February 23, 2014

TELANGANA & LOK SABHA 2014


WHO GAINS AND WHO LOSES OUT IN TELANGANA?

K Chandrashekar Rao on fast-unto-death for Telangana in December 2009
It does not matter if you like it or not. The reality is that after both houses passed the Andhra Pradesh Re-organization Bill, Telangana is all set to become the 29th state of the Indian Union. A struggle that began about seven decades ago and which was further strengthened by years of neglect has finally succeeded. In spite of protests in Seemandhra and the ruckus inside the Parliament, the government and the Opposition came together in a move dubbed by detractors as 'match-fixing' to allow the contentious bill to pass through. Though Hyderabad is to be the joint capital for the next ten years, the metropolis which is considered to be the pride of the Telugu people and is the bone of contention between the two sides will cease to exist within the territorial extent of Andhra. With the elections both at the Center and in the states, namely Andhra and Telangana due in the next two months, this move will have a direct impact on how the masses vote. Here is a look at the various political parties and how their fortunes will be affected with the division of southern India's largest state. Also with this post, I am starting a new series on the blog where I will analyze each state with respect to the Lok Sabha polls of 2014.

ISSUES

(1) Statehood for Telangana: No prizes for guessing this. The creation of Telangana is of course going to be the sole issue this election season in this part of the country, that is if there are no drastic developments in the run up to the polls. The people of this region have demanded a separate state for decades, citing step-motherly treatment meted out by the rest of Andhra. While Hyderabad, located deep in the heart of this area is one of the most developed cities in the country, the rest of the yet to be born state has lagged far behind. The statehood for Telangana has been a crucial poll subject for long, except for the time when Y S Rajshekar Reddy was the Chief Minister. Considering that hundreds of people have lost their lives over this rather emotional topic, it is going to dominate the political situation here for months, if not years. The challenge for the next government, both in New Delhi and in Hyderabad will be to implement development schemes so as to nurture the state in its early days. 

(2) The TRS-Congress pact: Another key issue which could decide the outcome will be the proposed TRS-Congress merger/pre-poll alliance. Rao's outfit has been at the forefront of the agitation for the past decade whereas the Congress' role in passing of the bill has been appreciated by the people on the ground. As such, if they join hands, they are expected to sweep an overwhelming majority of the seventeen seats from here. The Congress wants Rao's outfit to merge with it, whereas the latter does not want to commit, preferring to keep his options open.


CONTENDERS

(1) Telangana Rashtriya Samiti: The TRS formed by K Chandrashekar Rao in 2004 after he parted ways with Chandrababu Naidu to fight for Telangana statehood is expected to gain heavily from this development. Though it fared badly in the 2009 General elections, KCR's 'fast-unto-death' later that year brought the attention of the entire nation to this issue. The UPA II government buckled under pressure and announced the initiation of the process to bifurcate Andhra, something that it would repent later. There is no doubt that today, KCR is the biggest political leader in the new state. The big question however, is whether he should merge his outfit into the Congress or become a partner in the UPA. It is believed that there was an understanding between the INC and TRS that the latter would merge into the former as and when Telangana is formed. While the Congress has kept its promise, Rao is hesitant to keep his word on the merger. Though it is sure that such an alliance will for sure sweep the newly carved state, KCR's knows that in all likelihood, the UPA will not win a third state term. Moreover, if the NDA crosses the 200 mark and needs allies to stake a claim to form the next government, the TRS could join it (like it did in 2009) and bargain heavily for a special economic package for the state of Telangana. Remember, the BJP's support was crucial in passing the Bill in both Houses of the Parliament.

(2) Congress: In several parts of the soon to be created state, Sonia Gandhi is being referred to as the 'Mother of Telangana' as she has ensured that the UPA kept the promise it had made in 2004, even if the announcement came months prior to the General elections. The grand old party has indeed taken a huge gamble. By giving Telangana it has ruled itself out of the race in 25 seats in Andhra, the state that sent the maximum number of Congress MPs in the last two Lok Sabhas. To be frank, the party did not have a choice. Jaganmohan Reddy has virtually wiped it out of the Rayalseema and Seemanadhra regions whereas the TDP too is expected to improve its performance. The challenge before the Congress is to ensure that the TRS mergers into it. Sadly for it, KCR is a shrewd politician. If he decides to retain his outfit's independence, there is a threat that he may join hands with the BJP led NDA in the future. That would be a disaster and will allow the saffron outfit to make a strong mark in Telangana besides helping it clinch the advantage in the race to 272 in the post poll scenario. Considering the high stakes, one can expect the Congress to lobby hard in the next few days to make sure that Rao fights under its colors.

(3) All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen: In my opinion after the TRS and the Congress, the third party which will be affected by the creation of the new state is the AIMIM. The party has been representing the Hyderabad seat in the Lok Sabha since 1984 largely due to its loyal Muslim vote bank. However, post the recent developments, the two time MP and party president Asaduddin Owaisi may be feeling a bit jittery. In case the Telangana sentiments are high, the voters may rise above communal lines and may end up overlooking the AIMIM. However, Modi's nomination for the post of the Prime Minister by the NDA will be one issue which Owaisi may raise to whip up religious sentiments and consolidate the minority votes.

(4) BJP: The saffron party's situation in southern India continues to be pathetic, more so after its rout in Karnataka assembly polls. However, in a bid to give itself a better chance at least in Telangana, the party backed the bill introduced by the Congress in the Parliament, hoping to create some momentum in its favor. Like Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj too has won the good will of the people from this part of the country. Giving her a ticket from her will be a bold move and may well pay off. At least, she should figure prominently in the BJP's election campaign here. On the issue of the merger of the TRS into the Congress, the party will be keeping its fingers crossed. Also, in case the deal fails, the party will look at Rao as a potential ally in the future and may lure him with a special economic package for the new state.

The Telugu Desum Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress are expected to draw a blank here in case they contest as they batted for the 'United Andhra' movement. The Communist and other constituents of the Third Front too do not have any substantial presence here which means they too will not open their accounts.

PAST RESULTS

Here is a look at how the 17 seats that will form a part of Telangana have voted in the last five Lok Sabha polls. Please note that during these elections, the region was still a part of Andhra Pradesh. Also, over the years, the delimitation exercise has made it difficult to get accurate results in all constituencies. In 1996, the Congress held a slight upper hand in the region whereas in the next election it was the TDP that did well. The allies in the NDA i.e. Telugu Desum and the BJP swept the region in spite of the fact that they did not have a pre-poll arrangement. YSR's campaigning and the alliance with the TRS helped the UPA do well across Andhra in 2004 and Telangana was no exception. The superlative performance in the state catapulted the Congress beyond 150 and helped them to a surprise victory at the Center. In 2009, in spite of the break-up with KCR, the Congress led by Rajashekar Reddy routed all Opposition in the state. A hallmark of this victory was that KCR's outfit was reduced to a paltry number of two even as the Congress went past 200, again with Andhra contributing the maximum number of MPs to UPA II.

No.
Constituency
2009
2004
1999
1998
1996
01
Adilabad
TDP
TRS
TDP
TDP
TDP
02
Peddapalli
INC
INC
TDP
TDP
INC
03
Karimnagar
INC
TRS
BJP
BJP
INC
04
Nizamabad
INC
INC
TDP
TDP
INC
05
Zahirabad
INC
-
-
-
-
06
Medak
TRS
TRS
BJP
INC
INC
07
Malkajgiri
INC
-
-
-
-
08
Secunderabad
INC
INC
BJP
BJP
INC
09
Hyderabad
AIMIM
AIMIM
AIMIM
AIMIM
AIMIM
10
Chevella
INC
-
-
-
-
11
Mahabubnagar
TRS
INC
BJP
JD
INC
12
Nagarkurnool
INC
TDP
TDP
INC
TDP
13
Nalgonda
INC
CPI
TDP
CPI
CPI
14
Bhongir
INC
-
-
-
-
15
Warangal
INC
TRS
TDP
TDP
TDP
16
Mahabubabad
INC
-
-
-
-
17
Khamman
TDP
INC
INC
INC
CPM


(1) Information on the results of the five constituencies - Zahirabad, Malkajgiri, Chevella, Bhongir and Mahabubabad are not availabale on the Internet.

(2) CPI: Communist Party of India
CPM: Communist Party of India (Marxist)
JD: Janata Dal


MY PREDICTIONS

I am sticking my neck out to make some predictions ahead of the General Elections. Of course, the point to note here is that I have not taken the INC-TRS merger or pre-poll alliance into account since it has not been announced as yet. As mentioned earlier, Chandrashekar Rao and the TRS may well take about half of the seats from the new state whereas the Congress too may do well. I expect the BJP to end its drought here and the AIMIM to retain its stronghold of Hyderabad. Note, I have just relied on my understanding and my gut feeling to come to these numbers.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)
6-10
2
Congress (INC)
4-8
3
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
0-2
4
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)
0-1
5
Others (YSR Congress/TDP/CPI/CPM)
0-1


WATCH OUT

(1) Rise of the Rao Dynasty: It will be interesting to see whether Chandrashekar Rao contests a Lok Sabha seat or prefers to fight the elections to the state assembly, hoping to become the first CM of the state for which he went without food for over 10 days. In that case, it is pretty likely that his son K T Rama Rao, the MLA from Sircilla may lead the party in the Parliament. His daughter, K Kavita who had courted arrest several times during the T agitations is likely to jump into the electoral fray this year. His nephew Harish is the MLA from Siddipet. Though there are various speculations over the future of the TRS, what is clear is that the Raos are set to become the first family of Telangana. 

(2) The future of the TRS: Will he or won't he merge into the Congress? This is the question that is dominating all political discussions in the region. It is believed that most of the leaders in the TRS are against merging the party into the Congress. Even KCR would like to retain his party's identity, aware that he will be made to dance to the High Command's tune in case he joins the INC. Besides, staying independent leaves the option of allying with the NDA in the future open. Considering that his party does not have strong presence in most parts of the soon to be formed state, Rao knows that he may need the help of the grand old party to form a government in Hyderabad. Resisting the Congress in such a situation will be extremely difficult. On the other hand, merging into the Congress may lead to a vertical split int the outfit, with many leaders opting out.

(3) The future of the BJP in Telangana: Much like the Congress, the BJP took a gamble by supporting the T Bill in the Parliament. While the Congress was looking at and may even get some immediate gains in 2014, for the the saffron outfit, it is a long term investment. By lending its support to the creation of the new state, the party has given itself a strong platform which it can use to garner votes. Though the it may not win even a single seat here in this General Elections, do not be surprised if it does open its account in the new legislative assembly. Secondly, the BJP will be closely watching the developments regarding the merger of the TRS into the Congress. If the merger happens, many in the TRS may jump the boat and the only viable option for them will be the BJP. In case, the deal falls through, Modi may woo Rao with a multi-crore package for Telangana.

Other posts in this series:
(1) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)