K Chandrashekar Rao,
K Chandrashekar Rao,

As the jubilant leaders of ruling TRS assemble for their mega meet in Hyderabad, an aura of invincibility is built around the party supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.  It 's true that KCR enjoys an edge over his rivals for a host of reasons. 

The iconic image of KCR has no match in the opposition. The Telangana sentiment certainly still holds the sway in the new state. The dreams of Telangana remain afresh in the minds of the people and thus they perhaps would not hesitate to wait for some more time for things to be delivered and expectations fulfilled. 

Meanwhile, the opposition camp remains divided as the elections in the state turn into a sort of referendum on KCR. The Chief Minister with his native idiom and dialect has the mesmerising power. The divided opposition still finds it hard to counter him in native semantics. 

The opposition camp is unlikely to consolidate against KCR and a multi-corner contest is inevitable giving an advantage to KCR. There is a possibility of Congress-led Mahagathbandhan taking shape by the time of elections that can comprise TDP, CPI and the newly found Telangana Jana Samithi led by Prof Kodandaram. But, still the BJP and the CPI-M will remain independent. If such a Congress-led alliance does not emerge, the contest will be much more multi-cornered. 

However, if the Congress manages to win Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, a national political mood favouring Congress is a likely possibility and prospects for Congress-led opposition coalition emerging in the state shall brighten. Such a political climate may pose a challenge to KCR as he faces direct challenge from Congress. 

Realising the pitfalls of any association with BJP especially at a time when Modi graph is falling, KCR cleverly floated the idea of a federal front. This shall certainly benefit KCR in the state elections. 
The opposition mainly focuses its attack on the family rule of KCR. But, Congress with Rahul Gandhi at the helm of affairs making such a tirade against KCR has no credibility. 

Besides, though the family members of KCR are holding high positions, it is also a fact that all these were leaders emerged out of the movement for a separate state of Telangana.  Unlike in many states the family members are not a liability to KCR. They are source of strength. Both KTR and Harish Rao proved to be competent ministers. Thus, KCR does not suffer from any 'son stroke.' 

As the resolve to defeat Modi intensifies, the Congress has the capacity to pull the minority vote to its fold. But, in Telangana, KCR is able to lure a large segment of minority votes, especially the Muslim vote. This is primarily because of two reasons. First, the BJP is a not a force to reckon with. In the absence of a BJP threat, the Muslim vote is unlikely to galvanise into an en bloc vote for Congress which remains the principal contender for power against BJP at the national level. 

Besides with its undeclared political and electoral alliance with MIM, the TRS is able to hold Muslim vote in its favour. The proposal to provide 12 per cent Muslim quota though did not materialise has given KCR a positive image among these sections of society. The minority welfare programmes have also contributed to this trend.  The uninterrupted power supply coupled with Rs 4,000 per acre capital support to farmers will help to attract the peasant vote. However, the failure to provide remunerative prices to farmers is a factor that can go against TRS. 

The cash-rich state of Telangana helped the KCR regime to initiate a slew of welfare measures. The pensions, residential schools etc. are turning out to be an advantage for KCR.  In fact, averting power crisis, laying to rest alarmist predictions, has a favourable impact on all sections of society. 

Telangana has been craving for irrigation. Apart from jobs and funds, discrimination in allocation of waters has been the main demand during the separate state movement. The initiatives in irrigation sector have certainly created a lot of hopes in the Telangana electorate.

The large presence of Seemandhra voters in Telangana, especially in Hyderabad, was an impediment for TRS. But, KCR through his skilful political management and absence of bifurcation eve divide has helped TRS lure Seemandhra voters. TDP getting marginalised and BJP incurring the wrath of Seemandhra people have further helped TRS and KCR to mobilise Seemandhra vote that can make a difference in many seats in state capital. 

Besides, these several positive factors, KCR still has challenges. The movement for separate state has roused the expectations of people. The failure of TRS government to adequately address the jobs questions is certainly a challenge. No industry that can offer thousands of jobs has come up in the new state. The unrest among educated youth over government jobs is an unfavourable factor for TRS. 

The poor implementation of land for dalits scheme and the manner in which the government addressed the demand for SC categorisation has certainly angered these sections. The Adivasi agitation and the subsequent schisms between them and the Lambadas is yet another negative point for TRS. Tribals account for more than nine per cent of state population.

Setting up of a significant number of residential schools cannot be called implementation of KG-to-PG scheme. This ambitious scheme still remains a shapeless idea. The reorganisation of districts has certainly met the aspirations of people. But, creation of too many districts with too little infrastructure is being questioned by the people. 

The 2BHK housing scheme has helped KCR win 2014 elections to a great extent. But, the implementation of this scheme is far from expectations and the promise is unlikely to be met by the time of elections. 
While KCR reasserts at the party plenary that most of the sitting MLAs will be fielded again, many of ruling party legislators face anti-incumbency even as the chief Minister KCR enjoys pro-incumbency. 

The TRS engineered defections from opposition parties. This has already created conflict between the original TRS leaders and defected leaders. In the absence of delimitation of constituencies, KCR would certainly find it difficult to accommodate aspiring leaders. 

Stifling dissent does not go down well with the people. Allowing people to protest helps in releasing the disgruntlement. But, disallowing such protests would harm the ruling party. 

There is a sporadic discontent among certain sections of people. But, this sporadic discontent is yet to galvanise into any significant anti-incumbency.  KCR certainly still enjoys an edge even after four years of rule. But, there is no room for complacency as the politics have tendency to spring last minute surprises.