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As early poll dream crashed, Bumpy Road ahead for Mr KCR

Credit: Telangana CMO's Facebook Account

Strong ripples of North saffron surge rattles the dreams of  Telangana’s chief minister K Chandrasekhar  Rao, popularly known as KCR, to hold early elections for the state assembly. A recent survey, conducted on instructions of Mr. KCR, given a landslide victory for the ruling TRS with chances of winning 101 to 106 seats out of 119 seats in the assembly. After winning 63 seats in 2014 elections, the pink party consolidated its strength  to 90 by encouraging  defections from other parties.  To avoid the impact of national issues on assembly elections, Mr KCR wants early elections, according to the political circles. The early poll rumors become stronger after the state budget presented on 13th March, 2017. 2017-18 budget was presented with Rs 1.5 lakh crore, nearly 25 percent over to the previous year’s revised estimates. 2016-17 budget was revised to Rs 1.2 kakh crore. .  Sensing the ongoing damage , Mr KCR himself declared that he is not for early elections.  

“I am not playing any “tricks” with a view to advancing polls,” the Chief Minister said in the Legislative Council on Wednesday while reacting to a charge of Congress State president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy that the TRS government appeared to go for mid-term polls going by the concessions offered to various sections of people in the budget, reported The Hindu

 State IT and Industries minister KT Rama Rao, known as KTR, also ruled out early elections.

“Certainly not. We are not in a hurry. People gave us mandate for five years and we have to work according to their aspirations. We have lots of plans chalked out for the next two and half years”, KTR told to Telangana Today, an English daily owned by his family on Tueday.

In the same interview, Mr KTR avoided the direct answer to a question about pre or post poll alliance with BJP.

“We are comfortable now, even in a different situation in 2014, we got 63 seats. Our presence in Hyderabad and south Telangana was not much, but after developing the State on all fronts and chalking out plans for development of all communities, we are sure to be on top, and GHMC election and Paleru by-poll are examples,” replied Mr KTR.

But it looks, TRS is apprehensive about the poll prospectus in 2019 elections, as there are ample indications that Karnataka might also fall in to the BJP’s lap in the elections to be held early in the next year.

BJP win in Karnataka assembly polls may herald new political situation the south, especially Telangana.  Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu going to play a key role in upcoming Karnataka elections as he is familiar with state people and leadership. Mr Naidu represented three times from the state in Rajyasabha, before moving to Rajasthan in 2016. Dominant  presence of Telugu people in Bengaluru, Kolar districts and also bordering districts. Tepid progress in YS Jagan’s cases, is also seen as a part of game plan of BJP to get Reddy votes in Karantaka.  Media flashed photos of Karantaka Ex chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and a host of  Telugu leaders at the marriage of mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy’s daughter, even defying the orders of Party President Amit Shah. Gali Janardhan Reddy has also got a relief from Karnataka High court’s judgment quashing Enforcement Directorate (ED) charges in illegal mining and export of iron ore.  Telugu state leaders, who predominantly are from corporate houses, are observing the developments in Karantaka, which will have a direct impact on both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

KCR’s dilemma

Mr KCR is more confused man today. KCR wants to harp on muslim votes with 12 percent reservations, a promise given to them in the last elections. He also bestowed a major chunk of political and non-political posts in to Muslims leaders. Sensing the political benefits, BJP has been strongly opposing a 12 per cent reservation to Muslims. Post UP elections, KCR is in an insipid situation due to two reasons. One is the fear of pro Hindu vote polarization and another is the weak state. In changed scenario all parties in Telangana banking on backward class votes, which more dominant in rural areas.

To consolidate Backward Classes (BCs) vote bank,  BJP had replaced  G Kishan Reddy in 2016 with Munnuru Kapu leader and floor leader of the party in state Assembly,  K Lakshman as the state party president . BCs presence is highest in Telangana at 53% (excluding Hyderabad) and lowest in the city itself at 35%. It is an advantage to BJP as MIM is dominant only in Hyderabad.

In its report Justice BN Krishna Committee, which was endorsed the task of to look into the pros and cons of United Andhra Pradesh bifurcation, observed that BCs had a strong presence  in Telangana, both politically and economically,  than any other group. According to the report,

“The BC category is extremely heterogeneous with numerous caste groups having varied positions in the socio-economic hierarchy.  Occupying the middle rungs of the caste hierarchy (between upper castes such as Brahmins, Reddys, Velamas, Kammas, Kapus etc. and lower castes such as Malas and Madigas), they are generally occupational groups or traditional service castes such as toddy tappers, weavers and small agriculturists.  Some of the OBC castes are becoming economically, socially and politically more influential with economic growth taking place while others remain quite backward.”

Telangana CM KCR’s move to provide 12 percent reservation to Muslims will affect the present reservation formula and will exceed 50 percent reservation threshold fixed by the constitution.  Any disturbance in existing reservations may lead to a large scale opposition from BCs, which had direct impact on the poll prospectus. BJP is keenly waiting for things to happen, so that it can jump in and cash the situation.  KCR wants to have reservations above 50 per cent similar to Tamilnadu. But his dream will come true only if there is strong support from Union Government which is doubtful in the current political situation. On the other hand, to appease BCs, KCR government had announced huge and populistic schemes in the present budget (Budget was prepared well before UP election results) targeting them. But budget promises need Modi’s support to materialize.  Even after three years of state formation, KCR’s government has failed to fulfill the key promises made in the consecutive budgets. The maiden budget was cut from Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs. 62,000 Crore. The second budget of 2015-16, which was presented with Rs. 1.15 lakh crores ended with actual of Rs 97,922 crore, again a short fall of Rs. 17,000 crores to budge figures. Third budget for Rs 1.30 Crore was presented to cut it again to Rs 1.12 lakh crore in its revised estimates. It is yet to be seen what the final and actual expenditure will be as the demonetization is taking a huge toll on state treasury.  The newly carved state went for a huge debt borrowing, which pushed the state into a debt trap. The Public Debt Account of the state was opened with Rs 61,711 crore galloped to  Rs 1,48,060 Crore, according to the latest budget presented to assembly on 14th March 2017.

Not being  in a position to spend Rs 1 lakh crore in a year, the state government had presented Rs. 1.49 lakh crore budget  targeting early elections, preferably next year. Post GST Regime it is yet to be seen how the state will meet the expenditure.

No alternative

In the changed scenario, it is likely that KCR might join hands with PM Modi. Mr KCR, who supported demonetisation, might seek more funds from the center.  According to the political circles, KCR may go with 12 percent Muslim Reservations, knowing its ultimate destination. “This latest reservation proposal’s fate might also hangs in uncertainty in the court of law, like a decade old 4 percent reservation issue is pending in the Supreme Court”, said a senior Urdu journalist from Hyderabad.  On its part, AIMIM too may welcome TRS-BJP  alliance , as it will benefit from this tie up.  A strong BJP combine means, cementing MIM’s base more in old city and it may win all the 7 assembly seats hands down in 2019 elections. But it is yet to be seen whether MIM will field candidates outside the City, because there has been a strong criticism on MIM of helping BJP indirectly.  Who save the congress, if Owaisi brothers repeats the same formula like in other states.  What will be Congress’s game plan then?


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