Telangana State poll verdict: Leaders on pins and needles
The battle for Telangana is over. All are waiting for the day of judgement on December 11. Neither the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) nor the Congress-led People’s Front is sure of victory, but they are riding a high horse claiming that they would get 100 and 80 seats respectively.
The veneer of self-confidence now and then slips, exposing their anxiety over the outcome. The leaders are turning like fleas on a frying pan.
This time, the election, unlike in the past, turned out to be a no-holds-barred contest.
As nothing mattered except winning, neither side bothered the means it employed. The elections overnight became a prohibitively expensive affair. Money in hundreds of crores of rupees flowed like a flood tide, mocking the feeble attempts of the election authorities to control it. It is said that in some constituencies, the candidates spent up to Rs 40 crore and yet they are really not very confident of winning their seats.
A few candidates sold away their properties to invest in the elections as they know returns would be very lucrative. In villages, liquor reportedly flowed like a deluge, notwithstanding Excise Department’s efforts to curb it.
Innovative methods had been used in transporting money from one location from another. Decoy vehicles of just a few lakhs in a car were used for the authorities to intercept them and while they are busy checking the vehicles, other vehicles with loads of money found their way to the destination.
After all these Herculean efforts, there was this X-factor which neither the TRS nor the Congress-led front could decipher – huge turnout of the voters in the last one to two hours. Normally, if the polling percentage is high, it is interpreted as one that is beneficial to the Opposition. The reason given is that the people turn up in large numbers, intent on defeating the party in power out of spite.
At the end of the day on Friday, the polling percentage was 73.2 which was 4.7 percent more than in 2014. In fact, the percentage should have been less since in 2014, as, then there was strong Telangana wave sweeping across the newly formed State.
But this time polling was more even though the sentiment’s sharp edge has blunted with the passage of four-and-half years. Madhira in Khammmam district came in top position with 91.65 percent.
An analysis of the statistics shows that in respect of 103 constituencies, polling percentage has gone up. Interestingly, women outnumbered men in exercising their votes. In Devarakdra, 99.74 percent of women voters cast their votes while the polling percentage was more than 85 in 39 constituencies.
What is worrying the contestants is polling percentage in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medchal districts where it was 48.8, 61.2 and 55.8 respectively, making it difficult for them to know if it is in their favour or not. In Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy, it is said many have gone out on the weekend as they had three holidays in a row, with polling day falling on Friday.
In fact, the People’s Front had high hopes on urban segments and, with people not taking part enthusiastically in voting, the contestants are keeping their fingers crossed as to what would happen to their prospects.
The spurt in polling percentage, for sure, is indicative of a strong factor that the psephologists and analysts could not put their finger on. Telugu voters had never delivered a hung verdict and this time too it is perceived that the result would be decisive.
As far as the prospects of the Front are concerned, it is being debated whether Chandrababu Naidu factor has helped the Congress or led to the erosion of its base elsewhere in Telangana. Naidu campaigned in segments where Seema Andhraites are more.
With Naidu dominating the campaign, an impression appears to have gained ground all over Telangana State that he was back with a bang, which may have ruffled their feathers, as they had been brought up on the notion that Chandrababu Naidu is Telangana traitor. During the Telangana movement days, more than the Congress, the TRS had projected him as one who came from Andhra to plunder Telangana.
Hardcore voters do not need any goading by either K Chandrashekar Rao or K T Rama Rao to vote for the TRS, but those Telangana voters who may have remained uninterested in exercising their voting right because they are unhappy with the TRS rule, suddenly decided to vote for the TRS to keep Naidu at bay. Those Telangana people who had not voted for decades, took time to go to the polling booth and cast their votes.
It is quite possible that they may have thought that even though a Congress leader might become the Chief Minister if the Front wins the election, he would remain a puppet in Naidu’s hands as the latter had overshadowed all other Telangana Congress leaders.
Only after Naidu’s entry into Telangana, the Congress’ campaign gained impetus and he remained the face of the Front all through. Unmindful of the damage being done elsewhere, Naidu overplayed his game, which appeared to have triggered a backlash from hardcore Telangana people.
This apart, K Chandrashekar Rao seems to have succeeded in provoking Naidu into attacking him which may have hurt the average Telangana voter who may not like Naidu, who is perceived to be an outsider, enter Telangana and unleash invective against Chandrashekar Rao.
Igniting Telangana passion, Chandrashekar Rao hit out Naidu, explaining to the people the danger that was lurking just across the border and narrated what all Naidu had done to stymie the progress of Telangana State.
It seems Naidu took the bait and hit back, and in the process, evoked a backlash from the people. Though Chandrashekar Rao was Naidu’s disciple once, in his electoral strategy, Chandrashekar Rao seems to have outsmarted Naidu.
Realising the mistake in the last few days of campaigning, the Front leaders became sober and ensured that the advertisements they had released to newspapers had no Naidu’s photo in them.
The Front was initially very hopeful that it would win a good number of Seema Andhra seats but with low percentage recorded there, they are not very sure now. But they have not lost all hope. They argue that Seema Andhra voters this time would support the Front and discount the theory that Seem-Andhras who are against Naidu would vote for the TRS.
They believe that they had abstained from voting since there was neither YSRCP nor Jana Sena in the picture. But those who argue against it, say that due to their pathological hatred against the TDP, the YSRCP supporters would have gone all out and voted for the TRS.
They have also been fed with the theory that if they ensure the TRS win the elections, Chandrashekar Rao would help their leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in the Assembly elections in AP in 2019.
The Congress-led Front needs to be commended because, initially it was an underdog, but in a very short span of time it rose quickly and locked horns with the TRS like as an equal. The Front has made the TRS earn every vote that has gone its way. The indications are that the result might go down to the wire.