Hyderabad: The massive electoral victory masterminded by TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao easily became the headline political story of the year. Behind the remarkable achievement lay an elaborate groundwork that Mr Chandrasekhar Rao laid almost throughout the year, indeed constantly all through his first term.
If Mr Rao’s call for early elections surprised everyone else, it was a measure of how well the TRS leadership kept the decision to itself. By then, he had determined that enough credit points had been gained with the people for him to encash it.
If Mr Rao set the tone in the early days by calling Congress president Rahul Gandhi a “buffoon”, he quickly changed the line to attack his AP number N. Chandrababu Naidu who joined the campaign late. The main Opposition, which united late, could never get its act together.
But then, Mr Rao had become the central figure in the campaign. Few had anything negative to say about him. The Opposition did not have one positive aspect on the street. It was almost like child’s play.
Just this year, Mr Rao gave effect to the Rythu Bandhu scheme that put money in the pocket of every owner of agricultural land. Rythu Bima, the farmer’s insurance, helped families affected by the loss of a breadwinner. The land records purification, with minor hiccups, appears to have cleared up the clutter and given farmers a sense of security.
If chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy rode to victory on 108 ambulances, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao directly reached every family with Kanti Velugu. The impact of this scheme is only becoming known towards the end of the year with Mr Rao extending its scope.
These came on top of the slew of programmes — 450, as the party claims — that reached almost every community and every family below the poverty line in the state.
His earlier family-intervention schemes like Shadi Mubarak, Kalyana Lakshmi touched individual voters as did his caste-based schemes like distributing sheep and buffaloes. It’s tackling of the power shortage and the law and order in the state helped establish Rao’s credentials as an administrator.
And in the early election lay another plan. He is now free to explore his dream of a Federal Front without having the burden of a state election.
Mr Rao has been accused of being arrogant, even dictatorial. It appears that the people did not mind it too much, even forgave him for his flashes of temper seen at public meetings when he sushed someone asking an inconvenient question or shouting a slogan.
Astute politician that he is, he had weakened Opposition ranks by drawing their MLAs. When it came to ticket distribution he deployed Mr K.T. Rama Rao for the 24 seats in Hyderabad, almost a fifth of the state, and rushed Mr T. Harish Rao to 26 other hotspots, seats where top Opposition leaders were contesting from or those where the TRS needing shoring up.
Along the way, he knocked down several records and jinxes. He is the only legislator in the Assembly with eight victories. He finally broke the jinx that the party that goes in for early elections never wins.
His planning also ensured that he achieved what he set out to do. A couple of years before the polls he said he would nominate nearly all MLAs. Tick. He said the TRS would score a 100. Well, almost but watch this space. He said the BJP would be vanquished. Tick.
As he sets out on his Federal Front mission, Mr Rao will be tailed by allegations that he is in league with the BJP and it would come out in full play now that the state polls are out of the way.
He has reached out to regional leaders, but has been pitted against Mr Naidu. It is said that Mr Naidu has a connect with national leaders since the days of the United Front. But, Mr Rao managed to secure letters of support for Telangana statehood from the same leaders and is a familiar face to them.
He has also flirted with national politics before. TRS was part of the UPA-1 and Mr Rao became Union labour minister. He was part of the 2009 coalition with the TD in undivided AP, but refused an arrangement with the party this time....