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KCR dissolves Telangana assembly for early polls, calls it a sacrifice

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Thursday recommended dissolving the state assembly, nine months before its term ends.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2018 21:34 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
KCR Meeting,Telangana Assembly dissolution,Telangana Assembly news
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (left) shows the victory sign at a public rally at Pragati Nivedana Sabha in Kongara Kalan, Telangana on Sunday.(PTI)

Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the Telangana assembly on Thursday, taking a step towards holding early elections in the southern state in a move analysts say may have been prompted by a desire to fight a possible Congress-Telugu Desam Party alliance in the state on his own terms (and timing), even as speculation grew about his growing closeness to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Governor ESL Narasimhan accepted the resolution after a visit by Rao, who chaired the 15-minute cabinet meeting that took the decision. Polling in Telangana is due in April-May, when the country will vote in the general elections. The final decision on whether to hold an early election in the state now rests with the Election Commission.

The poll panel will meet on Friday to take a call on whether voting in Telangana can be clubbed with the upcoming elections in four other states later this year. An official aware of the developments said that the commission will arrive at a decision after receiving a detailed report from the chief electoral officer of the state on various aspects of poll preparedness.

The TRS had 90 of the 119 seats in the state assembly. The state sends 17 members to the Lok Sabha.

The governor asked Rao and his council of ministers “to continue in office as a caretaker government”, said a press note from the Raj Bhavan. Soon after, Rao announced candidates for 105 constituencies in Telangana even as he faced criticism by the Opposition, which said the chief minister was trying to avoid simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly.

Addressing a packed press conference at the headquarters of his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Rao said, “There is a political fragility in the state now. The opposition parties, especially the Congress party, have been making serious allegations against me and my government without any basis and evidence.”

Watch: Telangana assembly dissolved, early polls predicted

He may have been referring to the Congress calling him Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “puppet” earlier this week. In his conference, Rao also referred to Congress president Rahul Gandhi as a “buffoon”. Rao has met Modi three times in the 10 weeks, prompting speculation that he may be aligning with the party. Interestingly, Rao has also been flirting with leaders of the federal-front-in-the-making that hopes to take on the BIP in 2019.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, also said that the Opposition was trying to “demoralise and discourage us from going ahead in the path of development”. “That is precisely why we have decided to dissolve the assembly and seek fresh mandate from the people so the wheels of progress can continue to roll...for another five years.”

He described the decision as a supreme sacrifice by the party and thanked his cabinet colleagues and legislators for having faith in him. “Not a single MLA raised any objection to my decision. I salute them.”

Rao denied that this party has plans of forming an alliance with the BJP even though “we have been maintaining cordial relations with the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government”.

Rao said that he was hopeful that the state elections will be held in November-December with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, where polling is due later this year.

According to reports, Rao’s decision to go for an early election was aimed at cashing in on what he believed was a “positive atmosphere” in favour of his government.

The Congress lashed out at the TRS move to bring down the curtains on the first elected Legislative Assembly in the state about nine months before the completion of its term.

“It shows the dictatorial mentality of chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao. By going for early polls, he has indirectly admitted that his party would lose the elections if they are held as per the schedule in April,” said R C Khuntia, the All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Telangana.

Sravan Dasoju, a spokesperson of the Telangana unit of the Congress, told PTI, “The state was formed after so much of struggle and sacrifices. People had so many hopes of development... promises have not been fulfilled.”

The council of ministers led by CM Rao assumed office on June 2, 2014, the day Telangana came into existence.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in Delhi, “KCR is a stooge of BJP and is acting as a puppet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. He has betrayed the interest of people of Telangana.”

On the day of fast-paced developments, the Telangana Congress indicated that it was not against forming an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party, which might take a call on the possible tie-up on September 8.

Telangana BJP president K Laxman said, “We are ready to face the elections. There is absolutely no worry.” He said KCR could not cite a proper reason behind the dissolution of the assembly. “Obviously, he is scared of growing anti-incumbency,” he said.

At a public rally in Husnabad on Friday, Rao will virtually kick-start his election campaign, asking for the people’s mandate for a second successive term. “In 2014, too, KCR began his election campaign from Husnabad. Now, he is going to sound the poll bugle from this place again. He is going to address as many as 100 public meetings in a span of 50 days,” T Harish Rao, KCR’s nephew and the irrigation minister, said.

The TRS won 63 seats in the 2014 assembly elections, but its strength rose over time, with MLAs from the opposition joining Rao’s party. Twelve MLAs of the TDP crossed over to Rao’s party.

“We have denied tickets to only two sitting MLAs and kept in abeyance the candidatures of five others. In the remaining seven seats, we shall finalise the candidates very soon,” Rao told the media.

Sriram Karri, an author and a political analyst, said, “If Telangana goes to polls along with the Lok Sabha, the people will be influenced by the BJP or the Congress agenda. This KCR does not want. He wants that he should be the rallying point in the elections.”

First Published: Sep 06, 2018 13:32 IST