Rama Krishna Sangem
Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is supremely confident of winning a third term as Chief Minister of Telangana in November/December elections this year. This is the situation as he is set to hold 23rd plenary of his party at Telangana Bhavan in Hyderabad on April 27, Thursday. Technically, this is the first plenary of BRS, though previous version – TRS – was formed the same day in 2001
KCR’s confidence can be gauged from his speech at Aurangabad two days ago, as well as the media interviews given by BRS working president and minister KT Rama Rao (KTR) in the last few days. The reasons are at multiple levels – One, KCR as CM has taken enough care to see that all the needy sections of society are benefited from his government in the last 4 years, or 9 years for that matter.
Since Telangana was formed in 2014, KCR has ensured certain basic problems plagued that the state – like power shortage, farmers suicides and drinking water scarcity – were solved on a priority basis. As a result, now there are no power cuts in Telangana (though power supply since improved at the national level). Businessmen still recall how they suffered before 2014 because of “power holidays” or long hours of scheduled and unscheduled power cuts.
Kaleshwaram Lift project has contributed a lot for improving groundwater table in the chronic water scarcity hit areas of north and central Telangana. There are questions about its cost of operation or capacity to create new ayacut, but its completion and regular running is an achievement to KCR. So is the case with Mission Bhagiratha, drinking water scheme. KCR attacked BJP led government in Maharashtra for its failure to supply drinking water to even big towns.
KCR hasn’t stopped his flagship schemes of first term Kalyana Lakshmi or Aasara pensions or Rythu Bandhu which attracted the poor and middle class families in villages. Moreover, addition of Dalit Bandhu, a one-time give away of Rs 10 lakh to Dalit families has come as a shot in the arm to the ruling party. Along with them, his plans to issue cultivation certificates to Tribals who practice Podu farming is another welfare measure.
Farmer, Dalit & Muslim base
Thanks to his welfare initiatives, CM KCR has formed a formidable base of farmers, Dalits and Muslim minorities for BRS. These three major social segments account for about 30-32 per cent of voters. If we add Tribals who benefit out of Podu certificates and other general people who avail one or the other welfare or development schemes, KCR’s vote share is likely to touch 40 per cent, at present estimates.
This is enough for him to win even in a one-on-one contest with a principal opposition party. But, present political scene in Telangana suggest a three-way split – as opposition camp is divided between Congress and BJP. As per recent quick surveys, both the parties are struggling between 18 and 26 per cent. This is a reason for KCR sitting pretty ahead of assembly elections 8 months away.
Of course, KCR has his own share of problems – major one being anti-incumbency against 20 to 30 sitting MLAs and some of them also ministers. Whether he will change them or makes them change their ways is to be seen. Naturally, any party which is in power for two terms will draw certain amount of anti-incumbency winds. Not only MLAs, but other functionaries like local leaders too are responsible for this liability.
BJP still lags behind
BJP which aspires to emerge as challenger to BRS is lagging behind at the ground level. The party’s national leadership is keen on winning Telangana this year, but the state leadership is ill-equipped to this task. BJP does’t have credible candidates in at least 70 assembly seats, out of the total 119. The party is depending on the charisma of PM Modi and campaigning strategies of Amit Shah.
BJP hoped to benefit out of MLC Kavitha’s alleged role in Delhi liquor scam, but abnormal delay of the investigating agencies in establishing her role has blunted the political edge of the case. Leakage and subsequent cancellation of TSPSC papers too came as an opportunity to BJP. But, party’s state president Bandi Sanjay’s alleged involvement in 10th class papers took away sing out of the party’s aggression.
Congress, a divided house
Congress has some vote base in every assembly constituency. PCC president Revanth Reddy is projecting himself as an alternative to KCR, but the party is a divided house. Of the around 20-30 senior leaders of Congress, there are at least three or four groups, on regional, caste lines. Each of them suspect the other being in touch with or covert of CM KCR. In present conditions, Congress had to struggle a lot to cross the mark of 25-30 MLAs.
An organizationally weak BJP and a divided Congress are the clear advantages to KCR. Thanks to CM KCR and his powerful CMO, the role of ministers resorting to corruption is minimum. This is a plus point to the ruling party. Of course, there are some other players in the political field, but their impact is yet to be felt at the macro level. There could be some political surprises in the coming months, but KCR is capable of handling them.