Hyderabad: After taking oath as a minister in his father’s Cabinet for a second time, the major task ahead for K.T. Rama Rao is to secure a big win for his party in the ensuing Municipal elections.
Earlier, after taking over as the working president of the TRS, he was given the onerous challenge of managing the party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, where TRS suffered a massive setback, losing eight of the 17 seats it contested.
In contrast to a diffident TRS, the principal opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP are in an aggressive mood, winning three and four Lok Sabha seats respectively. They are now trying to consolidate their strength further by winning the local urban elections. After the Lok Sabha elections, several senior political leaders in the state have joined the BJP, adding to their strength and challenging firepower.
In the Lok Sabha elections, the TRS had anticipated that the aura of invincibility that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had acquired after bringing back his party to power in the preponed Assembly elections, would help them secure 16 seats out of 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The party slogan, “saaru, caru, padaharu and sarkaru’ (boss, car, 16, government) boomeranged badly on junior Mr Rao, who had predicted that the BJP and the Congress together would not win over 250 seats, and Mr Modi would end up with less than 150 seats. The defeat of K. Kavitha, daughter of Chief Minister Rao, and incumbent MP from Nizamabad, was a big shock for the entire party, and the top family.
For the first time in its party history, dissident voices are mushrooming, openly, with even a demure, soft-spoken leader like health minister Etla Rajender raising a banner of revolt, saying, “I have earned every position I have won… nothing was given to me in alms. This is my party. I did not join the movement in mid-course with an eye on power or position.”
KTR faces big test of civic body elections
Sensing an opportunity to force the ruling party onto the back-foot, both the Congress and the BJP have intensified their attacks on the TRS government.
In this context, it would be an excruciating challenge for the newly re-inducted MA&UD and IT minister K.T. Rama Rao Rao, to score big wins in a majority of urban municipalities, of the contests which would be held for 13 municipal corporations and 124 municipalities in Telangana.
To make matters worse, the state government is in no position to implement most of its poll promises due to financial crisis.
The silver lining for Mr Rao is the political truism that Lok Sabha elections are different from local body polls. While national issues dominate in the Lok Sabha elections, in local body elections, hyper-local issues will play a major role. Conventionally, the ruling party in the state has an edge in local body polls, especially since the TRS has over four years of rule still to go.
Despite its massive setback in national elections, the TRS made a comeback in the panchayat raj elections.
The ensuing municipal elections would be a test for Mr Rama Rao, both a Cabinet minister and the TRS working president. Another factor of worry would be that more than the Congress, which is depleted of resources and motivation, it is the BJP which is eager to challenge the ruling TRS, a party that can pull of spectacular wins.