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Telangana – elections once again మార్చి 16, 2009

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Congress, elections, Identity, politics, TDP, Telangana, TRS.
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Elections give Telangana a brief day in the sun

G S Vasu

We used to be obscure villagers in a backward region, but of late, my fellow voters and I have become the much sought-after. And one need hardly fathom the reason. Elections are due in a month and all parties are out to convey the impression that they empathise with Telegana’s aspirations to statehood. But I can see through the hypocrisy.

 

Over the past week, I have tried talking to politicians and ordinary people to figure out where I stand in the overall scheme of things, post-elections, and I am convinced that I will be treated like a disposable napkin. This despite the fact that Telangana accounts for 119 of the total 294 constituencies in the state and the region is almost as big as Kerala or Orissa.

 

As for the present king, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, I realise he is at least honest, notwithstanding whatever he says for public consumption. He is clear in his mind. As long as he is at the helm, there is no question of splitting the State. “What would Telangana gain by separating?” he would argue, pointing out to all the major industries and ports coming up along the 900-km coastline.

 

But I might ask: “How would that help me? I have remained the way I am for decades and nothing looks likely to change in the future.”

 

My village, in fact, is known as Rallavaram, suggesting that it is boulder-strewn and arid. No major project has been completed in my region in the last five years, though the government claims to have spent as much as Rs 30,000 crore on what it fancifully calls “Jalayagnam”.

 

No new industry has come up. So, youths remain jobless. And recession is seeing the return of the few thousands who had either migrated to the Gulf in search of odd jobs or the highly-educated who went to the US for high-tech employment. There is a place called Sircilla in Karimnagar, with a rich tradition in weaving, which has the potential to become another Surat in Gujarat. So frequent have weaver suicides become here that they have virtually ceased to draw attention.

 

For all that, I do not discern any serious anti-incumbency mood. The Opposition says Reddy is the most corrupt chief minister in the country but the fact is that almost the entire populace has been “corrupted” in the name of “People’s Welfare”.

 

Take any poor family. The elderly get old age pensions. A widow in the family draws a separate pension. Womenfolk get loans that they need not repay. The family gets rice at Rs 2 per kg. On top of all this, a house for which a huge subsidy is given by the government.

 

For example, Anasuyamma got a loan of Rs 60,000 for a pair of buffalos that actually cost Rs 20,000. The balance was shared by the broker, the government officials and others. Since the loan need not be paid, everyone is happy.

 

This seems to be working well for Congress every­where except in Telangana where the separatist sentiment is still strong enough to override the benefits provided by the government. At least that is what I glean from pre-poll surveys that say Congress might get only 30-40 seats of the total 119 in the region but may still end up getting close to the required majority.

 

You may wonder what the Congress leaders from my region have been doing. Off and on, they make noises saying that the party needs to seriously consider the Telangana sentiment. But they dare not say or do anything beyond that. Take, for instance, state Congress president D Srinivas who is from my region. He and his followers frequently raise a hue and cry about how Reddy and company are stifling him because of his pro-Telangana position. He is not old but his weight (over 120 kg) is a drag, and in any case he cannot do much without the Congress label. He tried his best to keep the TRS with the Congress but Reddy ensured that that did not happen.

 

From my region I also have another former Union minister G Venkatswamy (fondly called Kaka by some) who was miffed when Madam Sonia Gandhi did not consider him for the post of President though he is among the senior-most Dalit leaders. He, too, is given to making “T” noises once in a while but the truth, as I figured out, is that he wants to protect his sons’ future. One of his sons is already a minister in Reddy’s Cabinet and now he wants his younger son, an industrialist, to be considered for the Lok Sabha seat long held by him.

 

What options does that leave me with? Telugu Desam whose chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu, ruled the state for nine years. I tried reading his mind too. The truth again is that when it comes to the demand for a separate Telangana, he actually sails with his bitter rival, YSR.

 

But he knows the public mood in the State is not swinging decisively in his favour and if he has to make any serious bid for power it is inevitable to make a “T” promise, whether or not he means to fulfil it later. So, one fine day, he shook hands with his one-time bete noir, K Chandrasekhara Rao, who floated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) after quitting the TDP in early 2000 and has been fighting for a separate State since.

 

People see it in terms of an arranged marriage. The TRS needed backing and the TDP too required all the help it could muster in fighting the ruling party. By then, the two Left parties — CPI and CPI(M) — had dumped Congress and jumped onto TDP’s bandwagon. A reversal of the 2004 election when the Left and TRS sailed with the Congress.

 

But I would have to say this is the most interesting election I have ever seen, with the entry of Chiranjeevi leading to a three-way fight in a state that has long seen a two-way battle. Many say he could at best be a spoiler but all the same end up with enough seats to play a key role post-results.

 

If Rajasekhara Reddy gets a clear majority, I will be dumped yet again. If the Grand Alliance of Opposition parties secures enough seats without having to depend on TRS, then too I will be dumped. And I don’t pin much hope on Chiranjeevi because he too is not clearly in my favour. A split verdict might give MLAs from my region a greater say and an outside chance of realising my dream. Then, again, like so many other dreams, this too may well be deferred indefinitely into the future.

 

vasu@epmltd.com

source: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Elections+give+Telangana+a+brief+day+in+the+sun&artid=zQEvlzCXxNk=&SectionID=f4OberbKin4=&MainSectionID=f4OberbKin4=&SectionName=cxWvYpmNp4fBHAeKn3LcnQ==&SEO=

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