He has announced candidates for 105 out of 119 Assembly seats.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is confident of improving his tally to 100 seats in the 119-member state Assembly with his master-stroke of early elections, which caught the principal Opposition party, Congress, unaware.
To add to the Opposition camp’s bafflement, he has also announced TRS candidates for 105 seats. He has told the BJP’s top brass that his re-election in Telangana would help stop the Congress’ revival in the state in the Lok Sabha elections.
KCR’s plans to go for advanced elections for Telangana Legislative Assembly were speculated over in the last two months, but gained momentum after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 25 August. At a massive rally at Kongara Kalan, on the city outskirts on 2 September, he told the gathering that he would take a decision on early elections “in the best interests of the people of the state”. On Thursday, at a Cabinet meeting held at his official residence, “Pragathi Bhavan” in Begumpet, he moved a single line resolution dissolving the Assembly and all the ministers endorsed it. Telangana Assembly’s term was till May 2019.
Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan signed the acceptance letter of the Cabinet resolution and notified the same within minutes in the presence of the CM at Raj Bhavan. Usually, the Governors take at least a few hours to take a decision regarding the dissolution of an Assembly. Narasimhan not only notified the dissolution of the House instantly, he also sent a communication to the Assembly speaker and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) immediately. CEO Rajath Kumar too sent a communication to the Election Commission of India (EC) by evening. As a result, the EC was informed about Telangana developments by the time it met for its regular meeting on Friday.
KCR said it was the opposition Congress’ “vicious campaign” against him and his government over the last few months that prompted his decision to go for early elections. He said that he wanted to seek people’s mandate afresh so that he can carry on with his developmental agenda. “I am 100% confident that I will come back to power once again,” said KCR.
KCR’s decision to opt for early elections appears to be based on four major reasons. First, he wants to avoid giving enough space and scope to Congress to regain Telangana. KCR is afraid that Congress coming to power or improving in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh might boost the morale of the party in Telangana, too. Second, he is sceptical that if the state Assembly polls are clubbed with those of Lok Sabha, naturally the national issues would dominate the poll agenda and his perceived closeness to the PM in the last few months might be viewed as a pro-BJP line and this might alienate his support base among the Muslims in the state.
Third, an oppressive summer heat and possible shortage of drinking water and power in April and May might affect his prospects and December polls are always better in view of this year’s bountiful rains and good agricultural season. KCR has promised to complete some of his flagship schemes like Mission Bhagiratha (drinking water to all households) before April/May 2019. But this as well as some other schemes are still underway and he might find it difficult to seek votes next year, without their completion. Fourth, KCR’s government would be distributing second the instalment of agricultural invest subsidy at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre to around 50 lakh farmers by October. If farmers receive the money in October, they may be supporting the ruling party. This subsidy is given to them twice a year, in May and in October. But if he goes to polls next summer, the government might not be doling out the money to farmers before elections and the farmers’ may not support TRS. The Opposition camp is divided and underprepared. Congress is frantic and eagerly waiting for the return of its president Rahul Gandhi from Kailash Manasarovar Yatra on 12 September. The TDP, though a marginal force in Telangana, is desperate to go for seat adjustments with Congress to take on KCR.
The BJP is going it alone and its national president Amit Shah will be visiting the state next week from 13 to 14 September. The CPM is heading rag-tag of some smaller parties and planning to contest all the 119 seats under the banner of Bahujan-Left Front. The CPM is knocking at the doors of the Congress for a seat sharing deal, and Prof Kodandaram led Telangana Jana Samithi is toying the idea of aligning with Congress.