Hyderabad, January 31: The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) appears to be on a shaky ground in the run-up to the impending by-elections to six assembly seats in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
Contrary to expectations that it would ride high on the so-called ‘Telangana sentiment’ in the by-polls, the TRS may have lost a lot of ground in the last few months after the statehood movement remained paralysed, observers say.
Adding to its woes is the strong antagonism being faced by at least two of its probable candidates in their respective segments where by-elections are due.
Gampa Govardhan of Kamareddy in Nizamabad district and T Rajaiah of Station Ghanpur in Warangal district, who resigned from their assembly seats after switching over to TRS from Telugu Desam and Congress respectively, are said to be facing rough weather in their constituencies for “personal” reasons.
This is causing anxiety in the TRS which cannot field alternative candidates as it has to keep the promise of fielding the incumbents who “sacrificed” their posts for the cause of Telangana state.
“If we can’t win these seats, a fresh campaign will be launched by the opponents (of a separate state) that the Telangana issue has died down. But the ground situation is different,” a member of the TRS politburo pointed out.
In Mahbubnagar constituency too the TRS is caught in an awkward position. It wants to field Telangana Employees’ Joint Action Committee leader Srinivas Goud as its candidate but is wary of the sympathy factor for late MLA Rajeshwar Reddy’s wife, who is expected to contest as an independent candidate.
In fact, the TRS desperately sought to make her its candidate but she refused, party sources said.
In Nagarkurnool in Mahbubnagar district, the TRS will have to support former TDP MLA Nagam Janardhan Reddy, who too quit his post on the statehood demand. Nagam’s refusal to join TRS or any other party has come as a dampener to the separatist outfit.
That leaves only two out of six seats — Adilabad and Kollapur — for the TRS to fancy a chance.
“More than the numbers, the entire statehood issue will be at stake. If we lose, it will be construed as the death of the issue as such. That’s the fear haunting us,” the politburo member lamented.
Now, there is talk that the Bharatiya Janata Party is seeking to jump into the by-election fray at least in some segments to test its waters. With the Congress failing to keep its word on creation of Telangana, the BJP is projecting itself as the lone force that can make a separate state happen.
The significant response to BJP state president G Kishan Reddy’s Telangana Poru Yatra has stirred a debate in the party on the need for re-assessing its strength in the region that once formed its strong base.
Moreover, the BJP has a larger agenda on hand — of seeing its resurgence at the national level in 2014 — and hopes to make Telangana an ideal platform for the bigger battle.
BJP will obviously eat into TRS’ vote bank by playing the ‘Telangana sentiment’ card and that is what both Congress and Telugu Desam Party want to happen. Trouble began brewing for the TRS when the general strike demanding creation of Telangana state came to an abrupt end in October after paralyzing every activity in the region for 42 days.
That was the peak of the statehood agitation and the TRS was basking in its glory.
The TRS was caught on the defensive as the TDP and other pro-Telangana groups launched an onslaught accusing the former of “mortgaging the movement” for pecuniary gains.
By going into hibernation after the general strike, KCR did not help his party’s or the movement’s cause. All this may come to haunt the TRS in the ensuing by-elections, the observers say.