“I may not see Telangana in my lifetime,” rues Yadaiah, a motorcycle mechanic in Sircilla, Karimnagar district. “Of course, I don’t know how it (statehood) is going to improve my life. Nonetheless it’s a cherished sentiment,” he says.
As the campaign for the first phase of polls in Andhra Pradesh, involving 22 Lok Sabha and 154 assembly constituencies, nears a close, Telangana has once again emerged as a key factor. Political parties of all hues admit that the outcome in the Telangana districts, comprising 17 Lok Sabha and 119 assembly constituencies, will be decisive.
No wonder none of the political parties wants to take a chance here. The Telengana Rashtriya Samiti, the original pro-Telangana party, joined the Telugu Desam Party-led ‘grand alliance’ realising its limitations in a multi-cornered contest. There continue to be differences among alliance partners and in places, friendly contests involving alliance partners. However, the grand alliance has projected a united image on the issue of granting statehood to Telangana and other regional issues.
The Congress is not far behind. Having stoutly opposed the bifurcation of the state, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy was made to take a U-turn. Later Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi addressed meetings where they aggressively wooed people by promising Telangana. The Congress also invoked Indira ‘amma’ (as Indira Gandhi, who represented Medak Lok Sabha seat from Telangana, is known). The region is witnessing a virtual direct contest between the grand alliance and the Congress.
Then there is the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of Chiranjeevi, but its candidates are unlikely to make a dent despite the presence of a large chunk of people from Chiranjeevi’s Kapu community. But infighting and the resignation of several top leaders alleging corruption in distribution of tickets has dented the image of the PRP.
The grand alliance is aggressively wooing people reminding them of the Congress betrayal after coming to power in 2004 and highlighting corruption in the state. The grand alliance has a please-all manifesto, offering among other goodies, free colour TVs and cash to every poor and middle class family.
The Congress has nothing new to offer. It’s banking on its achievements — old-age pension, Indira Awas Yojna houses and medical reimbursement under Rajiv Arogyashri.
In the three coastal districts in the north, a traditional TDP stronghold comprising five Lok Sabha and 35 assembly seats which will go to polls on April 16, there will be a triangular fight between the Congress, the grand alliance and PRP.