By Mohammed Shafeeq
HYDERABAD: Buoyed by its landslide victory in the recent Telangana Assembly elections and with opposition parties looking demoralised, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) appears to have clear edge as it aims to make a clean sweep in the next month’s elections to 17 Lok Sabha seats in India’s youngest state.
The ruling party is working with ‘Mission 16’ while its friendly party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) sitting pretty to continue its stranglehold on Hyderabad.
Reeling under desertions by its MLAs, the Congress is struggling to put up a strong fight against TRS while the BJP’s prospects too look remote.
The TRS is appealing to the people to give all seats so that it, along with other regional parties, can play a key role in forming anon-BJP, non-Congress government at the Centre. Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who is eying an important role in the national politics, is leading the party campaign along with his son and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao.
“We got 47 per cent votes in the recent Assembly elections and won 75 per cent of the seats. We have initiated process to implement the promises we made. People are disillusioned with Congress and BJP. I believe Telangana will rock solidly stand with KCRji,” Rama Rao told IANS.
In the Assembly elections held in December, the TRS had sought a mandate on the basis of its performance, especially the welfare schemes implemented during the last four-and-half years.
Despite the Congress cobbling up a four-party front, including the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the TRS got the massive mandate, winning 88 seats in 119-member Assembly. The ruling party’s tally swelled to 100 with nine Congress MLAs joining its ranks this month. One MLA from TDP also crossed over to TRS while two independents had already switched loyalties.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the TRS had bagged 11 seats while the Congress won two and the TDP, the YSR Congress, the BJP and the MIM got one each. Three MPs each of the TDP, the YSR Congress and the Congress later defected to TRS. On the eve of Assembly elections, TRS also lost one MP, with Konda Vishweshwar Reddy joining the Congress. He is again contesting from Chevella, this time on the Congress ticket.
The TRS, which dropped four outgoing MPs, is especially focusing on four constituencies, including Secunderabad and Khammam which it has never won. In the 2014 Assembly polls, the TDP-BJP combine had bagged 14 of the 24 Assembly seats and Secunderabad and Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituencies. This was mainly because ‘settlers’, as the people from Andhra Pradesh living here are referred to, threw their weight behind the alliance. The TDP also did well in Khammam district, another place where the TRS could not establish itself.
Since then, the TRS has made major inroads in Greater Hyderabad, the capturing Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) with a landslide majority in 2016. In the recent Assembly elections, it won 14 out of 24 seats while MIM retained seven seats.
In a political masterstroke, KCR roped in TDP leader and former MP from Khammam, Nama Nageswara Rao and within hours declared him the TRS candidate from Khammam.
Smarting under desertions of its leaders, the TDP opted out of the race for Lok Sabha elections, helping TRS to achieve its goal of finishing off TDP, which it considers an Andhra party.
Losing nine MLAs to the ruling camp after crushing defeat in Assembly elections and with the lack of any charismatic leader, the Congress is in total disarray. It had to fall back on the leaders who were defeated in Assembly elections to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress hopes to give a good fight to TRS in constituencies like Khammam, Nalgonda, Bhuvangiri, Malkajgiri and Chevella.
Senior Congress leader and former union minister Renuka Chowdary carries the party’s hopes in Khammam, while state unit president Uttam Kumar Reddy faces a tough battle in Nalgonda.
The CPI and CPI-M, which fought Assembly elections as a part of different alliances, have joined hands to field candidates in their former strongholds of Nalgonda and Khammam.
A triangular fight is expected in constituencies like Secunderabad, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar and Karimnagar, where the BJP is considered to have sizeable presence.
In Nizamabad, KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha, who is seeking re-election for a second consecutive term, is locked in a keen battle against Madhu Yashki Goud of the Congress and D. Aravind of the BJP. About 200 farmers have also entered the fray in this constituency to highlight their hardships.
The BJP replaced its lone outgoing MP and senior leader Bandaru Dattatreya with G. Kishan Reddy in Secunderabad, a seat which was held by either Congress or BJP in the past. While Congress has fielded its former MP Anjan Kumar Yadav, state minister T. Srinivas Yadav’s son Sai Kiran Yadav is the TRS candidate.