TRS targets winning 16 out of 17 Lok Sabha seats from Telangana, leaving one for its ally AIMIM. The strategy includes consolidating on the gains received during recent Assembly elections, further weakening the Opposition by encouraging large-scale defections.
Ten of the newly elected Opposition MLAs (nine from Congress and one from TDP) have already shifted their loyalties to the ruling party in just weeks after the Assembly elections. Tirade on both BJP and Congress, the talk of launching a national party and forging a non-BJP, non-Congress federal front is all part of Chief Minister and TRS supremo K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR's) narrative to market his regional party in the national polls.
KCR intelligently de-linked Assembly and Lok Sabha elections by resorting to premature dissolution of the House. This was aimed at preventing national political narrative taking over the regional issues. KCR is comfortably placed in the state political context. He apprehended the possibility of Congress gaining certain sections of the electorate, especially the minority, who constitute 12 percent of Telangana's population. The strategy of KCR paid rich dividends, with TRS winning 88 out of 119 seats, decimating Congress despite the latter stitching together a four-party gathbandhan, including TDP,CPI and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) apart from itself. With the defections, the TRS tally rose to 100.
Sitting pretty comfortable on an impressive victory received in the recently held Assembly elections, KCR is chalking out a foolproof strategy to win 16 out of 17 seats. Thus, the TRS wants to further decimate the Opposition.
KCR hopes that neither BJP nor Congress would be able to get a comfortable majority in Lok Sabha. The TRS sources believe that KCR expects Modi to come back with reduced margin, making him dependent on regional allies. With 16 seats in his kitty and the personal chemistry he enjoys with Prime minister Narendra Modi, KCR hopes to play a key role in national politics.
The BJP will also consider TRS as a natural ally, given the fact that both parties have Congress as their main rival in their respective political battlefields. The TRS sources also opine that KCR, who is conversant in both Hindi and English, can prove to be a bridge between Modi and the regional allies, especially in the south and eastern India. This is precisely the reason why TRS is canvassing for the victory of YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh.
All this will fructify only if KCR could win maximum seats from the state. If everything happens as per the expectations of KCR, he is expected to move to national politics, leaving the state to his son KT Rama Rao who has already been made the working president of the party, a move indicating the succession plan.
If one goes by the voting patterns of Assembly elections, TRS will easily win 14 seats and can also win the remaining two seats if extra efforts are put in. The Congress-led Opposition could establish a marginal lead over TRS in Khammam and Mahabubabad Lok Sabha segments. The TRS had one to three lakh vote margin in the remaining 14 Lok Sabha segments, leaving Hyderabad to MIM.
In fact, many developments subsequent to the Assembly election have further consolidated the TRS' position. The full swing Operation Aakarsh has rendered a body blow to the Opposition. The Congress-led Praja Kutami is in complete shambles. Besides, the defections from Congress has crippled the morale of the grand old party.
The TRS specifically targeted the Khammam district for weakening the Opposition, aiming at the Lok Sabha elections. However, the Congress intends to give a serious fight by fielding party seniors in the Lok Sabha race. But the party lost precious time since Assembly polls to change the political narrative for the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress would have certainly benefited if it succeeded in converting the poll battle into one of Modi versus Rahul Gandhi. Barring occasional statements to this effect, Congress did precious little to change the poll narrative. Meanwhile, sensing the dangers of polarisation for and against Modi, KCR is targeting BJP in a bid to create a perception that he is not with the saffron brigade, though he is fighting a straight war with the Congress.
Stating his political narrative for Lok Sabha elections, KCR — addressing public meetings at Karimnagar and Nizamabad — said, “Both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are the same. They are degrading their nation by calling each other names everyday. They won’t bother about the poor and the structural changes. We have to drive away incompetent people like Modi and Rahul Gandhi. A federal front is the need of the hour, which has the share of regional parties. I will play an important role and Telangana must lead the nation," he added.
KCR further asserted, "Our strength is not just 16 seats, we are talking to other parties and we are stronger than 150. We are getting things ready for a federal front government at the Centre...Not everything can be disclosed now.”
KCR's talk of a national party and non-BJP, non-Congress federal front is part of such an electoral strategy. Besides, the TRS is trying to convert this election also into a referendum on KCR. This would certainly help TRS as it did so in Assembly elections.
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2019 21:41:10 IST