POLITICS OF DIVISION - WHO MAY BENEFIT
The battle of ballot in Telangana region of AP, in all likelihood attaining the status of a separate state from 2nd of June, throws up interesting possibilities. It is a test case for psephologists who depend on sampling and correlate the results with the pattern of voting in previous elections. For, trends in previous elections here do not give an exact picture of what may happen on 30th April.
Previous elections, more so, by-elections were fought on more of an emotional platform, with separate state demand high on agenda of political parties and people too emotionally driven by the craving. But, there is a saying
"जो खुशि इन्तेजार मै है ओ मिलन मै नही!'
The pleasure of waiting is more pleasant than the pleasure of getting. In the natural course, people tend to forget about the struggle for the state and try to pitch themselves in the right spot at the right moment to grow and help the state grow. Hence, the percentage of 'emotional vote' tends to reduce. This is one factor.
Congress, facing decimation in polls pan India, gambled with the division of state at the last moment, eyeing at least 16 out of 17 seats in the polls in alliance with or merger of TRS. It chewed more than it can swallow, by losing out totally in the other 25 seats of the state. Its calculations went wrong on two counts. First was its gross miscalculation that BJP and TDP would not allow it to pass the bill, come what may, for fear of losing out in Seema Andhra. But both the parties played their dice well so as to see that they lose much neither side. Second was miscalculation of KCR's moves.
The maverick KCR, while keeping Congress in good spirits, kept his options open. One was his bargain for CM post and plum posts for his family. Congress could not afford CM post as that would have led to large scale desertions from the party in Telangana too. The second option was to ally with BJP, which was scuttled successfully by the TDP boss playing cards close to his chest. This is a second factor that influences the poll result.
The resultant effect is the triangular contest in the region. Congress was very strong in the region followed by TDP and then TRS. But with the struggle reaching a crescendo, TRS picked up fast at the cost of both Congress and TDP. BJP on its part remained pro-separation all the years and improved vote share marginally. It would have been a one way fight, had TRS and Congress allied. It would have still been a split between these two parties of votes and seats, had the leaders of both parties not entered into the nastiest war of words forgetting their common adversary, NDA that picked up fast post alliance. The diatribe between these two strong protagonists of separate state reached such levels that NDA leaders are able to talk more of development and social justice and less of TRS and Congress.
Congress, having lost the first round is arraying a line of national leaders to drive home the point that TRS had no role play in the division of state. TRS, on its part, is trying to scuttle the Congress game plan by talking about the past struggle and placing itself as champions of Telangana. BJP is trying to drive home the point that if they have not helped in passing the bill the division would have halted in the tracks. TDP, tactically, is trying not to talk of the past but about the future.
So, what happens now? The largest block of vote is pro-Telangana vote that is getting split between Congress and TRS, BJP too taking a minor chunk. With anti incumbency haunting Congress everywhere, it is TRS that gains much of this. With Modi wave sweeping across, part of the anti incumbency vote of Congress shifts to NDA. TDP has strong cadre base and its core vote remains intact, though it may not gain much post split.
With three strong contenders for vote in the fray, in all likelihood the vote split will throw up a hung assembly in the region. But, with all its Machiavellian tactics, Congress is going to be the biggest loser. TRS will be the biggest gainer as people perceive it as their own party and all others outsiders. NDA will be in the reckoning in as far as Modi wave and the split vote between Congress and TRS helps it. Added to this there is vote share of settlers in many constituencies that might go one way or other and not certainly the Congress way as this group perceives the party as villain of a piece.
In all likelihood, it will be a hung assembly with TRS well ahead of others and a bout of uncertainty is to follow given the ambitions of Congressmen to upstage TRS. In the LS polls, it may be a three way split almost equally between the three parties, given the national perspective and some strong candidates of NDA too.