Telangana plank could prove Naidu?s undoing
A berth in the ministry may not be much in the days of jumbo-sized cabinets. But the denial of a minister's post to an aspirant four years ago is proving be the undoing of N. Chandrababu Naidu.
K. Chandrasekhar Rao, a three-term MLA who wanted a cabinet berth but was given the Deputy Speaker's post, quit in anger and floated the Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS). The TRS is seeking separate statehood for Telangana. Now, the four-year-old party, which has whipped up emotions in the region, could halt Naidu’s attempted third term in office.
The TRS quickly established itself as the voice of the people of the region and cobbled an alliance with the Congress. Today, there is a direct contest between the TDP-BJP and the Congress-TRS in the region. In 1999, the division of these votes helped the TDP-BJP to win 13 of the 16 Lok Sabha and 58 of the 107 assembly seats.
"Telangana is the most neglected region of the state. The people here feel that separate statehood is the only solution. Earlier, Chenna Reddy channelised this latent anger into an agitation, now Rao is doing the same," said Harish, a student of Kakatiya University at Mahboobabad.
While most people in Telangana have no illusion about the hurdles in the path of separate statehood, they sympathise with Rao for airing their feelings. Besides, they enjoy Rao's colourful criticism of Naidu, who is opposed to the division.
It is the first general elections for the TRS and its actual strength is not known. But in the 2001 Zila Parishad polls, the party secured 20 per cent of the votes in Telangana, which works to 7 per cent of total state votes. Supposing this vote bank is intact and added to the Congress' 41 per cent polled last time, the combine could sweep the polls.
The latest opinion polls show a 4 per cent swing against the TDP in Telangana. If they are correct, then it could be a reversal of the 1999 situation in Telangana.