As Telangana Assembly election day nears, there is a spring in steps of the Congress and its alliance partners who think they are within striking distance of power in the state. Indications from the ground point to a keenly fought contest with strong anti-incumbency and disenchantment among the different pressure groups and communities giving the opposition grouping – Mahakootami (grand alliance) – a realistic chance of making it in the 119-member house.
Most significant and powerful among the communities that helped Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhar Rao during the Telangana struggle of 2013 and 2014 was the student community, with its headquarters in Osmania University.
Today the same university and student leaders, who had "great expectations from KCR", deeply disappointed with his failed promises, have sworn to “oust KCR at all costs.”
Youth and student community is today very cut up with KCR, who they allege has only worked for his family and did nothing else. Several student bodies have expressed support to the Congress-led Mahakootami comprising Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Jana Samithi and CPI.
Among them is the Osmania University Joint Action Committee that played a key role in the agitation for a separate Telangana state, which declared that it will support Mahakootami.
It is not just the students. The JACs of other professionals – government employees, bankers, lawyers, teachers, lecturers – too are opposing KCR and have vowed to defeat the family rule perpetuated by the TRS chief.
Now, the biggest fear among the new supporters of the Congress is whether the coalition will work on the ground. If it does, even KCR is not safe in his constituency of Gajwel, where he won the seat with a margin of some 19,000 votes in 2014. Even then the combined votes of the Congress and TDP candidates was more than KCR’s votes. But for sure, the outcome will depend on the chemistry between the alliance partners and their cadres. The arithmetic, the Congress leaders hope will overcome the There IS No Alternative (TINA) factor that KCR’ strategists keep harping on.
The Congress has in the last two months managed to tap into the anger among the people across the state for various reasons. The main grouse of people is that Andhrites still manage to get jobs and assignments that many in the tribal-dominated Telangana do not even hear about.
Actually, in many places in the state, the ruling party candidates and leaders were not allowed to enter to canvass for votes, indicating the disenchantment and anger among the people. But still the TRS is a very potent force and has the financial muscle to make the contest a very keen one.
It will be a touch and go affair with fifty-fifty chances for the ruling TRS and the Congress-led opposition, something that was not considered possible few weeks ago. But the TRS banks on the charisma of KCR as its USP, which could tilt the battle in its favour. Which is why the TRS campaign focuses on the many welfare schemes that touch the lives of many people in its campaign. With just three weeks left for the polling on December 7, campaigning is picking up and KCR has plans for a publicity blitzkrieg and whirlwind tour across the state.
For the first time after he became the face of the Telangana struggle and later the first chief minister, KCR faces a real challenge in the battle that can unseat him.