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Congress, TDP to form grand alliance in Telangana, start seat-sharing talks

A panel of the Telangana Congress party leaders began negotiations with the representatives of the Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Jana Samithi and CPI at a hotel in the state capital to strike a deal on the possible alliance.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2018 21:51 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Congress,TDP,TRS
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu (PTI)

Three political parties including the Congress and Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP on Tuesday agreed to form a rainbow coalition against the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi for assembly elections in the state later this year, the first time that the TDP, set up on an anti-Congress plank in 1982, will team up with the Congress.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had last week avoided simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly by recommending dissolution of the state assembly nearly nine months before its term ends.

The election commission hasn’t decided the timing of state polls and its team is in the state to assess the preparedness of the election machinery. It is, however, widely expected that the state would go to polls later this year, possibly around the same time a few other states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, have their state elections.

The early election had nudged opposition parties to fast track talks on forming the coalition.

Apart from the two major parties, the opposition’s grand alliance in Telangana will also comprise the CPI. And there are efforts to rope in the CPM and the Telangana Jana Samithi, the political party floated earlier this year by the retired Osmania University professor M Kodandaram.

Once a protégé of K Chandrasekhar Rao, the retired professor had, for years, led the Telangana Joint Action Committee which spearheaded the agitation that led to the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014. He formed the party earlier this year complaining that Rao had failed to make a difference to the lives of people.

K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s had won the 2014 assembly election hands down, and had 90 of the 119 seats in the assembly when its term was abruptly ended.

A senior Congress leader said there was general consensus among the three parties on forming a grand alliance and negotiations to work out the seat sharing formula started at a city hotel on Tuesday.

“The parties are working out the finer details of contesting such as identifying the strength of each party in various assembly constituencies and the chances of their victory in the event of an alliance. The number of seats to be shared has not yet been discussed,” a senior Congress leader familiar with the development said.

He, however, said the party is keen on contesting in not less than 90 seats in the 119-member assembly.

“This is essential, if the Congress party has to win the magic figure of 60 seats to come to power independently,” the leader said.

If the Congress holds on to this stand, it would mean the Congress can offer only 29 seats to its new allies.

But the TDP is keen to contest at least 25-30 seats.

“If we adopt a give and take approach, it is not difficult to forge an alliance,” the Congress leader said.

There are suggestions this wouldn’t be such a problem.

Shortly after deciding to fight the assembly election from the same side, leaders of the three parties went as part of a delegation to Raj Bhavan in the evening and submitted a memorandum to Governor ESL Narasimhan seeking recommendation for imposition of President’s Rule in Telangana.

“The caretaker government led by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has started witch-hunting of the opposition party leaders by digging out old cases and getting them arrested. We are afraid there would not be free and fair elections in the state if KCR continues in his seat. So, the Governor should recommend for the President’s Rule in the state,” state Congress president Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy said.

On Wednesday, the Election Commission team will hold talks with state chief secretary SK Joshi and other officials to discuss the poll-preparedness. The state election authorities already started second special summary revision of electoral rolls on Monday, which would be completed by October first week. As per the second summary revision -2018 draft electoral rolls, the total number of voters in Telangana is 261 lakh, official sources said.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 19:25 IST