Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Telangana: Who won? Who lost?


New Delhi: Now that Telangana is a fact, the political teaser is: who won, who lost?

Has the Congress won a desperate gambit at the last minute when it gathered courage to push through the Telangana bill in the teeth of Seemandhra opposition? Or is it a pyrrhic victory because prediction all round is that Congress will be voted out of office after a decade-long stint at the Centre this summer?

It is clear that Telangana decision will result in the total decimation of Congress in the Seemandhra region. It is for this reason that Seemandhra Congress MPs have been opposing the Telangana bill so vehemently, so passionately. They could see that this was political death warrant for them.

The YSR Congress Party led by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, which has been shouting from roof-tops that it is for a united Andhra Pradesh hopes to gain the most in Seemandhra with its 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats from this decision. His main opponent is Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by N.Chandrababu Naidu, whose political star has been waning for the last decade and who is now looking to revive his political fortunes.

The Congress stands to, or hopes to, gain in Telangana with its 17 Lok Sabha and 119 assembly seats. But it cannot enjoy the political dividend in splendid isolation. It has to share the laurel and the glory with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of K. Chandrasekhara Rao, because it is TRS and Rao who had steadfastly spearheaded the demand for a separate Telangana, and Congress’s central leaders in the party and in the government did not show that unwavering commitment which was the virtue of TRS.

Congress may lose out this time round in Seemandhra, and the party leaders and MPs are reconciled to the imminent drubbing, but they are quite confident that they will remain a factor in both Seemandhra and Telangana in the long run.

The TDP too has claims to be present in Seemandhra and Telangana because the popularity of its founder and matinee idol N.T.Rama Rao was unmatched in the nooks and corners of the undivided state, and when TDP won its political spurs for the first time in 1983, it won across the state. That is why, the TDP, like the Congress, is faced with two wings -- the Seemandhra and Telangana. The question remains whether the TDP will hold good in Telangana because its top leaders are all from Seeamandhra. It was one of the reasons that K.Chandrasekhara Rao broke away from the TDP in 2000 and set himself on the path for creating a separate Telangana.

The TRS will remain confined to Telangana because its political agenda has placed a natural boundary for its growth.

The new comer, YSR Congress led by Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy, could have hoped to be a pan-Andhra Pradesh party because his late father, chief minister Y.S.Rajaeskhara Reddy has won over the poor in the Telangana districts during his stint in office from 2004 to 2010 when he died in a helicopter crash through welfare measures. But Jagan Mohan Reddy has sacrificed his political future in Telangana by unqualifiedly opposing the formation of the new state. For the moment, he is confined to Seemandhra.

The BJP, which had supported the passage of the Telangana bill, is politically present in Telangana and absent in Seemandhra. It may not have any immediate gain because the political glory would be shared between the Congress and the TRS immediately. But it can hope to win a few seats in Telangana.

The BJP and the TDP, the BJP and the YSR Congress are looking at each other for possible and probable political alliances. Both the TDP and the YSR Congress will have a tough time justifying an alliance with the BJP which has supported Telangana.

The other local political player is the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi hopes to spread its wings all over Telangana. Right now, it is confined to the old city of Hyderabad.

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