Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s gambit in dissolving the state Assembly and calling for early polls is based on a few political postulates. His desire not to get marginalised if the polls were to be clubbed with the larger general election is one reason for his seeking an early mandate. The Lok Sabha polls will be all about Narendra Modi versus the rest, where the status of Telangana’s founder that KCR earned in united Andhra’s bifurcation might be sidelined. Also, in separating the state from the nation, the TRS chief gives himself the leeway of not entertaining alliances for the Telangana polls, where he will be wooing the Muslim minority vote without stressing too much on his preference for the BJP-dominated NDA. In his state campaign, KCR can bait his bete noir, the Congress, and the BJP while leaving his national alliance or post-poll options open.
In declaring candidates for most of the 119 seats, the chief minister may have shown his hand a bit more. His initiative in trying to seize the moment may not have gone down well with the Congress, which curiously calls early polls anti-democratic while seeking the resignation of the government at every turn during its term. Feeling the pulse of the people is not an exact science, but KCR is betting on his hunches in a huge gambit in a political scenario where no elected government would like to give up on a full term. Where KCR may have scored till now is in his and his party’s greater preparedness for polls in November-December and his use of cordial ties with the Centre to ensure he has his way with the timing. Having lost an ally in Andhra’s N. Chandrababu Naidu recently, the BJP couldn’t possibly have placed any obstacles in KCR’s path even if the early election he called for goes against the grain of simultaneous polls that both parties are batting for.
Although uncommon, the TRS gambit is not without precedent in Indian politics. The southern regional satraps have invariably backed the doctrine of being in control in the state while seeking cordial ties with the party in power in New Delhi, although that doesn’t always work out, as history has shown with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The presence of the TDP, either on its own or in an alliance or pre-poll pact with the Congress and possibly the TJS, could well complicate the scenario as it hadn’t fared badly in the first-ever Telangana polls, when in alliance with the BJP it won 15 seats. The atmosphere ahead of early polls has been vitiated by KCR’s unprovoked attack on the Congress president. But then the CM may have become confident due to the huge majority his party held in the Assembly he has just dissolved.