DC Edit | BRS throws first punch, sets ball rolling for polls
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
Founder of Bharat Rashtra Samithi and Telangana chief minister set the ball rolling for the state Assembly elections slated to be held toward the end of the year there, along with four other states — Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.
BRS boss K. Chandrashekar Rao, who is better known as KCR, reputed for his unusual strategies and gift of being able to stun rivals and partymen alike with his unpredictable moves, has announced a list of 114 candidates for 115 seats — with him contesting from two Assembly seats simultaneously for the first time in his career — and retaining most candidates.
All three aspects have created a big flutter in the political circles not only in Hyderabad and Telangana, but also in New Delhi and other places — his timing of releasing a near-complete list even before the Election Commission has announced the schedule of the election, his decision to contest from two seats and his retaining most candidates when there are reports of clearly irreversible anti-incumbency of high order against nearly a third, if not half, of his sitting MLAs.
Telangana is a relatively smaller state politically — with just 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats — with a party needing 60 seat to form government. The contest now firmly looks like a fierce bid by the ruling BRS party, which is aiming for an unprecedented (in south Indian state) political hat-trick. It has certainly not happened with any Telugu leader before that they have won three elections and become CM three consecutive times.
The election is now perceived by most as a near-direct fight between the BRS and the Congress Party, though the MIM and BJP have their respective small pockets of dominance, especially in the urbanscape of Hyderabad.
The BRS is aiming to win a third time, based predominantly off of the persona of KCR, who has little competition in the presidential mode of campaign as chief ministerial candidate, though the Congress Party is seeing its graph rise steadily ever since the BJP’s popularity plunged following two-odd years of being seen as the real rival of the ruling party.
The Congress is hoping to bank on failed promises and palpable anti-incumbency — CM KCR has made several promises he is yet to keep, from three acres of land for dalits to two-bedroom houses for every family and at least one job for every family to drinking water in every home — and has its hopes set on its own combination of social engineering and welfare schemes.
The promises of Rs 2 lakh loan waiver for farmers and increased pension for senior citizens to Rs 4,000 a month by the Congress has also created excitement.
The BRS, meanwhile, is counting on its own combination of development and welfare schemes, including special funds for dalits, OBCs and Muslims.
The election is likely to see distribution of huge amounts of money and other forms of electoral malpractices, but since all parties will indulge in it at different levels, there may be no reckoning. The BJP is hoping that its ability to create a template of fusion with the famed Modi magic, development and Hindutva would give it some leverage, and hopefully a hung House, in which it can then play kingmaker.
The MIM, which is seen as a friendly party by the BRS, wishes that the ruling party returns, but has a difficult job preventing the Muslim vote from reportedly shifting rapidly to the Congress from the pink party in order to help retain the status quo.