Stakes high for KCR in by-elections

May 25th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by admin  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, May 25 (IANS) The stakes are high for Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao in the May 29 asssembly and parliamentary by-elections in Andhra Pradesh. The poll results in four Lok Sabha and 16 assembly constituencies will not only set the course for the Telangana movement but also decide his political future.

Seven years after he quit the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to float the TRS and revive the four-decades-old Telangana movement, Chandrasekhara Rao faces an acid test.

By describing the by-elections as a referendum on Telangana, TRS has turned it into a do or die battle for itself and the movement for statehood to the region made up of 10 districts in the state, including Hyderabad.

KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, has played a political gamble in an attempt to impact the next year’s elections to the Lok Sabha and the Andhra Pradesh assembly.

TRS MPs and state legislators quit in March to protest the delay in carving out a Telangana state.

Two more assembly seats including one from Telangana are also going to polls the same day following the death of legislators belonging to the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

KCR has succeeded in once again placing the issue top on the people’s agenda and forcing both his main rivals to admit the existence of a Telangana sentiment.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy admits that the Telangana issue is alive but the final solution has to come from the party’s central leadership.

Even TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, who earlier strongly opposed the state’s bifurcation, says he is not against a separate Telangana.

“The party will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time,” he tells people at election meetings.

Political observers said KCR has already won the first round by putting his rivals on the defensive.

The TRS chief’s strange moves often surprise even political pundits.

Challenged by some leaders of the Congress last year, he quit the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat and emerged stronger by defeating the ruling party candidate in the by-election by a majority of over 200,000 votes.

In 2004, he was elected with a margin of 130,000 votes.

The controversial leader, who is known for his witticism to target his rivals and highlight the injustice done to the backward region by ‘rulers from Andhra’, is a big crowd puller.

This time he faces a tough task in repeating Karimnagar in other constituencies. His rivals are targeting him for imposing repeated elections on the people.

If TRS still manages to retain a majority of the seats, it will be a big boost to the Telangana movement and might force major parties to take a clear stand before next year’s polls.

This might also help KCR to re-establish his credibility, which took a beating after 10 party legislators staged a revolt two years ago to protest his ‘dictatorial’ attitude and his deputy A. Narendra was expelled from the party last year for his alleged involvement in a human smuggling scandal.

TRS had fought the 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress. Though it won five Lok Sabha and 26 assembly seats from the region, it failed to get the status of the kingmaker in the state or in New Delhi.

TRS joined Congress-led coalition governments both in the state and at the centre. KCR defended the move saying it was done only to achieve a separate state.

However, the party pulled out of coalition in the state in 2005 and that at the centre a year later.

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