Will early polls in Telangana help Chandrababu?

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao wants to surprise his opponents by going for early polls. The idea is to ensure that they don’t get an opportunity to prepare for the polls and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) reap the benefits of perceived feel good factor in the state.

However, some of his opponents from Andhra Pradesh will be happy with early elections. With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) likely to join hands with the Congress party in Telangana and the elections in Andhra Pradesh are to be held only next year, Chandrababu Naidu will have all the time to focus on Telangana.

TDP along with Left parties, Kodandaram’s Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS) other parties may join proposed ‘Maha Gathbandhan’ or grand alliance led by Congress. Even if TDP gets 12-15 seats under the seat sharing agreement among allies, the party may go all out to win as many seats as possible.

Political observers say with its very existence at stake in Telangana, TDP will not mind joining the alliance and accepting whatever seats it is offered. If grand alliance wins majority of seats, TDP will also have an opportunity to join the coalition government.

TDP had won 15 seats in 2014 elections in Telangana. This was despite the Telangana sentiment dominating the polls. It had contested the polls in alliance with BJP, which bagged 5 seats. BJP subsequently distanced from its ally and recently TDP severed its ties with the saffron party.

TDP lost almost all its MLAs to TRS during last four years. Though top most leaders quit the party, it is still believed to have considerable cadre base in some pockets of the state. While eyeing the votes of settlers, especially in and around Hyderabad, TDP will also be looking to make its presence felt in other parts of the state.

If the Telangana Assembly elections are held in December, Naidu is likely to campaign aggressively in constituencies allotted to TDP.

YSR Congress Party had also won three Assembly seats in Telangana in 2014 but all of them switched loyalties to TRS. With no major leader or cadre in Telangana, YSRCP is almost non-existing in Telangana. If at all the party wants to field few candidates to have its presence, its leader Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy may opt to campaign. Political observers say this will split the anti-incumbency votes.

Actor-politician Pawan Kalyan has already announced that Jana Sena will contest elections in both the Telugu states. The party, however, has not made any serious effort to build the organization in Telangana. Like YSR Congress, Pawan’s focus is on Andhra Pradesh.

If Jana Sena decides to contest polls in Telangana, it may not join the proposed grand alliance. In 2014, Pawan had campaigned for BJP-TDP alliance but he has since distanced himself from both the parties.

If Jana Sena contests Telangana polls on its own, Pawan Kalyan may play spoilsport for the opposition alliance. The anti-incumbency votes will thus get divided among Jana Sena, BJP and YSR Congress and it will benefit the TRS, which has already declared that it will not have alliance with any other party.

With talk of early polls creating the political heat in Telangana, all eyes will be on how the opposition alliance takes shape and what strategy the TRS comes out with to retain the power.

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