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Congress to fight alone in Telugu States?

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 11, 2019 Published on March 11, 2019

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao

In Telangana, it could not capitalise on its decision to grant separate statehood and was checkmated by K Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief of the Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS), who managed to win the Assembly elections and 11 MP seats.

The Congress, battered in Telangana and destroyed in Andhra Pradesh in 2014, with just two and zero out of 17 and 25 seats in the Lok Sabha, will have to fight its own battle, with the ground realities marginally changed.

The Grand Old Party has just 30 days under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi to get its cadre re-energised and prepare for a tougher battle.

The bifurcation did not go down well with the people of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and the Congress was completely wiped out: it drew a blank in the elections held for the 25 Parliamentary seats and 175 Assembly constituencies.

In Telangana, it could not capitalise on its decision to grant separate statehood and was checkmated by K Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief of the Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS), who managed to win the Assembly elections and 11 MP seats.

If, the response to the booth-level meeting held by Rahul Gandhi on Saturday is any indication, it’s quite clear that the fight has to begin from within the party. The morale of the cadre has to be boosted to take on the formidable TRS. Yet to get out of the shock defeat it suffered (despite leading a four party alliance) at the hands of KCR-led TRS in December 2018, the Congress faces an uphill task. It is sure to get candidates to contest all the 17 seats, but the confidence level is not too high at the moment.

Will it have alliances? The answer seems a ‘no’ at the moment. It will surely be a case of once bitten (it is still rankled by the drubbing it suffered as part of the Praja Front alliance with TDP, TJS and CPI) twice shy. The best scenario would be an understanding for the Khammam seat, where the TDP and the Left parties have significant presence, say experts.

With a dismal performance of bagging two seats in 2014, the Congress (I) will have to contend with the strong TRS, which is aiming to win 15-16 as its young President KT Rama Rao has been stating loud and clear. The TRS is sitting pretty with its alliance with the AIMIM led by Asadduddin Owaisi and a weak BJP, TDP and Left parties. Even, the YSR Congress, which won two seats in Telangana in 2014, will not be contesting this time and is on its side.

In Andhra Pradesh, while Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has come under attack from opposition leaders such as YS Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress, the BJP and even Pawan Kalyan of Jana Sena, the Congress’ position remains virtually unchanged from 2014.

The flop show of its alliance with the TDP in Telangana is difficult to shrug off. The party now has to fend for itself with the hope that some hard work can only improve its position from nothing. At every available opportunity, Rahul Gandhi has been saying that if voted to power, the first thing the Congress would do is grant Special Category Status to AP.

Published on March 11, 2019
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