There certainly seems to be some madness in the method for the Congress despite it being on the ropes in the Centre. It is now clear that it cannot go it alone in the northern states and hit a home run. But, whether by chance or accident, things seem to be falling in place in the south. There is little doubt that the United Democratic Front (UDF) will replace the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala come the assembly elections. But the states that bring in the numbers are Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. And here, the Congress, if all goes well, seems to have played its cards right. By roping in movie star Chiranjeevi and his Praja Rajyam Party, the Congress has struck the first blow towards neutralising the problems it may face from rebels like Jaganmohan Reddy.
The Congress also seems more willing now to come to an agreement with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) on the formation of a new Telangana state despite the fact that the fate of Hyderabad could be a thorny issue. The TRS, which has literally brought Hyderabad to its knees, now seems in a more amenable mode on a mutually acceptable accommodation with the Centre. The ill-timed efforts made by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and its leader N Chandrababu Naidu’s fast on the farmers’ suicide issue have made no impact on the political landscape, again a positive for the Congress. In Tamil Nadu, the 2G spectrum controversy has definitely dented the DMK chief minister M Karunanidhi’s efforts to play caste politics on the A Raja issue. The Congress may well look at regrouping with the AIADMK, though it is as fraught with danger as its present alliance. The AIADMK’s mercurial leader J Jayalalithaa has been in the political wilderness for a while and she seems to sense that a convenient alliance with the Congress could unseat her bete noire, the DMK.
As for the BJP’s adventures in the south, the party which opened its southern innings in Karnataka in 2007, today finds itself in a quagmire in the state with the scandals revolving around chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and the unfortunate incidents involving the Bellary brothers who are thought to be close to senior leaders in the party. Of course, it remains to be seen how well the Congress will build on these developments. But as of now, it could not have hoped for better prospects. Much depends on how the Grand Old Party will weather the storm of scams at the Centre. But public memory is short and if it can ride this out, the south certainly seems to be there for the taking.