A keen contest is on the cards in Telangana region during the upcoming local body polls in Andhra Pradesh and subsequent general elections as four national parties - the ruling Congress, BJP, CPI and BSP - and three major regional outfits – TDP, TRS and YSR Congress – will be in the fray.
None of these parties is opposed to the separate statehood sentiment prevailing in the region, though TRS, which was formed specifically to achieve the Telangana state, accuses the Congress and TDP of being ambivalent on the demand.
There are 17 Lok Sabha and 119 assembly constituencies in the Telangana region, while the coastal and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh together have 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats. The local body polls are likely to be held in July-August this year.
Union minister Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which supports the separate statehood demand, has recently sought to enter the fray. The Jat strongman from western Uttar Pradesh, who addressed a public meeting in Hyderabad last week in support of the Telangana demand, announced that his party would contest the local body elections as well as the 2014 polls.
The TRS, the political face of the separate statehood agitation, asserts that Telangana people can get the separate statehood "by dictating terms to the Centre" if the party gets 100 assembly and about 15 Lok Sabha seats.
BJP, which is in the forefront of the separate Telangana agitation, argues that it is better to vote for a national party to achieve the separate state instead of relying on a sub-regional party.
BJP president Rajnath Singh had recently addressed a public meeting and promised to form the separate state if his party came to power at the Centre.
He had also stated that his party would not ally with any party that is not agreeable to the Telangana demand even if the BJP failed to get a clear majority.
Both TRS and BJP are part of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is spearheading the separate statehood agitation.
The ruling Congress and main opposition TDP, the two dominant political parties in Andhra Pradesh, are not opposed to the separate Telangana demand. Both TDP and Congress have Telangana forums for the party leaders from the region to carry out the campaign for separate state.
Congress and TDP have considerable presence in the region with established party organisation in place from the grass roots level.
Though CPI(M) is not known to be in favour of separate Telangana, the CPI has been active in fighting for separate Telangana.
The YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy banks on the goodwill of late YS Rajasekhara Reddy and is making efforts to improve its position in the region as it mainly draws its strength from the non-Telangana regions. The YSRCP honorary president has plans to undertake mass-contact programmes to reach out to the people.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), led by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, is not a force to reckon with in Andhra Pradesh, but supports separate Telangana demand. The party had recently organised a pro-Telangana event in Hyderabad to expand its base in the region.