Who Will Attain What?
The political scenario in the state of Andhra Pradesh is turning confused more day by day ahead of general elections. As the elections are being held ahead of bifurcation of the state and new states will come into existence immediately after polls, from June 2, no party is presently certain of getting the absolute majority in either of the region. In both the new states, present indications point out towards hung assemblies.
Rubbing salt to wounds, two more new political parties are joining the electoral fray. While out-going Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, along with expelled six Congress MPs, besides three of his ministerial colleagues announced launching of a new political party on March 12 at a public meeting in Rajahmundry, familier Telugu film star and brother of Union Minister of State for Tourism K Chiranjeevi Pawan Kalyan has announced to unveil his political plans on March 14.
With court interventions, the State Election Commission swung into action to conduct polls to local bodies, ahead of general elections. While Municipal Elections for urban local bodies are slated to be held on April 30, elections to rural local bodies like Mandal Parishad and Zilla Parishads are scheduled to be held in the first week of May. These elections have been postponed for four years and now with the directions from the High Court and the Supreme Court, the election authority is swing into action.
All the political parties, which are practically not prepared even for general elections due to heated political animosity developed during the state bifurcation process, are now shocked to face local bodies polls suddenly. Almost all political parties are now appealing to the Election Commission of India to come to their rescue and ensure to postpone of local bodies polls. However, the Chief Election Commissioner Sampath made it clear that they might not interfere in the process. Now, political parties are praying at least to keep results of local bodies’ polls at abeyance, without the announcement before counting of general elections.
The announcements of starting two new political outfits have not come as a surprise to anybody, as there had been a talk about political plans of these two leaders for quite some time. However, everyone was surprised about timings of their announcements. They are starting their political moves after the Election Commission of India announced poll schedule. So it would be an impossible task for them to formulate a political machinery immediately.
First of all, one wonders whether there is any space in the political spectrum of the state for new parties at present; secondly, whether these parties have been left with any time to make an impact on the elections; and thirdly, whether they have the required cadre base and financial resources to face the elections.
Senior Telugu Desam Party leader and Leader of Opposition in State Legislative Council Yanamala Ramakrishnudu felt that had Kiran Kumar Reddy started his political party in advance he would have changed arithmetics of poll results by drastically dividing vote share of YSR Congress Party, another Congress splinter group started by YS Jaganmohan Reddy. “At this juncture practically they may not influence poll outcome”, he felt.
In a normal process, a new political party will fetch prominence only if there is a political vacuum in the state and people must be looking for a strong party to fill the vacuum. In the present political context, there is absolutely no political vacuum in either Telangana or Seemandhra regions, which are soon going to become new states.
In the Telangana region, the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi have occupied most of the political space, while the TDP and the BJP have shared the remaining little space. Similarly, in the Seemandhra region, the YSR Congress party and the TDP have already emerged as front runners for powers and the BJP and the Congress are struggling to make their presence felt.
So, one wonders where Kiran Kumar Reddy’s new political party would fit into the present scheme of things. Moreover, his ‘Samaikyandhra’ slogan does no more give an emotional appeal to the people, as the bifurcation has already been done. Even the ‘self-respect’ slogan does not work out, as it has already been hijacked by the YSR Congress party and the TDP.
The selection of right candidates, caste equations and right campaign strategy is essential for the victory. In the given scenario, one doubts whether Kiran would be able to gear up to face these challenges. Absence of district and constituency-level party structures is also likely to create havoc for them.
According to sources, Pawan Kalyan is making moves only to contest in selected seats, where his Kapu community is in a dominant position. But such a move is hardly like to yield political dividends. There is a talk that he would field candidates in nine Lok Sabha constituencies and 40 Assembly constituencies in the forthcoming elections. According to indications, he may try for alliance with Telugu Desam Party.
However, sources say that TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is not in a mood to have an alliance with Pawan Kalyan. He reportedly offered one Lok Sabha seat to either Pawan Kalyan or his another elder brother Nagababu, who is also a film start, on the condition that he should campaign for TDP candidates. His strength is mostly his film fans, besides caste composition. Presently, he is rated as number one or two hero in Telugu films. A former MP, who had associated with Praja Rajyam Party observed that “film fans hardly influence political opinion as even their own family members take them in very lighter manner”.
While Kiran Kumar Reddy hails from a reputed political family with over 50 years of association with Congress party, Pawn Kalyan has limited interaction of campaigning for Praja Rajyam Party, started by his elder brother Chiranjeevi before 2009 elections. After his brother’s merger of the party with Congress, he remained distant to political scene. However, in the case both the parties could manage to win couple of seats here and there, they may be turned to be crucial in the case of hung assembly. It may not be easy task for Kiran Kumar Reddy to find out potential candidates in most of constituencies.
Political sources felt, Kiran Kumar Reddy is playing Congress high-command scripted drama to float a new forum for Congress persons at a time the party is almost whipping out in Seemandhra region. As many as 15 legislators are joining Telugu Desam party, including three ministerial colleagues of Kiran Kumar Reddy. Already a considerable number of them joined YSR Congress Party. Very recently former Union Minister of State Daggubati Purandeswari joined BJP.
A former minister said that now they are finding it difficult to find candidates for Congres, who can spend about Rs 20 crore per Lok Sabha constituency or Rs 4 crore for an Assembly constituency for poll campaign. “No leader is ready to spare their own financial resources for a election in which defeat is certain”, he added.
By Ch Narendra from Hyderabad