The by-elections in ten Assembly constituencies in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh next month will be a real test for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti which is seeking separate statehood.
The ruling Congress and the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party have nothing to lose and victory in even a couple of seats will only be a gain for these parties.
Of the ten constituencies facing by-elections, nine were won by the TRS and one by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2009 general elections.
These legislators resigned from their posts in February this year demanding immediate grant of statehood for Telangana even as the Centre constituted a five-member committee, headed by former Supreme Court Judge B Srikrishna, to study the situation in the state.
In all 12 MLAs – ten of TRS and one each of TDP and BJP – quit their posts but by-polls are not being held for Vemulawada and Sircilla seats in Karimnagar district because of legal hurdles.
TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao's son K T Rama Rao won the Sircilla seat by a margin of just 171 votes following which his election was challenged in the High Court.
Chennamaneni Ramesh won the Vemulawada seat on TDP ticket last time but his election too was contested on the ground that he was a "foreign" citizen. Ramesh quit the TDP after his resignation from the Assembly and joined the TRS.
In 2009, the TRS enjoyed the support of TDP as well as CPI and CPM and hence managed to win ten seats in all.
This time, however, it is fighting the by-elections on its own banking solely on the so-called "Telangana sentiment".
Interestingly, the Congress and the TDP too will be playing the Telangana card, thereby depriving the TRS of its USP.
The entry of Congress and TDP has left the TRS jittery as it hoped to get its candidates re-elected without any contest on the ground that they "sacrificed" their posts for the cause of a separate state.
The ruling party is jumping into the fray with the slogan that it is the Congress alone that could ultimately deliver Telangana.It will also use the "development" plank to win over the electorate.
The TDP would like to expose how both the Congress and the TRS had been deceiving the people of Telangana over the separate statehood issue.
Besides, it will take up the problems of the people and the state government’s failure in preventing the construction of Babli irrigation project on river Godavari by the Maharashtra government.