With a number of transfers in government jobs and announcement of sops, the speculations were rife about KCR opting for Early Assembly polls.
On Sunday, the city of Hyderabad witnessed the pink sea of TRS supporters flooding the streets. Some were Carrying the pink banners, flags, posters while some were even donning pink clothes and accessories with TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao’s picture over it. As promised by the IT minister of Telangana and Chief Minister KCR’s son KT Rama Rao, the “Biggest ever political rally held in India” was conducted amidst much fanfare and extravagant celebrations.
Pictures of the public attendance at #PragathiNivedanaSabha today. Tons of thanks to the lakhs of people who attended this mammoth meeting. Thanks to all the TRS party workers who toiled to make the event a success 🙏🙏🙏🙏
Travel Home safe guys 😊 pic.twitter.com/t0XWJ1FSg7
— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 2, 2018
The rally was attended by 25 lakh people. As many as one lakh vehicles transported the people to the 2,000-acre venue, the daily added. The government has also hired 7,300 state transport buses for ferrying the attendees. The dais at the venue can seat 600 leaders. Around 20,000 police personnel were deployed for the event. The event was dubbed as the “Mother of all rallies”. Considering the conventional date of elections in Telangana which is along with the Lok Sabha elections, one would wonder why the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi held such a massive political rally? Indeed, as KTR said it was to create a momentum before the elections, but that is not the only reason.
20,000 plus Farmers from Khammam led by MP Srinivas Reddy Garu have started for the #PragathiNivedanaSabha in 2000 tractors!!
They will be reaching the meeting venue a day before the meeting to beat the traffic pic.twitter.com/1Sne7f0a6w
— KTR (@KTRTRS) August 31, 2018
With a number of transfers in government jobs in the state and announcement of big-package sops, the speculations were rife about KCR opting for Early Assembly polls. Though the expected announcement did not come at the rally, it cannot be brushed aside that the rally did indicate at the signs of early polls in the state. However, this rush for early assembly elections is not newfound. Even when PM Modi suggested simultaneous polls to be held early i.e. to be held by the end of the year, KCR showed overwhelming support to it, despite most of the opposition parties registering strong opposition. Which brings us to a question, why does KCR want to advance the polls in Telangana?
KCR’s national ambition:
One of the foremost reasons why KCR wants to hold an early election in the state is his national ambitions. It is well known that KCR was the first to propose a non-BJP and non-Congress front of regional parties for 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, as the third-front has now been slid under the sheets, KCR has turned to another way to position himself relevant nation-wide. His increasing bonhomie with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an evident sign of the same.
As the BJP is almost non-existent in the state, the main opposition to TRS is Congress, which is entangled in the internal conflicts within the state unit. The early elections will help TRS to set the narrative straight and as the opinion polls predicted, help him win more than 100 seats in the state. With Chandrababu Naidu now out of NDA, BJP will find a new ally in KCR down south which can help the BJP in case it misses the 272-mark in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. TRS winning the state will only solidify KCR’s chance of elevating the party to national importance and put him in the position of negotiation where he can get his MPs inducted in the cabinet.
Avoid the tri-cornered battle:
KCR understands it well that if the Telangana assembly polls are to be conducted simultaneously with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it will turn the battle into a tri-cornered contest. With Congress trying to project Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate, the electoral battle will see a tri-cornered contest between Modi, Rahul Gandhi and KCR. Among the two national leaders, he runs a chance of being reduced to the third contestant, which is also harmful to its national ambitions. On the other hand, if he holds early polls he will have no big opposition to dent his popularity. The early polls can ensure his smooth victory as opposed to the polls in tune with Lok Sabha elections.
Avoid Congress momentum from reflecting in Telangana:
In December this year, three other crucial states are going in assembly polls- Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. With opinion polls predicting results in favour of Congress, Congress winning in Telangana would create a perception in favour of Congress nationally. This is also the reason why BJP had pushed for simultaneous Lok Sabha elections at the end of the year with Election Commission. As Congress is predicted to do well in these assembly elections, KCR would definitely not want the momentum to be carried in the state.
Risk of the election in summer:
With the state receiving good monsoon rain this year, the farmers of the state are quite relieved. To please the farmers more, KCR has already announced several welfare programmes including the Rythu Bandhu scheme with Rs 8,000 each distributing in two instalments to 58 lakh farmers. He has also announced sops for women self-help groups and even for temple priests and Imams. According to the new scheme, the temple priests will get the salary at par with Govt. staff and imams will get 5000 rupees’ salary per month. KCR has pinned his hopes on these schemes to create goodwill.
If the elections are held next year, he fears that the schemes will fade from people’s memory. By summer, if the water shortage problem arises, it would also go against the incumbent TRS. KCR would not like to take this risk.
However, even though the BJP state unit has shown strong opposition to the idea, the top leadership is not much concerned with it. On the other hand, Congress state leadership has challenged KCR to dissolve the assembly and face the elections right away. Though TRS has geared up for early polls, both politically and financially, it would depend on Election Commission.
The TRS has made its move, but the ball is now in the EC’s court.