Telangana is in the midst of elections, with everyone vying to meet their objectives. The State will hold a single-phase election for 119 seats on November 30, with results expected on December 3rd, along with other poll-bound States out of 119 seats are 19 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 12 for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
After nine years of BRS (TRS) rule, the core deliverables of the Telangana statehood movement, namely “Water, Employment, and Funds,” remain unsatisfactory in terms of availability and access. Currently, Telangana’s main stream political parties such as the BRS, Congress, and AIMIM, are completely immersed in power politics, whereas the BJP adheres to its own ideology and principles. The State’s little-known parties, such as the BSP, Communists, and others, are testing the waters.
To simplify the complex nature of politics, we can recall the wise words of late Dattapant Thengdiji, two-time MP and founder of BMS, who stated that politics and politicians can be divided into four categories. (i) Pure and simple idealist (ii) Pure and simple power politics/politician (iii) Essentially an idealist but also a politician (iv) Essentially a politician but also an idealist.
KCR was seen a “Pure and Simple Power Politician,” but when he founded the TRS and made Telangana statehood his agenda, he fell into the category of “Essentially a politician but incidentally an idealist.” As a result, he was elected as Telangana’s first Chief Minister and served a second term that ended in 2023. He is now back to his core business.
BRS built larger reservoirs and implemented schemes such as Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya to fulfill the Telangana movement’s big promise of deliverables for water. The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project is one of KCR’s larger projects. However, these projects ended up being liabilities rather than assets for elections. Recently, the pillars of this megaproject were sunk and are being scrutinised by the central water body for fund irregularities and quality. The entire project machinery was submerged in floods in July 2022, leaving a poor design and execution of this crores budget project.
“In this 10 years, Telangana govt has betrayed everyone including Madiga community. During agitation, you were promised that a Dalit person would be made the CM of Telangana but after the state’s formation, KCR sat in the chair of CM by crushing the dreams of Dalit people ”
— Narendra Modi, Prime Minister said while addressing, a rally in Secunderabad
The Employment Scene
In terms of employment, as a power politician, he announced job openings in 2022 but failed to conduct them transparently. The paper leakage and re-conducting of the exams has caused a delay, and it could not be completed as expected by TRS, eroding public trust in the BRS and demonstrating that the TRS is unable to deliver on its commitments.
Furthermore, the TRS’s failure to meet the demand for filling over 1 lakh vacant government jobs since 2014 has resulted in widespread discontent among the state’s youth. The BRS is now having difficulty dealing with the state’s youth, who are becoming increasingly frustrated by the party’s broken promises and lack of action.
A State Beset with Fund Crunch
Telangana state has become a defaulter with debts, the debts taken by the corporations have exceeded the scope of FRBM. RBI also refused to give loans to Telangana. Telangana’s debts have crossed Rs 6 lakh crore. Even, RBI also refused to give loans to KCR Govt. The finance minister himself admitted that he could not pay employees due to the non-incurrence of RBI debt, revealing Telangana’s pathetic financial situation. The state government does not pay its employees on time. Corporations were formed and loans were taken so that the debts did not cross the FRBM. Moreover, BRS accused Modi govt of not funding sufficiently and making hurdles—an allegation the BJP leaders rebutted with records of sharing 9lakh crores through various schemes and funds to Telangana state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even the Congress leaders have alleged that the BRS party has been exploiting large-scale irrigation projects for personal gain, essentially turning them into personal ATMs. The BRS is accused of siphoning off funds from these projects for their own benefit, rather than utilising them for the intended purpose of improving irrigation infrastructure and supporting farmers. KCR’s daughter K Kavitha is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate over claims that she was involved in the Delhi liquor scam. As a result of these developments, Kavitha is concerned and unable to participate actively in the election campaign.
The Congress party transformed from an idealistic organization to a Nehru family centric power-driven party after India’s independence. This shift in ideology has characterized the party’s actions in all states, including Telangana. Due to intense pressure from Telangana society, Congress agreed to form Telangana as a separate state in 2014. However, it has played power politics until the last movement, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of youth. Due to increasing anti-incumbency on TRS and KCR, sections of Telangana are looking to Congress as an alternative to BRS in this elections, ignoring Congress list of scams and misrule in the state’s Congress regime.
“PM Narendra Modi will not get majority this time. Regional parties are going to rule in the future. There will be a coalition Government at the Centre in 2024. Congress and the BJP two sides of the same coin” — K Chandrashekar Rao, Telangana Chief Minister
As is customary in Congress, minority appeasement is aimed at gaining the votes of Muslims and Christians. The TPCC chief, Revanth Reddy, boasted that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi assured him that the demands of these two groups would be addressed. Muslims and Christian organizations have already laid out their demands, and they support Congress.
AIMIM exploiting its position
AIMIM is into the business of “Pure and Simple Power Politics” since it’s resurfaced in independent India in 1957. Through the strategic exercise of political power and influence in the last five decades, Owaisi family-lead AIMIM party successfully transformed the Muslims of Hyderabad into unquestioning supporters. These Muslims are in open political imprisonment spread across old city of Hyderabad, resulting in growth from 1 MLA to 7 MLAs and retaining 1 MP for last 2 decades. Despite promising to be the messiah of Muslims, Owaisi and the AIMIM continue to exploit their position by threatening Muslims not to vote for other parties.
BJP in driver’s seat
The BJP, since its Jansangh days has been “essentially an idealist but incidentally a politicial” group. However, it has made some adjustments in recent years. The party’s top-down approach, where the leadership makes decisions and the grassroots implement them, is crucial to its success. It has a relatively small but highly committed cadre in the State. However, over the last five years, it has expanded into previously untapped areas, strengthened its cadre through various activities, and created a positive atmosphere for the party. Further more, it has wisely capitalised on the anti-incumbency sentiment against the BRS and Congress through various campaigns.
PM Narendra Modi’s recent participation in the Madiga Vishwarupa Sabha (SC – Madiga) and BC Athma Gourva Sabha has the potential to alter politics. The declaration that the BC community will elect Telangana Chief Minister if the BJP wins is a powerful one. The BJP has never made such a pledge during an election in its history. For thirty years, the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), which is tasked with classifying SCs, has been unable to accomplish its goal. However, the PM’s commitment to setup a committee to examine the respectable demand is gradually influencing the SC voters, which accounts for a significant portion of the votes in the 20–30 constituencies.
Due to its performance at the national level, the BJP’s plans to bring its star campaigner to the Telangana elections. This will undoubtedly influence voters. On the other hand, aside from Rahul Gandhi, no prominent leader is visiting the State or making positive statements. The State’s old Congress leadership is against Revanth Reddy, accusing him of running the show alone and arrogantly.
KCR had failed to maintain friendly relations with central Government. Even when PM Modi was in the State on official or political business, he did not pay him a courtesy visit. He was not in INDI Alliance or his proposed Third Front due to his somersault skills in the last five years. He did, however, try to get close to Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banarjee, MK Stalin, HD Kumarswamy, Uddhav Thackrey, Pinarayi Vijayan and Aravind Kejriwal. But no one has shown any political interest or trust in him. He is currently struggling to meet his target of 60 seats on the ground.
Surprisingly, KCR is not attacking Revanth Reddy, who is accused in the famous cash for vote scandal while he was in TDP party. Revent Reddy, who was known for his bad mouth, is similarly tight-lipped about raising the issue of corruption in KCR’s Government and Kavitha’s involvement in the Delhi liquor scam. The question os whether he is hand in glove with the business lobby, or not, This will be answered after December 3rd.
However, Telangana witnessed the power politics of KCR in 2018. He successfully poached the Congress and TDP elected MLAs into BRS. Even now, if KCR fails to reach the majority of 60 seats, he is likely to buy the Congress and independent MLAs. If Congress reaches 60 mark, it will form the government for the first time in the youngest state. The BJP is predicted to reach the double digit. Parties such as the BSP, Communists, and independents, as well as caste-centric parties, are also exercising their democratic right to run for office. As in cricket match, taking singles, keeping score board ticking, is as crucial as converting the singles into doubles and hitting boundaries. This analogy is becoming so relevant to Telangana Elections. By watching all these developments and fast changing political atmosphere, a hung-house is also on the cards of poll pundits.