2014 polls: No ideological leanings

2014 polls: No ideological leanings
Highlights

2014 Polls: No Ideological Leanings, The recent election results from Telangana and Seemandhra indicate a different phenomenon devoid of any political ideology – left, right or centre.

2014 Polls: No Ideological LeaningsThe recent election results from Telangana and Seemandhra indicate a different phenomenon devoid of any political ideology – left, right or centre. The two regions have gone to elections with an agenda to form separate states from 2nd June and therefore carried the burden of sentiments, apprehensions and dreams. It is necessary to understand briefly the socio-economic and historical background of the new states to appreciate the outcome of the ballot box/EVM.

Andhra Pradesh was a unique state in the Indian union with different identities brought to co-exist under the rubric of a language. Telangana region was an independent state from 1948 to 1956 under a democratically elected government.The state had an experience of armed struggle lasting for several years involving thousands of martyrs, was ultimately alleged to be made part of Telugu state with many incongruities. When the so-called Gentlemen Agreement between leaders of Andhra and Telangana failed to meet the demands of the people, a separate movement for the division of Telangana 2014 Polls: No Ideological Leaningsstarted in 1969. From this ensued political engineering both in Andhra and Telangana, resulting in the replacement of the traditional ruling castes by the merging of feudal and middle castes as a temporary hug to occupy positions of power. It has further polarised the shudra castes with a clout allowing little space for another emerging group. This motivated them to form a political party on linguistic identity. The social engineering of the two dominant shudra castes through a process of unification of their caste groups created friction within political establishment. Each group tried to consolidate its position by dividing the followers of other castes mostly Dalit and OBCs. But, this did not result in any stability in the power structure of the ruling dispensation as the economic opportunities and resources were concentrated in Hyderabad region, while denying access to the benefits to each caste group of the other region. This unequal relationship both in sharing of power and resources led to confrontation and the spreading of Telangana movement.

The coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions with two distinct areas and two dominant castes in each region controlled resources and politics. The formula of 60:40 ratio in contracts for the ruling party or caste to take major share and less for others did not work well when the economic opportunities under globalisation increased. The feudal relations started disappearing and unification of castes and emergence of a neo-capitalist class began by the time Rajasekhara Reddy came to power. In the Coastal Andhra, another shudra caste with numerically strong, but with socially and culturally backward credentials, aspired to capture power through Chiranjeevi, the elder brother of Pawan Kalyan. The sudden death of Rajasekhara Reddy forced the Congress to formulate Delhi-based recipe by bringing Chiranjeevi into their fold. But, the social group did not follow him waiting for an opportunity to capture or yield more power.

2014 Polls: No Ideological Leanings

Hyderabad city is a distinct region being part of the Deccan traps; it had vast tracts of freehold lands that were brought under cultivation through a different system of Jagirdari settlement. The present greater Hyderabad region consisting of five districts or half of Telangana had unique land holdings. By the time TDP came to power, these lands that were not systematically surveyed were brought under the government, though by law parts of the holdings belong to the union government. The successive Andhra rulers realised the importance of the enormous free holdings and developed them as real estate with the support and investment of the state on infrastructure. Thus, the critics point out, these exceptional conditions have attracted investments and not necessarily the strategies of ruling class. Most of the grabbers, theTelangana activists claim, are Seemandhra people. It is alleged that every political leader and their relatives and even corrupt bureaucrats have held illegal holdings (benami) as real estate in and around Hyderabad. Therefore, Hyderabad city has become a bone of contention for Seemandhra leaders while the Telangana activists pin hopes on this important resource.

The situation in the North Andhra or Kalingandhra region bordering Odisha and Chhattisgarh is different. It has the largest tracts of Eastern Ghats with distinct adivasi and backward caste groups, languages and other historically significant identities like the Buddhist and Jain monasteries. The region was totally neglected from the time of British India and the trend continued after independence that led to the Srikakulam struggle. The hinterlands and the resources including the beautiful beaches and valleys slowly slipped into the control of the Coastal Andhra hegemony. It is alleged that the same groups that exploited Telangana are also regulating the resources of this area through political clout from outside.

Now it is easy to understand why the election results in the divided Andhra Pradesh are not uniform. The political drubbings of the ruling party and the victory of NDA in Seemandhra and TRS in Telangana need to be understood under the aforementioned diverse socio-economic conditions of each region.

It is noticed that TDP has followed a very strategic approach both in Seemandhra and in Telangana. Though both the Naidus of NDA in Seemandhra, according to their critics, used different semantics to attract the voters, the unity of purpose of their approach is known to everyone. The success of TRS in Telangana, TDP in Coastal Andhra and YSRCP in Rayalaseema and parts of Seemandhra clearly indicate the social division of the state on caste lines. TDP has wisely fused the support of Kapus by using Pawan Kalyan as a symbol in the districts where their presence is significant. It has nicely enveloped him with Modi. It has paid dividends. YSRCP seems to have depended too much on Dalit Christians who are significant throughout the state, but lost the base of other communities. The party seems to have failed to project an alternative manifesto and convince the common man that it would remain above factional politics to sustain development. The hate speech against KCR not only by the Congress but even Andhra leaders helped TRS to appeal to the sentiments of the Telangana people and captured their imagination that Chandrasekhar Rao is the real leader who would bring change in the new state.

Thus, in a nutshell the recent elections in Telangana and Seemandhra show that they have unfolded a hidden social phenomenon that would be emerging in the new states with new alliances of social groups, after the separation of the states where their numbers alter. In the whole process, sadly, neither the poor nor the Dalits including the left are taken by voters as serious contenders.

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