Smaller Players Give Tough Time to Congress

Hyderabad: With the chances of the Congress clinching poll pacts with smaller parties in Telangana turning bleak, its leaders are worried over the split in anti-incumbency vote – a situation which could benefit Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao's BRS in the upcoming elections.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the potential partners of the Congress, released the first list of 20 candidates, shutting doors on Congress. Y.S. Sharmila's YSRTP's alliance with Congress is also unlikely as the Congress is in no mood to concede to her demand for a seat to contest in the state.

The success of talks with the two Left parties, which are still underway, largely depends on the Reds agreeing for one seat each, which, going by the mood in Left parties, is unlikely.

Sources told Deccan Chronicle that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) might be offered Paleru, a move that would also address the Congress' internal squabble between two of its aspirants -- Tummala Nageswara Rao and Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy. While Tummala is likely to be moved to Khammam, Reddy could be shifted to Kothagudem, sources added. The Communist Party of India, on the other hand, would be offered Munugode.

While Left parties have a sizeable voter base in a few districts, the BSP, rejuvenated under the leadership of former IPS official R.S. Praveen Kumar, could inflict damage along with Sharmila’s outfit, however low their vote strength, running into a few thousand, maybe.

“We made sincere efforts and reached out to Praveen but he flatly denied an alliance. It’s rather surprising that he invoked high command, though we all know that the show (in Telangana) is independently run by him,” a senior Congress leader said.

Sensing the danger of the Congress remaining the principal opposition, the BRS supremo targeted BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inviting criticism from the Congress that he was elevating the BJP to split the anti-incumbency vote. But his plans went awry following the BJP’s self-induced fall from its position as a party in waiting for power.

Sources in the BRS said the Chief Minister was actively considering asking friendly party All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen to not restrict itself to the city, but contest in as many seats as possible across the state, to dent the Congress, which succeeded in consolidating its position among minorities.

Although it’s not clear at this stage whether the Telugu Desam and the Jana Sena will jointly contest in Telangana, they both will certainly enter the fray, further splitting the anti-BRS and anti-BJP votes.

When contacted, both CPI state secretary K. Sambasiva Rao and CPM state secretary T. Veerabhadram threatened to walk away from talks if the Congress decided to allocate one seat each.

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