Will Telangana witness elections by end 2018?
During monsoon season, Telangana State is witnessing political heat as the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who is known for his quickness to send shock waves among political opponents and public, has made his first move towards advancing the elections to the state assembly though the tenure of the Government is till April 2019
During monsoon season, Telangana State is witnessing political heat as the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who is known for his quickness to send shock waves among political opponents and public, has made his first move towards advancing the elections to the state assembly though the tenure of the Government is till April 2019. KCR appears to be keen that Telangana should go to polls along with the four other states where elections are due in December. He is now contemplating to dissolve the Assembly soon after the Pragati Nivedana Sabha on September 2.
The game began with anti-BJP forces trying to check mate BJP-led NDA at Centre and Modi-Amit Shah duo trying to outwit the anti-BJP forces. BJP is trying to befriend new parties like TRS much to the chagrin of the state BJP. In fact, the snake and mongoose game seems to have begun now.
The state BJP is very much opposed to the proposal of advancing the assembly elections. The state unit submitted a report to the party high command alleging that KCR cannot be trusted and recalled how he promised to make a Dalit as first Chief Minister of the state and went back on his word and how he assured the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi that he would merge TRS if Telangana state was carved and how he ditched them. The state leaders also told the central leaders that advancing elections would only help the TRS and not BJP.
KCR has intensified efforts for advancing the elections. He has clearly prodded his ministers and party leaders to be ready for the early elections which may be held in December. He has decided to tour 100 constituencies in 50 days time. TRS leaders feel that there is every possibility of the Assembly being dissolved soon after the September 2 public meeting and there would be no Assembly session. It is anticipated that the Election Commission will issue notification for the Assembly elections to Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram in October. Hence KCR seems to be in a hurry to see that Telangana is also included in the list
But then a lot depends on what view the Centre would take. The question now is will Modi agree for advancing elections? According to Article 365, if a state government fails to exercise its executive powers in compliance with the directions given by the Union Government, the responsibility shifts to the Governor of the state to assess the situation and recommend the dissolution of state assembly to the Union cabinet.
This proclamation is made by the President only when the Governor is convinced that the state cannot function in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. However as far as Governor is concerned, there may not be any problem in recommending dissolution and if the TRS and BJP come to an understanding the union cabinet too would ratify the decision.
Normally, a dissolution occurs when there is a breakdown of the constitutional machinery and the President takes over the administration of the state. But that is not the case in Telangana. So what reason would the government take to recommend dissolution of the Assembly is the most intriguing question.
Everything is going on smoothly. TS is at number two position in ease of doing business. There has never been any law and order problem and the economy is buoyant. Then why think of dissolving the Assembly whose tenure ends in April 2019. Neither BJP nor Congress are in a position to turn the apple cart of the TRS. It is a foregone conclusion that TRS would be back in driver’s seat in next elections whenever held. Then why this sudden move is the million-dollar question. Some argue that this is an attempt to capitalise on the positive impression among public over his welfare and development schemes. But then when there is no threat to his government and popularity then why advance the polls?.
Political observers believe that this was part of the understanding reached between KCR and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting early this month. Following the developments that had taken place after the exit of TDP from NDA and the results of Karnataka elections and clear indications that BJP was facing uphill task, the saffron party has been making swift moves to ensure that they are back in power in 2019 under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
With the TRS moving closer to BJP, the Prime Minister had two meetings in less than two months with KCR and is likely to meet him again during his three-day stay in Delhi. While it is being speculated that KCR had agreed to Modi’s proposal that TRS would back BJP in the post-poll scenario but in return the Centre should allow him to advance the assembly elections. The TRS does not want to have any pre- poll alliance with BJP as it will make Muslim voters turn against TRS.
TRS may not have any formal alliance with BJP but the party can extend outside support to NDA. They believe that TRS will be in a position to play crucial role at the Centre and pressurise the NDA government to quickly act on the long pending demands of Telangana. That’s what AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also thought in 2014.
KCR also perhaps feels that if elections are advanced it will catch the opposition parties off guard and winning over 80 seats would not be a difficult task. KCR has however fixed 100 seats as the target for his rank and file. The Congress had drawn out a long action plan and wanted to bring Rahul Gandhi once every month till elections are over. But with the fast-changing situation, the PCC and AICC will have very little time to take on TRS as they would be bogged down with selection of candidates and fighting groupism in the party.
As far as TBJP is concerned, it may not have much of say and may not be able to stall the efforts of the Centre in having understanding with TRS. The national BJP would not mind going against the recommendations and sacrificing the state BJP in view of the larger gains it wants to have in the Lok Sabha elections to retain power.
While the opposition parties are yet to crystallise their ideas and work on manifestos, KCR is ready in all aspects. He would be announcing increase in the number of units eligible for free power from present 50 to 100 for SCs and STs, hike in wages of Imams and Muezzins from Rs 1500 to Rs 5000 and payment of salaries of Archakas to be done by the Endowments department. Similarly salaries of employees working in the Mini Gurukulams will also be increased.
These moves, KCR feels will help the party in getting the support of all sections of society. Political observers feel that since it could be a win win situation for BJP and TRS, Centre may agree for advancing the assembly elections.