It is one-man, one-party race for Lok Sabha in Telangana

(by Shankar Raj)

As a young man, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was an ardent fan of the late mega star and Telugu Desam Party founder N T Rama Rao. He was such an emotional fan of NTR that KCR named his son and political heir of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) after Rama Rao.

Years later, KCR continues to draw inspiration from NTR by converting Telangana into a one-man political show – just as Rama Rao did when he launched the TDP and ruled Andhra Pradesh. NTR considered himself to be the sole representative of Andhra pride and the electorate. He used to boast that he was the Cabinet and the State!

In Telangana, KCR is following the footsteps of NTR and making the picture larger.

Today, the slogan for the Lok Sabha polls is “Your vote is for KCR. No matter who the candidate is.” KCR is keen that the TRS must capture all the 17 seats from the State and be a force to reckon with in Delhi.

When NTR was the CM, he used dismiss even the most potential winner saying candidates do not matter at all for him in elections. He used to proudly say that even a twig in a broomstick could be fielded and he could get it elected on a TDP ticket — only because of him.  This is exactly what KCR’s son and TRS working president KT Rama Rao has been saying in all his election rallies – that no one else mattered but only KCR.

Like NTR, KCR has been able to focus the political limelight on himself. This he had done through two strategies: One, in a masterstroke, he opted for Assembly elections ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and managed to draw the attention of voters on local issues. His logic was that when simultaneous polls are held, the TRS tends to suffer as voters get confused. And, he proved himself right by winning a massive 88 of the 119 seats in the December 7 elections, pushing the Congress to the ‘also ran’ category with just 19, TDP 2 and BJP 1. The aftereffects of this massive win will would surely be reflected in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Secondly, KCR made it clear that Telangana has no space for any other political party and managed to rope in key political leaders from the Opposition in the state, thus debilitating other political groups.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha, the TRS has decimated the Congress in Telangana. With TRS sure to win, Congress MLAs are queuing up to join KCR’s party. Beeram Harshvardhan Reddy from Kollapur constituency was the eighth MLA to recently join the TRS.

KCR has been able to attract these MLAs by doling out massive funds to develop their constituency and assuring that they would be given party ticket during by-poll.

The TDP is no better off. Industrialist and former MP Nama Nageswara Rao, one of the richest men in politics with declared assets worth Rs 113 crore and a politburo member of the TDP, has joined the TRS. This has come as a big body blow to the Telugu Desam in Telangana which wanted to field him in Khammam. Now, Rao is the TRS candidate.

Today the situation of the Congress is so grim that of the 17 Lok Sabha constituencies, Congress does not have a single MLA in six constituencies — Adilabad, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar, Karimnagar, Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The Congress has just one MLA each in eight Lok Sabha seats — Adilabad, Malkajgiri, Medak, Nagarkurnool, Peddapalli, Warangal, Zahirabad and Nalgonda.

But what is the KCR magic? Without doubt, it is his various welfare schemes like ‘Raithu Bandhu’ investment support scheme for farmers, social security pensions, 24-hour power supply for farmers and construction of double bedroom houses for the poor.

So, where does KCR get the money for these schemes? Telangana has cash cows in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad which generates maximum revenue for the state.

The welfare schemes have paid handsome dividends to the TRS, and with KCR emphasising that he is the sole representative of ‘Telangana pride’ and ‘Bangaru (golden)Telangana’, he continues to hold sway over the electorate.