The advantage of being in the driver’s seat
The last elections for Telangana were held in April May 2014 in the United State of Andhra Pradesh and accordingly the next elections in Telangana...
The last elections for Telangana were held in April- May 2014 in the United State of Andhra Pradesh and accordingly the next elections in Telangana were due around same time in 2019. But from August 2018 onwards there was speculation that KCR would go in for dissolution of the assembly and early elections. There were hectic discussions with the Centre and the Election Commission before he finally went for the dissolution of the assembly.
Before the dissolution of the assembly, a massive rally was held by TRS party on September 2 which was touted to be a mother of all rallies but it did not impress as the turnout was not as expected and enthusiasm from the crowds was missing . This made some critics feel KCR may not go for early elections . But on September 6, he recommended for dissolution of the assembly and calling for early elections. Number 6 is supposed to be lucky for him and on the same day announced a list for 105 constituencies out of a total of 119 the sum of which also works out to 6.
Early indications looked favourable to the ruling party who had the advantage of deciding candidates well in advance and were better organised to face the elections. Number of schemes that were implemented in the last four and half years also are supposed to work in favour of the ruling party.
But by October the negative angle took over and there was uncertainty about the outcome of the elections. The opposition onslaught of family rule and sarcastic comments that a car is only for 4 started making rounds. The negative image of most of the MLA candidates nominated second time also started working against the prospects of the ruling party. The iniquitous nature of the Rythu Bandhu scheme where a person who kept his hundred acres fallow walked away with a subsidy of 8 lakhs became a eyesore to the small farmer who got a paltry amount of Rs.16000 for his 2 acres.
People started asking about promised double bedroom houses and piped water at their doorstep as promised. It looked as if the elections were heading for a hung result with BJP becoming an important gainer of the anti- establishment vote. Election schedule announced by the EC in October also was not favourable as the election was scheduled in December instead of November. Certain intemperate remarks made by KCR against Mr Naidu looked as if were consolidating Seemandhra voters residing in Telangana against the TRS.
This scenario underwent a complete change by November with the formation of Mahakutami. An alliance of opportunistic nature and got stuck in terms of sharing of seats finally resolved those issues and by the time the election notification was issued Mahakutami was ready to face the elections as united force.
The formation of the Mahakutami led to a new alignment of forces. The minor partner in the Mahakutami Mr Naidu took the lead in the election campaign. This resulted in kindling and hardening of the Telangana sentiment which was till then dormant. Mr Naidu is perceived to represent the interest of the certain sections of the Seemandhra capitalist class. He failed to transfer enbloc votes of Seemandhras in Telangana since by now the balkanisation that is happening in Seemandhra on caste and regional lines also got reflected among the Seemandhra population living within Telangana. But on the other hand with his projection as lead campaigner Telangana sentiment worked in favour of TRS.
Another interesting development was once as part of the Mahakutami, Congress was seen as a possible winner. The BC vote got consolidated with TRS since Congress in Telangana is mostly associated with the dominant Reddy community. These developments were becoming perceptible as the election day was approaching but dominant vernacular press due to the interest it represents failed to see these changes happening at the ground level and started spreading the arithmetic of possible transfer of votes among the partners of Mahakutami giving them a comfortable majority.
It is around this time very near to the elections my driver and the person who works in my house hailing from different areas indicated that they are going back to their village to vote for TRS in spite of the fact that the local candidate is a undesirable person. This gave an indication of the thinking on the part of the electorate . When I tweeted this fact and suggested this may indicate the mood of the voters as against what certain pre poll forecasts were suggesting the tweet went viral touching about a lakh and a half within a day further indicating the mood of the electorate.
This is not to undermine some of the positive effects of the schemes that were taken by the government. Most of the schemes were implemented in a universal fashion within certain eligibility criteria and Janmabhoomi committees dominated by a particular political party as in Andhra Pradesh for selection of beneficiaries were not there in Telangana thus getting the party a better political mileage of the schemes implemented. Finally when the going is good it's always good to be in the driver's seat. KCR was in the driver's seat . Importance of this fact cannot also be underestimated.