As many as 120 municipal corporations and municipalities would go to polls, results of which would be declared on 25 January.
Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has appointed his son and TRS executive president K.T. Rama Rao (KTR) as head of campaign committee of the party for the coming municipal elections slated to be held on 22 January. As many as 120 municipal corporations and municipalities would go to polls, results of which would be declared on 25 January.
What created commotion in the ruling TRS is the announcement of KCR, who is its president, that any minister who fails to win any civic body in his district would be sacked from the Cabinet. “It is your responsibility to sort out the problems of rebels and dissidents and ensure victory of the official candidates of the party elections,” said KCR in an election meeting at the party office this week.
TRS which got a handsome win in the Assembly elections in December 2018 is expected to win at least 70% of the civic bodies going by its tally of 88 MLAs out of the total 119 seats in the Assembly. Another 16 MLAs from other parties joined it subsequently. Still, the ruling party’s graph fell in the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019 as it lost seven MPs—four to BJP and three to Congress out of the total 17.
KCR is keen on restoring the prestige of TRS by wresting almost all the municipal corporations and not less than 80% of the municipalities in this month’s elections. In normal course, this is not a difficult challenge to the ruling party which is strong in all areas in Telangana. But the possibility of rebels who fail to secure tickets rocking its boat stares in the face of the TRS leadership.
TRS is troubled with plenty of problems, as a huge number of leaders from other parties—mostly from Congress and TDP—has joined it in the last few years and they are all jostling for one or the other post in the establishment. Municipal corporations and municipalities are the most sought after elected posts for local leaders as they can command issue urban layouts and public works etc.
Moreover, the differences between the MLAs who had joined TRS from other parties and those who were there from the beginning, too, are bound to spoil the chances of the official candidates. In several districts, there is no coordination between the ministers and the MLAs and MLCs. This would create problem of rebels in most urban areas.
On the other hand, both BJP and Congress are trying hard to prove their political muscle and emerge as the main challenger to the ruling party in the next four years. BJP is ahead in this race for the principal Opposition space as it wants to come to power in the 2023 Assembly elections. The saffron party has admitted a large number of leaders from other parties in the last one year for the purpose.
BJP is focusing its efforts to win the municipal corporations of Nizamabad and Karimnagar, from where it won two MPs seats last year. Nizamabad has become the prestigious civic body for both BJP and TRS as CM KCR’s daughter Kavitha lost her election in the Parliament elections. Now, she is looking after distribution of tickets and campaign strategy for the Nizamabad corporation elections.
BJP MP Aravind Dharmapuri who defeated her is leaving no stones unturned to prove t hat his win is not a fluke. His father and Rajya Sabha MP D. Srinivas, too, is indirectly working for BJP here. Srinivas has been sidelined from TRS for over two years as he fell from the grace of Kavitha. KCR has drafted several seniors, including Minister Vemula Prashant Reddy, to ensure victory of TRS in Nizamabad city.
Another prestigious municipal corporation is Karimnagar, where BJP’s Bandi Sanjay defeated TRS senior B. Vinod Kumar in the Parliament elections. Sanjay, being a former mayor of Karimnagar, is working hard to retain his grip over the city, while Vinod Kumar, now the vice-president of Telangana state planning board, is struggling to get back his lost prestige here.
The Congress, too, is trying hard to re-group is forces and stay the main opposition party in Telangana. The party is hoping to win at least one or two corporations and two dozen of municipalities as several of its seniors want to retain their grip in politics. Interestingly, Congress tried hard in the High Court to postpone the election process on technical grounds, but failed to secure a stay.