Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are at present facing a direct battle between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress. However, Telangana has emerged as the crucible of a new political churning in South India. It is here that the template of opposition unity, with two long-time adversaries in South India, the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party coming together, has taken concrete shape ahead of the 2019 general elections and is working on the ground.
The Congress appears to have overcome its shortcomings, infighting and rancour and managed to work together on the ground with its enemy – TDP that took birth in united Andhra Pradesh on anti-Congressism – and has given a run for its money to the ruling TRS.
Till three months ago, it appeared that there was no challenger in sight for the king of all he surveyed in Telangana, its chief minister and the chief of Telangana Rashtra Samithi. It was perhaps his over-confidence or strong advice from his pet astrologers that he dissolved the assembly nine months and advanced polls. At that time, he wanted to deny time to parties in opposition to gang up against him. But precisely the opposite happened. His action became the catalyst for the coming together of the Congress and the TDP and two other smaller forces – the CPI and the Telangana Jana Samithi that on paper appear to be formidable. Today in Telangana, no one, including KCR, can say with any conviction that he will be back.
Already, the alliance (Mahakootami or Praja kootami) has put the fear of defeat in the chief minister and his party. In an election rally the other day, KCR said that a defeat would not matter to him as he would go back to agriculture. It is you (voters) who will suffer if you support the Congress and the TDP, the chief minister told an election meeting. But his warning exposes his inner apprehension that he may well end up on the losing side. But situation on the ground does not appear to be as hopeless for KCR as his adversaries make it out to be. He still enjoys an advantage because of his people welfare schemes and absence of a CM candidate from the opposition party.
But to the extent of taking the fight to the ruling party camp, the Praja Kootami has shown that it is more than capable of and that it was working on the ground. Even the cadres of the four opposition parties have realised that if they don’t, then another five years of wilderness was guaranteed.