Andhra Pradesh is witnessing a mini-general election in the aftermath of the mass resignation of Telengana Rastra Samithi (TRS) MPs and MLAs demanding a separate state.
Elections are being held for 18 assembly (17 in Telengana, one in coastal Andhra) and four Lok Sabha seats. Given the fact that each LS constituency has seven assembly segments, the total number of assembly constituencies going to polls is 45.
The TRS terms the by-elections — to be held on May 29 — a referendum on Telengana and is doing everything to whip up sub-regional sentiments among the people. Its leader K Chandrasekhar Rao, a former Union minister, claimed the “T-sentiment” is very strong and will see his party through. He is on campaign blitzkrieg touching almost every village, spewing venom on the Congress and TDP for their “betrayal” of Telengana.
Aware some of his candidates faced anti-incumbency, he is telling people not to “care about frivolous issues like the candidate not visiting them”. Forget everything for the larger goal that is Telengana. If TRS candidates lose, all doors for achieving a separate Telengana will be shut,” he warns.
The ruling Congress, in an about-turn, recently admitted the T-sentiment was present but added it was banking on massive development works in the region to snatch the seats from the TRS. That the Congress is taking the by-elections seriously is evident from the way Chief Minister YSR Reddy has plunged into campaigning: donning farmer attire and touring all segments braving the intense heat.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, for his part, is on a five-month padyatra and is currently campaigning in Telengana, calling the Congress and TRS villains.