Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
Daggubati family has always been in the anti Chandrababu camp. Their opposition to Naidu ultimately brought them closer to YS Jagan Mohan Reddy .
In a desperate attempt to find a political opportunity, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao escorted his son Hitesh, the debutant in politics to the YSR Congress supremo. Thus, Hitesh perhaps would take on Lokesh as the political fight within the family gets into the next generation.
This fight is not new to telugu people. Purandeswari joined the congress, the party which her father bitterly opposed. The Congress led by YS Rajasekhara Reddy provided Purandeswari, the daughter of NTR, political asylum. The opposition to Chandrababu Naidu was the common cause for both Purandeswari and Congress unite.
As the Congress lost the political steam post bifurcation, Purandeswari looked towards BJP. Daggubati family’s political journey always had two dimensions. Firstly, to find a political opportunity as TDP led by Chandrababu Naidu turned out to be unpalatable. The second objective is to oppose their arch rival , Chandrababu Naidu to the extent possible. With Hari Krishna surrendering to Naidu and his subsequent demise, Balakrishna becoming TDP MLA after Naidu struck a marital relationship, Purandeswari had no support from the NTR’s family to take on Chandrababu Naidu.
Both, YS Rajasekhara Reddy and now YS Jaganmohan Reddy found in NTR’s kith and kin a right choice to confront Naidu. But, the history proved that they could not become indispensable in anti Naidu fight.
YS Jagan makes yet another bid to use NTR’s family members in the fight against Naidu.
The history is replete with examples to reveal that if one gets control over the party, the other family members cannot make any difference if they join some other party. Maneka Gandhi and her son joined BJP. But, they could not in any way specially contribute to the saffron party’s crusade against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and now even Priyanka Gandhi.
Shiva Pal Yadav and for that matter even Mulayam Singh Yadav could not prevent Akhilesh Yadav in taking over the reigns of Samajwadi party (SP). MG Ramachandran’s wife had to give way to Jayalalithaa. The fight between close cousins led to the split of Shiv Sena. But, Shiv Sena continues to be a significant political force in Maharashtra, though it lost some of its shine . This erosion cannot be totally attributed to the family feud within the party .
Thus, the history of TDP and the experience in other states only indicate that Daggubati will not have anything more than symbolic value in Jagan’s fight with Chandrababu Naidu .
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )
The resignation of Vangaveeti Radhakrishna from the YSR Congress has not only shaken the politics of Vijayawada but is expected to have an impact elsewhere in the coastal districts that still have a significant number of Ranga followers.
The first question is why did Radha resign from YSR Congress? The opposition party was quick to dismiss it as Naidu’s tricky politics. The YSR congress leaders also lamented that Radha fell prey to the machinations of Chandrababu Naidu. But, the sources within the party tell a different story. Radha claims Jagan has insulted him. YS Jagan has shifted Vangaveeti Radha from Vijayawada central to Vijayawada East Assembly constituency much to the discomfiture of this young leader. In fact, Yalamanchali Ravi, was made in-charge of YSR Congress Vijayawada East on the suggestion of Radha only. Thus, Vangaveeti Radha could not reconcile to this change. Party insiders tell that the personality of YS Jagan and V Radha do not match making their unity near impossible. Thus , the ego clash between two leaders is cited as the reason for Radha’s exit.
Meanwhile, YSR congress sources also accuse Radha of unilateral functioning within the party to which is obviously unpalatable to a leader like YS Jagan.
Then the second question is why did Radha indicate that he may join TDP. In fact, Radha is yet to make any formal announcement to this effect. However, his utterances in the press conference clearly indicate a shift towards TDP. Estranged from YSR Congress, Radha has few options left for his political career. He cannot join the Congress whose revival is impossible at least for 2019 . The Jana Sena has not shown any inclination to attract Radha and the latter too has not evinced much interest to join Pawan Kalyan. Sources close to Radha opine that there will be similar ego clash if Radha joins Jana Sena too. Meanwhile, Radha’s camp is also unsure of electoral chances for the Jana Sena party. Pawan Kalyan has already announced that he would have an alliance with the left parties. The CPI(M) will claim the Vijayawada central as it contested from this constituency in the past. Thus, Radha has no option except embracing the TDP.
But, why did he delay the announcement of his entry into TDP. The supporters of Radha and his electorate are certainly uncomfortable at the news that their leader will join the TDP . It is widely believed and even Radha has earlier alleged that the TDP is responsible for the murder of his father Vangaveeti Ranga . The Kamma- Kapu conflict has thrown up Ranga as the leader and Radha still inherits that legacy. Thus, the TDP owned by the Kamma an unnatural ally of Radha given the social base he represents. Thus, Radha is now busy managing this dissent. Radha in a surprise development clarified that his earlier criticism on TDP was wrong. Not the party, but few leaders are responsible for the death of my father, Radha maintained much to the annoyance of many of followers of Ranga, especially those who are critical of TDP . He has also appealed for house sites for poor in Vijayawada and probably the government of Chandrababu Naidu would accept this demand paving the way for the entry of Vangaveeti Radha into TDP.
The other question why is Chandra Babu Naidu so keen on inducting Radha into TDP fold despite no dearth of leaders within his party?
This is part of a serious effort t by Chandrababu Naidu to retain the crucial Kapu vote in 2019 polls. The Kapus are traditionally anti TDP. They have first time voted in large number to TDP when NT Rama Rao floated the party. In 2014 , several factors helped TDP to get Kapu vote which remains decisive in as many as 30 seats especially in its strongholds in two Godavari districts.
The bifurcation of state against the wishes of people of Seemandhra region made Congress totally unpopular . Kapus who traditionally voted largely for Congress were in disarray. The abortive Praja rajyam experiment has also annoyed them . Meanwhile, the post bifurcation narrative and Pawan Kalyan’s support helped TDP to rally Kapu vote to a great extent in 2014 playing a defining role in 2014 mandate. Besides, several promises along with quota for Kapus also contributed to this shift. But, Naidu is seriously worried over the erosion of Kapu vote especially after Pawan Kalyan became his foe.
He is now an mission to retain Kapu vote. This is the reason he is promising five percent reservations for kapus within 10 percent quota for Economically Weaker Sections. Sending friendly overtures to Pawan Kalyan in the recent past is also part of this political plan. Now, invitation to Radha fits into this electoral strategy of TDP for 2019.
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )
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United India rally more to do with Mamata Banerjee’s PM ambitions than catapulting non-BJP front at Centre
The Congress top leadership is conspicuous by their absence at the United India rally in Kolkata. Mayawati sends her representative, as well, and KCR remained aloof despite his ‘federal’ overtures to the Trinamool Congress chief. Naveen Patnaik is unconcerned with the mega Opposition rally in his neighbouring state in the name of being ‘equidistant from the BJP and Congress’. The CPM cannot obviously be part of Mamata’s show as it is still the bitter rival, and YS Jaganmohan Reddy is not even invited as his main opponent Chandrababu Naidu steals the show, at least from the south.
Thus, the Kolkata rally is more to do with Mamata Banerjee’s prime ministerial ambitions rather than catapulting the non-BJP regime at the Centre. Besides, her aversion towards the BJP is a result of the saffron surge in West Bengal subsequent to the steep decline of the left.
Most Opposition parties agreed to dislodge the Narendra Modi-led BJP for reasons specific to them. However, the chinks in the Opposition camp come to the fore on the question of the whether the Congress would lead such a national coalition.
When the DMK chief pitched Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate, the Trinamool chief was not too keen on endorsing the proposal. She said that this can be discussed only after the 2019 polls. The West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats, and she is expecting a win in at least 40, improving her 2014 tally . If she can do so, which is highly likely, the Trinamool Congress will have largest number of Lok Sabha seats than any regional party, next only to the Congress in the non-BJP camp.
The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) decided to contest 38 seats each. No other regional party will contest in 40 seats, leave alone winning such a number of seats. This is the empirical basis for Mamata Banerjee’s prime ministerial ambitions.
The possible contenders from the regional camp are Mayawati and Naidu. But with the BSP loosing much of its shine and Naidu’s clout reduced due to bifurcation and possible anti-incumbency, Mamata remains the potential nominee for the highest post. Therefore, she is keen on capitalising the reservations some parties have towards the Congress leading the anti-BJP camp post 2019 . The massive mobilisation she resorted to in Kolkata was to show her strength rather than the antipathy towards the saffron brigade.
Furthermore, the manner in which she has been treating the Congress in her own state is believed to be the reason for the Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s absence at the rally. This is why regional parties like the Trinamool Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are interested in allying with the Congress in Delhi rather than Kolkata or Amaravati. In the wake of the humiliating defeat of the People’s Front in the Telangana Assembly elections, the TDP and the Congress are sceptical of forging an alliance at the state level again.
The Samajwadi Party and BSP, who have already finalised their seat-sharing formula leaving the Congress out, expressed similar apprehensions. Yet they are not averse to join hands with the Congress if the post-poll arithmetic demands. The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) support to the SP-BSP combine despite the absence of the Congress indicates an unease in the Bihar mahagatbandhan. It is very clear that the regional parties in whose domain the Congress is a weak force do not wish to fight the elections under Rahls’ leadership. This is for two reasons: The SP or BSP do not want to give Congress a chance to revive itself in their home state, and they are not sure of being able to stall the Modi juggernaut if they fight under the leadership of the Congress and Rahul.
Of course, most of these regional and smaller parties have earlier been part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The TMC, TDP, Asom Gana Parishad, etc, are a few such examples. By rallying behind the Congress in the pre-poll arena, they, perhaps, would not want to foreclose the option of joining the BJP bandwagon if the post-poll arithmetic so warrants. The ideological pusillanimity of these regional parties validate such an interpretation.
Then there are other parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), YSR Congress, AIADMK, etc. There are party-specific reasons for their absence at the Kolkata show. The AIADMK transformed into a proxy of the BJP after the demise of its leader, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa; The presence of the TDP makes the YSR Congress an outsider to any such opposition conglomeration; the Congress being the main opponent for both the TRS and BJD in Odisha, the anti-BJP and anti-Congress slogan perfectly fits into their political narrative. That’s why KCR was absent also at the Bengaluru Opposition meet marking the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. Parties like TRS, YSR Congress and BJD, which now talk about a ‘federal front’ are more opposed to the Congress than the BJP, indicating how qualitatively different they are from the political perception of parties like the TMC , TDP, SP or BSP.
Therefore, the grand gala show at best is likely to end up as yet another photo opportunity for those who are critical of Modi for their own specific reasons than a common cause. The devil, in fact, lies in the details of arriving at workable anti-BJP arrangements at the state level, driven by both the electoral arithmetic and political chemistry of that region.
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )
There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. The visuals are still afresh. The TRS and the activists of Telangana movement held a massive resistance to Jagan’s tour of Mahabubabad as part of his Odarpu yatra to console the families who lost their loved once after the sudden demise of YS Rajasekhara Reddy. The TRS called Jagan a traitor and an enemy of Telangana . YS Rajasekhara Reddy who was the stumbling block to the formation of Telangana separate state pooh-poohed TRS MLAs. He has even engineered splits in TRS to weaken the movement for a separate state.
But, all this is part of history now. The TRS and YSR Congress are new friends as their common enemy is N Chandrababu Naidu. Obviously, KCR is the darling of all those who want to defeat Naidu.
But, why is KCR so keen on roping in YS Jagan into his federal front which is still amorphous.
Everyone refers to KCR’s famous comment of giving return gift. It is true.KCR is certainly keen on teaching a lesson to Chandrababu Naidu for teaming up with Congress to defeat him in Telangana. The TDP-Congress alliance though lost the polls miserably gave sleepless nights to TRS leadership and KCR is interested to strike a revenge.
However, politics is not just an ego clash between two leaders. Politics is more substantive than emotive.
In the recently concluded assembly elections where KCR received landslide, the TRS secured lead in 14 of the 17 Loksabha segments. Hyderabad is the MIM’s fortress. The Congress led people’s front could get a marginal lead over TRS in Khammam and the adjoining Mahabubabad Lok Sabha segments. KCR might have dismissed it as a self goal. The internal rumblings within the ruling party haves certainly cost dearer for TRS. Still, KCR is conscious of the fact that the undivided Khammam district has always been a difficult terrene. Together with Hyderabad, Khammam was not so enthusiastic during the Telangana movement too.
Precisely here in Khammam , the YSR Congress won a MP and three MLA seats in 2014 elections. However, as these leaders defected to TRS, the YSR congress got weakened and ultimately Jagan decided to not to contest in Telangana much to the delight of TRS.
KCR is conscious of the fact that YS Jagan enjoys considerable support among the Seemandhra electorate residing in Telangana state.KCR expects that the new found bonhomie between TRS and YSR Congress would yield dividend for the pink party in 2019 Loksabha elections.
Telangana has 17 seats in Lok Sabha . The party is expected to win at least 15 seats if assembly elections voting pattern repeats in Lok Sabha elections too. But still, TRS is a smaller force compared to other regional players like SP, TMC, BJD etc. Together with Jagan, KCR can show the support of a significant number of MPs ,as this will be a major bargaining chip for the Federal Front in the wake of a fractured verdict in New Delhi.
The TRS and the YSR Congress have something in Common besides hostility towards TDP . Both these parties are more opposed to Congress than BJP, fuelling speculation that Modi-Shah duo are behind this new found love between KCR and YS Jagan.
Thus, KCR has nothing to lose, but has everything to gain by allying with YS Jagan, especially after reaping such a massive harvest in recently held Assembly elections.
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Narendra Modi’s new quota formula might have passed the political test with almost all the opposition parties falling in line in an election year despite grumbling on the timing of the act. But, with PIL filed in the apex court, the law enacting the reservations for economically weaker sections has to pass the judicial test.
The constitutional amendment faces three specific judicial vulnerabilities.
Firstly, the Apex court in Indira Sawhney case said, solely the economic criteria does not fit into the ‘doctrine of reasonable’ classification for providing reservations. The Supreme Court in this historical verdict considered as the Magna Carta of the reservations jurisprudence clearly stated in Para 689 ,”… any reservation or affirmative action on economic criteria or wealth discrimination cannot be upheld under doctrine of reasonable classification. Reservation for backward class seeks to achieve the social purpose of sharing in services which had been monopolised by few of the forward classes. To bridge the gap, thus, created the affirmative action’s have been upheld as the social and educational difference between the two classes furnished reasonable basis for classification. Same cannot be said for rich and poor. A classification based on economic conditions for purposes of Article 16(1) would be violative of equality doctrine”. Thus the apex court has drawn a clear distinction between social and economic backwardness. Thus, the reading of Indian jurisprudence gives an impression that the highest court of the land has been stating that economic backwardness can be a ground for exclusion, but not for inclusion as far as affirmative action like reservations is concerned.
Secondly, the apex court in the same verdict observed that reservations being an extreme form of protective affirmative action, should be within the minority and quotas in any manner should be within fifty percent. This principle of balancing equality has been upheld in several of the judgments during the course of five decades of India’s jurisprudence. The Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney said that the principle of balancing equality ordains reservation, of any manner, not to exceed 50%. Still, the leaders of ruling party and the government have been arguing that the 50 percent limit enforced by the apex court is valid only to caste based reservations . The Supreme Court in MR Balaji, Indira Sawhney , Ram Singh etc., has been stating that the 50 percent limit is not a quantitative restriction but integral to the concept of right to equality which again form the basic structure of the constitution. Even the Parliament cannot amend the basic structure as per the Kesavananda Bharati case.
Thirdly, the reservations under article 16(4) of the constitution should qualify the test of not ‘adequately represented’ .
The exercise of power to reserve is coupled with duty to determine backward class of citizens and if they were adequately represented. If the Government failed to discharge its duty then the exercise of power stands vitiated. This is what the Supreme Court stated in the Indira Sawhney case (Para 695 ). Thus it is a constitutional obligation on the part of the State to first ascertain that a group of people in this case what the new law calls economically weaker sections are not adequately represented in educational and employment before reserving 10 percent seats.
If the Supreme Court gives a fresh reading on these questions , the government can get the credit for helping the poor among upper castes . In case the apex court sticks to its long held position, still the government reaps political dividend claiming that it was honest in helping them and the courts did not allow. But, in the latter’s case, the loser will be the poor who have not been getting any reservation benefits so far. Instead, the government should have done a detailed exercise before enacting this constitutional amendment. The political expediency seems to be the overriding factor.
KCR is yet again pitching for a federal front comprising of non-congress, non-BJP parties in the run up to 2019 elections. He began hectic parleys with leaders of several regional and smaller parties to garner support for his idea of such a federal front.
There is always a space for an alternative to the Congress and BJP in Indian political space given the fact that the two national parties have been getting around fifty percent of votes and seats. Thus ,half of India’s political spectrum is filled with smaller and regional parties. In fact both the BJP and Congress are junior partners to their regional allies in many states like Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab etc,. In fact both congress and BJP have little or no stakes in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.
However, the idea of such a federal front is beset with several problems like the lack of a cohesive leadership and concrete agenda, and the vacillating character of these regional parties. Meanwhile, sceptics see a political strategy in KCR’s newfound enthusiasm to rally non-Congress, non-BJP parties, given the fact that he has been avidly supporting the Modi dispensation all these years.
In 2009, the Congress fared well, while the BJP performed well in 2014, suggesting a revival of national parties. Yet, regional and smaller parties still hold sway in large parts of India.
Several questions still remain on the feasibility of such an idea, given the experience of many such attempts in the past like United Front and National Front.
Regional parties could thrive in a national coalition only when there is a major national party heading such a coalition. The experience of the UPA and the NDA are illustrations to offer. Otherwise, there should at least be a strong player within such an alternative front to anchor the coalition. The Left during its heyday could play this role. But with the massive erosion of the Left’s political clout and electoral strength, they can no longer inspire the formation of any such alternate alliance at the national level. Precisely for this reason the left is not enthusiastic for any such united front or national front like experiments which they avidly promoted in 1980s and 1990s.
Meanwhile, regional parties always displayed a pusillanimous character and tended to vacillate between either of the national parties. The TRS, the Dravidian parties, RJD, TMC, SP, BSP, TDP, etc. were either part of the UPA or NDA or even the both the alliances at different points of time in India’s contemporary political history. They displayed a similar lack of consistency in taking positions concerning these national parties. For instance, even KCR zealously supported the Modi dispensation’s controversial policies like demonetisation and GST.
The so-called federal front has a plethora of leaders, each nursing prime ministerial ambitions. The elevation of leaders like Deve Gowda and IK Gujral to the highest executive office in Indian democracy, despite a minimal presence of their party, further rationalises the ambitions of these regional satraps.
Besides, many of the regional parties which could constitute a federal front are contenders for power in their respective states. For instance, the TDP and YSR Congress compete for power in Andhra Pradesh, relegating both the national parties to the backseat. Similarly, the AIADMK, DMK and the new entrants in Tamil politics compete with each other at the state level for political space. Thus, these parties cannot be together in any national coalition. One of them can join such a coalition, with the other party shifting towards one or the other national party, depending upon the local political context and the national political arithmetic.
The abortive experiments of the United Front and National Front stand testimony to all the weaknesses discussed above.
Nevertheless, strong federal aspirations can bring them together. But many regional parties surrendered their tax autonomy to arrive at a consensus on GST. This indicates the Centre’s capacity to manoeuvre vis a vis these regional political formations. Yet, radically restructuring Centre-state relations, especially fiscal federalism, remains a strong point of unity among regional parties. In fact, KCR was shrewd enough to raise such federal concerns as a justification for launching such a third front. He argued that the Centre’s role should be confined only to external affairs, defence, national highways etc. Such voices of dissent are nothing new. Political parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal and Telugu Desam have earlier evinced such strong sentiments in the past, only to reconcile with the truncated federal polity of India.
KCR perceives Modi’s popularity sliding across the nation. The results of assembly elections in three states stand testimony to the declining influence of Modi and BJP. Thus the ascent of the Congress would harm TRS in state politics , as the former is its principal adversary. The state Congress is already running a campaign claiming that the TRS is an extension of the BJP. The TRS chief may be eager to shed the negative image of being a non-NDA ally of BJP especially at a time when 2019 Lok Sabha polls would be fought around Modi narrative. Pitching himself firmly in the national political context would help him to successfully challenge the Congress in the state.
Speculation is rife in the political circle that the TRS is acting at the behest of the Modi-Shah duo. The BJP is concerned about its electoral reverses in the recent Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The BJP’s tally has been significantly contained in Gujarat too, though the saffron brigade retained power.
Such gains for the Congress could result in regional parties gravitating towards the Congress. The BJP, in a bid to thwart this possibility, is allegedly operating through parties like the TRS. It is extremely difficult to either validate or reject such formulations.
However, only the post 2019 actions of KCR and other regional parties can provide any conclusive understanding of the purpose and intent of the federal front.
Riding on the popular mandate it received in the assembly elections, the TRS hopes to play a key role post 2019. KCR is expected to enter national politics if he manages to win sizable MP seats. He is already on a national political pilgrimage to rally as many regional and smaller parties as possible behind his idea of non-congress, non-BJP political platform.
An analysis of the voting patterns in the assembly elections indicate that TRS is expected to win 14 out of the 17 seats while its ally MIM can retain the lone Hyderabad seat it won in 2014. The congress-TDP alliance will find it hard to win the remaining two seats as it won only marginally higher votes than TRS within these parliamentary segments . These two seats are Khammam and Mahabubabad where the congress led people’s front polled marginally higher number of votes than TRS.
But, there are many intervening factors that differentiate mandate in assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The parliament elections will be five months after the assembly elections, which is a too longer period given the experience of BJP,AAP in Delhi politics.
While the assembly elections were a sort of referendum on KCR, the Lok Sabha elections narrative will be around Modi. Precisely for this reason KCR resorted to premature dissolution of state assembly paving the way for early elections. The strategy has yielded rich dividend for KCR.
The TRS has got an edge over its nearest rival in 14 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in recent assembly elections. The TRS margin is substantially higher ranging from one to three lakhs. Even if one discounts the factors that distinguish Lok Sabha elctions form assembly elections, yet , the TRS is expected to register a win in most of the seats, if not all, where it got an edge.
On the contrary, the congress led opposition combine comprising of TDP, TJS, CPI got only few thousands of votes more than TRS in the two seats- Khammam and Mahabubabad where it got an edge. As a result there can be many a slip between the cup and the lip for the congress.
Meanwhile, the TRS has already started its political manoeuvring in the undivided Khammam district which covers the above two parliament segments. The ruling party is all set to induct opposition MLAs from this region into its fold and one of them is expected to be made even a minister. This operation Aakarsh would render TDP unrepresented in the state assembly though it won two seats in the recent elections.
Besides, the four party opposition alliance is at the cross roads. The possibility of keeping the kutami intact for the Lok Sabha elections remains a challenge as both of its allies TDP and CPI would demand Khammam where the congress has some hope of winning. The TDP which got decimated in the assembly elections could demonstrate some popularity within the Khammam Lok Sabha segment only. The CPI in alliance with the congress contested Khammam Lok Sabha seat in 2014 where YSR congress candidate won, who later defected to TRS. The YSR Congress has already announced its intentions to not to contest in Telangana. Thus, the congress and its allies would find seat sharing a challenging task. Thus, is the advantage for TRS in Lok Sabha polls too.
However, the challenge for TRS is in defending its position vis-a-vis BJP and Narendra Modi in national politics.
Political parties and pundits alike are busy interpreting the Telangana mandate 2018. While the TRS claims it to be a pro incumbency vote, the opposition congress finds many an alibi for its defeat ranging from tampering of EVMs to negative perception generated by the dominating role of Chandrababu Naidu in the electoral campaign. But, what does the mandate really mean?
The TRS won 88 seats and polled 46.9 percent votes which is a massive increase of over 12 percent as compared to 2014 . This shows a clear positive vote for KCR whose regime suffered no universal discontent . A slew of welfare schemes helped to build a strong vote bank among the poor and women voters. The increased participation of rural voters especially the women and elderly defined the mandate 2018, indicating the popularity of his schemes. In fact, many of TRS MLA’s who were re-nominated were incurring the anti incumbency. But, the popular ratings enjoyed by KCR could nullify the adversity .
The welfare schemes initiated by KCR like the cash support of RS. 8000 per acre per year, Rs. five lakh insurance, cash assistance of over one lakh for the girl child in BPL families at the time of marriage , pensions for the elderly, widows, beedi workers, and differently abled etc. have created a pro incumbency for TRS . The discontent was sporadic and confined to few sections like the educated unemployed . The results indicate that the TRS could muster support across caste, religion and regional divide, thanks to its populist schemes. In 2014, the TRS victory was more or less confined to North Telangana . But in 2018, barring the undivided Khammam district bordering Andhra Pradesh, the TRS swept the polls across the state.
Though it lost the polls very badly, the Congress could increase its voting tally from 25.2 percent in 2014 to 28.4 percent in 2018. Given the fact that it left about 20 seats to its allies indicate that the Congress voting tally would have been much higher as the party contested on its own in 2014 . This clearly indicates that the Congress as such improved its position , but the four party alliance which it forged, failed to deliver for a host of reasons.
The congress had an understanding with Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP and the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) led by Prof. Kodandaram, chairman of Telangana Joint Action Committee(TJAC) that spearheaded the movement for separate state, and the CPI . But, the electoral arithmetic did not work for the benefit of Congress. The TDP suffered huge erosion post bifurcation especially due to the defection of its leaders to TRS or congress. The post bifurcation narrative was in-congenial for the growth and survival of TDP in Telangana . The TDP is a ruling party in Andhra Pradesh with which Telangana has serious differences . The party is led by the Chief Minister of the neighbouring state.
This turned out into a big embarrassment for Congress, as TRS made this alliance with TDP the main political plank. KCR cleverly and successfully painted the contest as the fight with Chandrababu Naidu. This triggered Telangana sentiment much to the advantage of TRS. The sharp fall in TDP voting did not deliver the expected favourable electoral arithmetic for the Congress . The TDP voting plummeted to 3.5 percent from 14.7 percent.
The TJS was a non starter and the CPI was a negligible player. Thus, the people’s Front forged by the Congress failed to provide the much needed electoral muscle for the grand old party .
The united Andhra Pradesh was critical in catapulting Congress led UPA to power both in 2004 and 2009 . In a sharp contrast, the Congress failed to wrest Telangana even as it trounced the BJP in its strongholds in North India.
KCR ‘s strategy of premature dissolution of state Assembly has certainly yielded rich electoral dividend. Fearing a political polarisation for and against Narendra Modi in which Congress can be on an advantageous ground, KCR went for early polls . The TRS which supported the idea of simultaneous elections for state assemblies and Parliament thus ended up delinking the two for political reasons . However, the electorate endorsed KCR’s stand.
The absence of even a single woman minister in KCR’s cabinet, non representation to the two major dalit groups, Madiga and Mala in state cabinet, stifling of democratic dissent which even the High Court has found fault with, the allegations of unprecedented escalation in the cost of irrigation projects indicating large scale politician-contractor nexus etc. failed to win away the voter from TRS as such issues remained the concerns of urban middle classes who were Luke warm to electoral participation.
The sad part of the story is that state witnessed unprecedented display of money power which does not augur well for the democratic process in the new state formed after decades of struggle and hope.
What was implicit all these years is now explicit. With the elevation of K T Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister, K Chandrashekhar Rao as the working President of the ruling TRS immediately after the Assembly elections, the process of succession in the TRS is now consummated.
Now that it is formal, the speculation is rife over the political future of KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao.
Though there was no open fight between KTR and Harish Rao, it has been a spicy political aspect in the state not just in the ruling party but even in the society at large. The opposition has even tried to politically exploit this competition for KCR’s legacy within the TRS to its advantage. More recently, in the thick and thin of election campaign, Congress working President, Revanth Reddy and the TDP leader, Revuri Prakash Reddy refered to the alleged political isolation of T Harish Rao ever since the efforts to anoint KTR has begun with greater pace. However, the shrewd politician in T Harish Rao was more than cautious to not to give any impression of his disappointment.
At one point of time, there was even speculation that in the wake of a hung Assembly, Harish Rao would lead a revolt in the ruling TRS to join hands with opposition to frustrate the efforts of his uncle and the TRS president, KCR to hand over the mantle of leadership to his son KTR.
To be fair Harish Rao and KTR, the duo left no stone unturned to send a message that they are together under the leadership of KCR. In fact, frustrated by the growing reports of his disenchantment with the way things are turning out in TRS, Harish Rao in a television interview said that he has no problem to work under the leadership of his cousin, KT Rama Rao. But, such a talk is quite common in politics till something unprecedented and unusual turn takes place, opined political observers and rival party leaders alike.
T Harish Rao was known for his political proximity with his maternal uncle much before K T Rama Rao plunged in politics. Harish was made a minister by KCR even when he was not a legislator. This was the time when the TRS joined the Congress led governments both in the state and the centre in 2004.
T Harish Rao with his powerful political skills earned the reputation as the trouble shooter within the TRS and was KCR’s first choice to execute even difficult political tasks delegated to him. His electoral career is also highly impressive as he breaks his own records in every election. This time too he won the Assembly elections with over one lakh majority which even KCR or KTR could not secure. Within the KCR cabinet, he was given the all important portfolio of irrigation and proved to be quite effective in his ministerial responsibilities.
Thus, KCR never undermined Harish Rao’s role within the party or government. Everything went well till the question of who will succeed KCR came to the fore. With KCR repeatedly expressing his willingness to enter national politics, resolving this question became much more urgent. Only in the recent past things were quite apparent that all is not well within TRS especially when it comes to the role of T Harish Rao.
K T Rama Rao started playing more important role ever since KCR assumed the Chief Minister’s throne. The priority given to KTR is evident both for the bureaucracy and the party. There were reports of Harish Rao’s role curtailed within the party affairs. Unlike in the past KTR was given important political responsibility of election management. KTR single handedly led the TRS to a landslide victory in the elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) which is considered to be a complex task. KTR surpassed all expectations by delivering more than expected result to the party, his father and the state as a whole. In the recently concluded Assembly elections, KTR played much more important role as compared to Harish Rao in selection of candidates, campaigning and even in pacifying the rebels. Harish Rao was also brought in as a star campaigner along with KCR and KTR only after opposition started taking advantage of the affairs of TRS. Harish Rao not only was in the forefront of the campaign and attack on opposition but worked hard to dispel any notions of he being sidelined.
But, with the appointment of KTR, the cat is out of the bag. Harish Rao has to reconcile with the political reality that his cousin and Chief Minister’s son would be the heir apparent whatever may be his seniority and political acumen.
The manner in which KCR installed his son leaves little manoeuvrable scope for Harish Rao at least for now. KCR perfectly chose the timing to declare to the world that his son will succeed him. The leadership is much more invincible. KTR has proved his mettle many times. He will be asked to do so yet again in the Loksabha elections in his capacity as working president of the party before assuming the role of Chief Minister after his father makes a foray into national politics.
Thus, T Harish Rao has to reconcile to the reality of India politics that son succeeds. Given his abilities nothing could marginalise him in TRS as long he reconciles to the reality and decides to work under KTR.
Secondly, he can also move to national politics to assist his uncle. But, KCR ‘s daughter is already in Parliament and is known for articulation both in English and Hindi which is key qualification in national politics.
Otherwise, T Harish Rao has to wait for a political opportunity to prove his indispensability only when and if any such opportunity knocks his door. Finally, the risky option of floating yet another regional outfit or joining some other party to lead an open revolt on his uncle. But, nothing of that sort seems to be imminent at least for now.
For More Insights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB0rdQTtGkY
Chandrababu Naidu , the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, became a cynosure of Telangana elections. The TDP as acknowledged by Naidu himself made a desperate bid to ally with TRS , but ended up in the congress camp. The incremental addition the congress might provide to the TDP kitty in Andhra Pradesh has, perhaps, prompted Chandrababu Naidu to experiment with congress led combine in Telangana. His national political ambitions has also brought him nearer to congress leadership. Thus , he was more than eager to ensure a win for congress led combine in Telangana. Amidst reports of peoples front improving and psephologists like Lagadapati Rajagopal predicting a congress come back, Chandrababu Naidu was desperate to convince the congress leadership that he authored Telangana mandate for the grand old party. Perhaps Naidu saw an opportunity in Telangana elections to tell the electorate back home in his state that he can make and unmake governments. Thus Chandrababu Naidu invested a lot in Telangana elections evident from the fact that he was the most prominent campaigner than even the state congress leaders. Besides, Naidu chose to field granddaughter of NT Rama Rao , Suhasini to send a message that he has even personal stakes in Telangana elections. Balakrishna and several minsters of Andhra Pradesh descended on the campaign trail. But, over enthusiasm ultimately proved to be counterproductive for congress. Even when the congress was on winning spree in north India , the party failed to wrest the key south Indian state.
However, in a shrewd move, KCR converted a threat into opportunity when the Congress and TDP joined hands to reap the dividend of favourable electoral arithmetic. KCR has successfully presented the Congress -TDP alliance as a sell out to Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, thus triggering Telangana sentiment yet again.
Naidu’s intense campaign has sent wrong signals to core Telangana voter who perceived it as an attempt to dominate the politics of state. It may be recalled here that people of Telangana fought for separate state on the question of political domination of Andhra . The TRS and KCR and his son KTR tried to paint the contest as something between the Telangana son of the soil , KCR and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
KCR invoked Telangana pride and frequently referred to the letters allegedly written by Naidu in the latter’s capacity as the Chief Minister of Andhra, raising objections to the irrigation projects in the state. He further described the Congress- alliance with the TDP as selling the state’s interests to Amaravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh post bifurcation. Although Naidu gave a letter supporting the bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh for political benefit, it is widely believed that he was opposed to the division of the state. In fact, he called June 2, the day Telangana state was formed, as a dark chapter, alleging arbitrary bifurcation.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which KCR is the President of, has capitalised on the popular belief that Naidu was against the formation of the new state.
“Chandrababu Naidu has 175 seats. Why should he encroach on Telangana politics?” said KCR. It is a tightrope walk for Naidu. His political rivals back in Andhra — the YSR Congress Party and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena — decided not to contest in the Telangana elections. Thus TDP’s foray into Telangana elections was under fire from TRS.
The Congress, after a careful cost-benefit analysis, chose to ally with a party led by the Andhra Chief Minister. The sizeable presence of Seemandhra electorate in Telangana and the traditional political base for TDP prompted the Congress to sail with Naidu.
Though the TDP was crippled, most legislators who won on a TDP ticket in 2014 defected to the TRS thanks to the persistent politics of ‘Operation Akarsh’ (to poach leaders) and even became ministers in the KCR cabinet. However, the Congress leadership believed that the TDP still has something significant to add to favourable electoral arithmetic.
However, the perils of rising Telangana sentiment thanks to TRS onslaught hurt the Congress, which hoped to make a comeback in the new state that it delivered, braving acute political cost in the other residuary state.
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The demonetisation was the biggest economic policy measure of Narendra Modi government. Big hopes were created in the minds of people that economy will have innumerable benefits due to this far reaching policy measure, prominent among them is the unearthing of black money. However, the government and its economic apologetics soon changed the goal posts and claimed that demonetisation is for driving the nation towards cash less economy. The government’s argument was that corruption and all the other economic malaises were the result of high incidence of cash in the economy. Of course yet another claim was that demonetisation will increase tax compliance resulting in the generation of less and less black money as the illicit wealth and income holders will be scared to hide their income. What is the experience after two years of demonetisation?
The RBI data reveals that over 99 percent of demonetised currency has actually came back to the banks indicating a process of black money converted into white, thanks to demonetisation. The government in an affidavit to Supreme Court estimated that at least three lakh cores of black money will not return to the banking system. The reality is that hardly ten thousand cores have not returned indicating that demonetisation is an exercise in money laundering.
The protagonists of demonetisation argued that it helped to reduce the cash in circulation in the economy. Look at the following statistics culled out from official reports like the Annual Reports of the Reserve bank of India (RBI).
Cash to GDP ratio in India was 12.2 percent in 2015-16. It declined to 8.8 percent in 2016-17 post demonetisation. It again rose to 10.9 percent in 2017-18 and in June 2018, it further increased to 11.30 percent of GDP. The rising trend indicates that it is expected to be over 12 percent by the end of this financial year, the level at which the cash per GDP ratio stood prior to demonetisation. Currency circulation on November, 4, 2016 stood at 17.98 lakh crores. It declined to 8.98 lakh crore in January 6, 2017 as 86 percent of the then cash in circulation was taken out due to demonetisation. But, the cash in circulation in India increased to 19.68 lakh crore in October, 19, 2018, much above the level reported at the time of demonetisation.
The claim that high incidence of Cash in the economy necessarily increases corruption is fallacious if one looks at the international experience.
Cash to GDP ratio in Nigeria is 1.85 percent, India over 11 percent, Japan 19.4 percent, Singapore is around 10 percent. Should we conclude that Nigeria is less corrupt nation compared to India or Japan is more corrupt nation than India or Nigeria?
The afterthought of the ruling dispensation is that Taxes increased due to demonetisation. But look at the statistics from official sources to understand the political economy of taxation and demonetisation.
Direct Tax to GDP ratio was 5.81 percent in 2010-11 and increased to 5.98 percent in 2017-18. Direct tax collections stood at over 10 lakh crores in 2017-18 which is 18 percent higher than the previous year. But, direct taxes as proportion of total taxes remained at 52.29 percent which is below compared to 2014
But, indirect taxes to GDP increased from 4.48 percent in 2010-11 to 5.46 percent in 2017-18. Total Tax to GDP ratio was 11.3 percent in 2010-11 and increased to mere 11.44 percent in 2017-18. This shows that the overall taxes have not registered any major change. In fact the direct taxes whose evasion leads to the generation of black money rose much less compared to indirect taxes paid by common man for consuming the goods and services.
In fact, Corporate tax to GDP ratio fell from 3.89 percent in 2010-11 to 3.40 in 2017-18
On the other hand, Personal Income Tax rose from 1.9 percent in 2010-11 to 2.5 percent in 2017-18. 1.26 crore more taxpayers have been added in 2016-17. This is about 26% higher than the number of taxpayers added in 2015-16, when 99.98 lakh new taxpayers were added. The number of new taxpayers added in 2015-16 was also about 27.5% higher than that in 2014-15, when 78.37 lakh new taxpayers were added. The Economic Survey 2016-17 has shown that the average income reported by the new individual taxpayers added in 2016-17 was Rs 2.7 lakh.
The broad conclusions that can be drawn from these figures are as follows. There is no increase in the levels of tax collections due to demonetisation. Tax compliance has increased only in the case of salaried individuals who come under personal income tax regime. The corporates who are the main culprits in the generation of black money did not show any significant tax compliance and in fact their share has come down .
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Chandrababu Naidu’s decision to withdraw general consent given for CBI investigation within the jurisdiction of the state kicks off a major political storm in Andhra Pradesh.
The opposition YSR Congress calls this an attempt to prevent CBI probe into alleged attempt on the life of YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Even the BJP joins YSR Congress in this regard. The BJP state President Kanna Lakshminarayana echoed the YSR congress line that Chandrababu Naidu withdrew general consent only to prevent CBI probe into the alleged attempt to kill YS Jagan .
The BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao accuses it to be an attempt to shield corrupt as part of Naidu’s plans to build what he describes as anti-BJP grand alliance of corrupt parties. The BJP rightly sees in Naidu’s sudden decision an effort to galvanise anti BJP sentiment . Naidu’s strategy is evident from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not only welcoming her Andhra counterpart’s decision, but even followed a similar course in her own state.
However, the TDP defends the state government’s decision on two counts. Firstly, CBI lost credibility in the wake of recent developments. Secondly, Modi regime is using CBI to harass opposition leaders.
Andhra Pradesh government through GO NO 176 issued few days ago withdrew the general consent given to CBI for investigating the cases within the jurisdiction of the state through the GO No 109 issued on August 3 , 2018.
Notwithstanding the political cacophony over the dramatic decision of Naidu government , the issue merits a detailed look.
The BJP demands President’s rule in the state describing Naidu’s decision as undermining the centre. But, there is no room for such a move as per the Supreme Court order in SR Bommai verdict as Chandrababu Naidu government’s decision does not entail a breakdown of Constitutional machinery, the ground on which President rule can be imposed as per Article 356 of the Constitution of India
Andhra Pradesh government is well within its constitutional right to withdraw general consent as per the section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment act of 1946(central act 25 of 1946 ). Supreme Court in Kazi Lhendup Dorji versus CBI (1994) has also upheld the power to withdraw the consent. However, the apex court order meant that it would only apply prospectively but not to the ongoing cases. As per the law that is the basis for setting up of CBI or the apex court verdict of 1994 , the Andhra Pradesh government is legally empowered to withdraw the general consent which itself has earlier granted.
Police investigation is in the state list and therefore state government consent is required for CBI to undertake investigation within the jurisdiction of that particular state.
However, Naidu government’s decision is certainly not a good measure as it would only further the interests of the corrupt. But, this does not mean the state government has no right to do so.
The argument that Andhra government has done so to prevent CBI taking up the case of assault on YS Jagan is simply unfounded and erroneous.
The state police has already filed a criminal case in the matter and it is already investigating it. The CBI cannot take up this case suo moto unless the state government makes a specific request to this effect and the centre agrees for it. The state government has already rejected the demand for CBI probe .Therefore, whether or not there is a general consent, the matter cannot be taken up by the CBI on its own.
The YSR Congress has already gone to High court praying for third party inquiry. If the court orders CBI probe , the state government’s consent is not required as per the law. Linking the Naidu government’s decision to withdraw general consent to CBI with that of the case of assault on YS Jagan is , therefore, unsubstantiated .
But, why did Chandrababu Naidu government did so? It is a political symbolism to indicate the protest over the centre’s handling of CBI and other democratic institutions . At a time when TDP is trying to rally all anti BJP forces, such move would create right eco system.
However, the CBI can seek state government’s consent case by case and investigate the cases in the state if the government accords such consent. The Supreme Court or the High Court can always order CBI probe and in such cases, the consent of state government is not required.
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The congress may well be pleased to describe the Karnataka by-poll results as an illustration of emerging trend in the country as a run up to 2019. But, any such extrapolation is a sweeping generalization that can ultimately end up as an erroneous assumption. The BJP would like to dismiss the peoples mandate in the by-polls as an aberration caused by local specific factors. Such public posturing may be a political compulsion for the saffron party to keep its morale high. But, any such complacency can prove to be costlier for the ruling party when elections are round the corner.
There are two specific reasons for this. Firstly, despite alarmist predictions, the Congress-JDS combine could not only survive but inflict a humiliating defeat on Modi-Yeddyurappa led BJP, revealing the potential challenge the state level Mahagatbandhans could pose for the NDA juggernaut.
Secondly, these by-elections held across different regions of the Karnataka when seen in the context of similar such by election results in states like UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra ,etc since 2014 clearly reveal perceptible shift of voters away from the Modi mania.
Back home in Telangana , the Congress is jubilant as it comes close on the heels of elections. The Congress is trying to stitch together other opposition parties to take on TRS . The Karnataka model where the Congress gave the Chief Minister position to a junior ally is used as an illustration of congress magnanimity towards allies. But, there is world of difference between Karnataka and Telangana . The Congress allies in Telangana are not as strong as JD(S) . The BJP that is facing series of reverses elsewhere in the country is not its opponent. The party has to fight KCR regime, which many reports indicate to be still popular among the electorate. Besides, by-polls and general elections operate on different algorithms.
Yet, the results of Karnataka by-polls certainly enthused the Congress cadres in Telangana. Especially, its critics across the country till recently were busy writing obituaries for the grand old party .Meanwhile, the by-poll results have lot to mean for Karnataka and have a bearing for the country too. The BJP won 17 out of 28 seats in 2014 Loksabha elections from this state. The congress and JD(S) contested separately in 2014.
But, now the overwhelming electoral arithmetic emanating from congress alliance with JD(S) can send shivers down the saffron spine. The BJP is expected to lose 10 to 12 seats if the same situation continues and the two of its rivals fight together.
The BJP was only hoping that the Congress and JD(S) would fall apart soon due to the inherent contradictions within the coalition . Nothing of that sort has happened and the present victories would further cement the ties between two parties and the crisis in the coalition is highly unlikely at least until 2019 general elections.
Besides, the BJP has always been maintaining that it received popular mandate and the Congress -JD(S) combine snatched away the popular mandate by opportunistic alliance. But, the electorate of Karnataka have decisively dismissed this argument by giving massive mandates for the ruling coalition partners.
The BJP suffered huge erosion in its vote. In Shivamogga , the BJP’s strongman won in 2014 by a margin of whopping 3.6 lakh votes. But, now, his son, despite father’s total effort could retain the seat for the BJP by only 52,000 votes indicating a huge swing away from the saffron party as compared to 2014 . Similarly, the congress wrested the Bellary seat from BJP by margin of over two lakh votes defeating the mining mafia in its own bastion. The extent of margins clearly reveal that the by-poll verdict is beyond the advantageous arithmetic for the Congress which means BJP has a lot to worry about as 2019 fast approaches.
1. The world’s tallest statue of India’s iron man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is appropriately called as Statue of Unity as he was responsible for merger of about 500 princely states into Indian union. The first home minister of India certainly deserves all praise for this unparalleled task accomplished with such meticulous effort. But, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to unite India’s political spectra for the unveiling of the statue. No other party leader was even invited. It was all BJP affair though the statue was constructed by a trust liberally funded by the government owned public sector units. Statue of Unity inaugurated amidst unprecedented disunity
2. Sardar Patel will no longer enjoy the prestige and the privilege as someone on whose name the world’s tallest statue is. This statue is 182 metres long. By 2021 , 212 metre statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji will come up. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister now talks of erecting the statue of Lord Rama. Many more state governments run by the regional parties may come up with more statue to remember their own icons. We already had the experience of Mayawati. Perhaps in a decade or two India may have the dubious distinction of having highest number of tall statues.
3. While dedicating the statue to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the towering statue as ‘a symbol of our engineering and technical prowess’. It is true, we have accomplished plastic surgery in the form of Lord Ganesha . We had internet during Mahabharat times as Sanjaya using the internet search engine saw the war to narrate it to Dhritarashtra . Ancient India mastered civil aviation as Ramayana talks about Pushpaka Vimana. But we never had such gigantic statues during Treta Yuga or Dvapara Yuga .
But , the Prime minister of modern India should realise that producing a laptop at a price of less than Rs 5000 or technology that can provide solar powered drinking water at a pittance is much greater engineering feat than constructing a statue.
4. The central government claims that it has not funded the statue construction. Can there be any bigger lie than this as oil PSU’s mainly funded it. Why not Mukesh Ambani or Gautam Adani, the proud Gujarati industrialists find it necessary to finance this grand project of Sardar Patel. Even the great nationalist Baba Ramdev who owns business worth 10,000 crore annual revenue did not contribute even a pittance to such a great nationalistic act.
5. Narendra Modi government collected around Rs. 7.5 lakh cores in the last four years in the form of taxes on petroleum products on the pretext that oil PSUs are bleeding. But, these public owned oil companies could contribute so much for the construction of statues under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). But do they not have Consumer Social Responsibility .
6. The statue project is also portrayed as a symbol of Indian nationalism. But, the government that swears in the name of Make in India imported micro panels of bronze from China .
7. Sardar Patel deserves honour . But why not such a unique honour bestowed on the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi who was also incidentally born in Gujarat.
8. Sardar Patel statue is projected as tourism project to counter the criticism of wasteful expenditure . If it is only tourism project, why not such a project be given to Andhra Pradesh which is demanding special status or to Hyderabad which was integrated into Indian union by none other than Sardar Patel .
There is a general sense of satisfaction on the performance of the incumbent state government with however sporadic anti-incumbency prevailing in certain sections of society. The levels of satisfaction / dissatisfaction with the government performance vary from constituency to constituency and a section of society to the other depending upon the local issues and the concrete political climate prevailing in that Assembly segment.
Students of Department of Journalism, Osmania University, have undertaken a survey to assess the mood of the voter in four Assembly segments bordering the University campus — Amberpet, Musheerabad, Secunderabad and Uppal.
This survey is a part of their learning exercise on election reporting, which is part of the course curriculum. The survey is certainly not a representative of the prevailing electoral situation in these constituencies or in the city in general. Therefore, it is wrong to derive any universal conclusions from the survey. But it certainly helps in decoding the signals emanating from the electoral arena to an extent.
The survey revealed that there is a perceptible difference in the voters’ attitude towards the government between the beneficiaries of the welfare schemes and the non-beneficiaries. Aasara pensions and Kalyana Lakshmi / Shadi Mubarak schemes seem to be more popular welfare schemes. Even the non-beneficiaries are appreciating these schemes, especially the KalyanaLakshmi / Shadi Mubarak given the sentiment associated with marriage.
However, voters who are not the direct beneficiaries of any targeted welfare schemes expressed unhappiness over the quality of local governance and the civic issues left unresolved.
However, performance of the government alone seems to be not the only factor that is likely define the people’s mandate. The feedback of the people towards the incumbent MLA and the relative strengths of individual candidates will go a long way in shaping the voters’ choices. This trend is noticed in certain constituencies held by popular opposition MLAs, where the state government still enjoys favourable response.
The survey revealed a general sense of voter apathy that is a characteristic of an urban voter especially among the middle classes. They are generally cynical of the political system.
The voters are generally happy over the improved power situation and the maintenance of the law and order in the city. But they expressed dissatisfaction over bad condition of local roads.
Majority voters have not appreciated the necessity for premature dissolution of state Assembly. But they said it would not, in any way, impact their voting choices.
Muslims account for over 12 percent of Telangana population and form decisive voting in several constituencies across the state with concentrated presence in old city of Hyderabad. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed election eve public meetings in Bhainsa, Kamareddy towns in north Telangana and Charminar in Hyderabad old city. The Congress selection of these places for the first leg of Rahul’s campaign in Telangana elections indicate a clear strategy to woo Muslim vote. Bhainsa and Kamareddy also have a significant Muslim voting. Charminar area of Hyderabad is the heart of MIM bastion. The Congress has already declared that ‘vote for KCR is vote for Modi‘, a strong message to the Muslim electorate.
Several constituencies in Telangana especially, the urban ones have sizable Muslim voting . Such districts include undivided Mahabubnagar , Karimnagar , Nizamabad , Nalgonda, Adilabad etc. The TRS has a better image in the rural areas due to host of welfare schemes. The congress perhaps believes that urban seats are more conducive for them to win. Focus on minority vote would further bolster its chances, a congress leader remarked.
The TRS has an open understanding with MIM. KCR publicly announced that MIM is his ally and there will only be friendly contest against it. These so called ‘friendly’ contests are an attempt to divide non-MIM vote. The TRS is likely to field Hindu candidates in MIM strong hold to effect division in anti-MIM vote . The Congress while in power played a similar trick as it had an undeclared understanding with Owaisis.
The Congress government earlier implemented four percent reservations for Muslim and thus enjoys a positive image to this effect. KCR has also promised 12 percent reservation for Muslims and a request to this effect is pending before the centre. The congress intends to focus on the non implementation of this promise.
KCR has delinked assembly elections from Parliament elections by resorting to premature dissolution of state legislature only to ensure Muslim vote in his favour as anti-Modi narrative shall dominate 2019 polls. There is also intense speculation in the political circles that MIM may even join KCR cabinet if TRS falls short of majority. At the same time the political grapevine also says that TRS may join the BJP led NDA post 2019 if the saffron party falls short of numbers or even otherwise. All this depends on post poll arithmetic both at the centre and the state.
Meanwhile, the BJP has roped in Swamy Paripoornananda in a clear bid to attract Hindu vote through anti-Muslim rhetoric. The BJP president Amit Shah has exhorted the voters of Telangana to elect BJP to ‘liberate’ Telangana from MIM clutches. The BJP is likely to focus its attack on KCR ‘s bonhomie with Owaisis and the Congress alleged Muslim appeasement politics. Barring the city of Hyderabad , the MIM failed to win any seat in Telangana . In fact it never attempted to do so and helped the party in power with which it always has an overt or covert understanding. In fact, the MIM has significant wins in local bodies elections in the past like in Karimanagar , Bhainsa etc. The TRS now and the congress in the past never tried to penetrate into Owaisis strongholds in return for the MIM’s tacit support elsewhere in the state. Thus, in the wake of bifurcation of the state, Muslim vote seems to have become a crucial one in Telangana electoral arena.
The BJP polled 10.5% of the votes on its own and got 14.65% votes along with its allies in the state assembly elections held in 2016. This was the highest ever vote share for the BJP since its formation. The party has been able to erode the Congress base substantially and also managed to cut into even the left votes, though in a small way, across the state. However, the BJP could win only one assembly constituency in the last assembly elections.
The BJP could attract into National Democratic Alliance (NDA) newborn political outfit, the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), P C Thomas’ Kerala Congress faction and the Janadhi pathya Ooru Vikasana Munnani headed by former left fire brand leader C K Janu.
However, despite such impressive voting tally , the BJP could not ensure any worthwhile presence in Kerala assembly.
In fact, Kerala is an ideal ground for BJP politics of majoritarian mobilisation as minorities constitute nearly half of the state population. The Muslims and Christian parties have a dominant presence in Kerala electoral politics providing potential for competitive mobilisation by BJP. Still, the party could not emerge as a dominant player as the congress occupies the right wing political space in the left dominated Kerala politics. With the BJP gaining ascendancy in the national politics moving from the fringes to the core of national polity , the saffron party considers the current epoch to be the right context to alter its political fortunes in Kerala. With the left in power in Kerala, the BJP and its parivar strongly feels that the Sabarimala verdict is the perfect weapon for its politico-religious and anti-left political mobilisation. With the congress taking a soft hindutva stand , the saffron narrative gains legitimacy. Thus, Sabarimala protest cannot be seen as sporadic outburst of anger over hurt religious sentiments. Hence it is a strategic political manoeuvring of the BJP in a state that remains a hard nut to crack historically since the days of its earlier incarnation, the Jan Sangh.
The RSS and the BJP have been desperately trying to capture a space for themselves in the political sphere of Kerala for the past many decades.
This is precisely the reason why the BJP which earlier welcomed the supreme court verdict has now joined the protest against it. The politico religious organisations are trying to portray the apex court verdict as a conflict between believers and non believers. Surprisingly, the congress sensing the political opportunity also joined the protest alongside BJP and sangh parivar though it earlier welcomed the supreme court judgement. Thus both BJP and the congress compete to reap political mileage from the religious sentiments of the conservative section of the society.
Deliberately ignoring the fact that it was supreme court bench that has allowed women of all ages into the temple and the state government constitutionally obliged to implement the verdict, the BJP, congress are turning the Sabarimala protest into anti left political mobilisation. The BJP is particularly keen on encashing the sentiment and the protest in the run up to 2019 parliamentary elections. It may be recalled here that the BJP government in Maharashtra implemented similar court verdict allowing women’s entry into Shani Shingnapur temple. The BJP implements court verdict allowing women entry into temple in Maharashtra, but opposes the same in Kerala. The BJP hailed the verdict initially and now joins the protest demanding that the government should not implement the verdict. Let the Modi government dare to bring an act in Parliament banning women’s entry into religious places wherever there is such a tradition and ritual.
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Telangana immerses itself in the famous Bathukamma festival(Festival of Flowers). This hugely popular festival ,unique to Telangana region only, has transformed into a symbol of Telangana’s sub-regional identity.
It was the portentous weapon during the movement for separate state for Telangana. In the name of reasserting the cultural identity of Telangana, the traditional Bathukamma, literally meaning goddess of life, festival where women offer flowers to a goddess and seek her blessings, was organised and celebrated as public protest. Along with long-established Bathukamma songs, which have patriarchal overtones, new ones on the plight of Telangana and in praise of those who died for the cause of a state were composed and sung in public celebrations.
Similar to Tilak using Ganesh Chathurthi to mobilise masses in the freedom struggle, Bathukamma was effective in galvanizing peoples movement for Telangana state, given its mass participatory character. Pitted against the national party the congress, the TRS after coming to power has accorded Bathukamma the status of state festival and officially organises celebrations in a bid to further consolidate its identity politics. KCR’s daughter under the aegis of Telangana Jagruthi, an NGO, spearheaded the Bathukamma celebrations before and after the formation of state. Thus the Bathukamma festival is a significant case study in cultural politics.
Sankranti is the popular festivals in the coastal Andhra as it is an agricultural harvest festival and the region especially the Krishna ,Godavari basin is known for its agrarian prosperity. On the contrary, Bathukamma festival is the more prominent festival compared to even Sankranti. This difference helped the Telangana activists to use the festival as an identity of Telangana.
The Bathukamma festival has several noteworthy features that even any region should emulate. It fosters a spirit of community and collective consciousness as the villagers en masse converge to sing and celebrate the festival. The themes in the Bathukamma songs denote the rich cultural traditions and the struggle for life of the people. The festival is also the celebration of womanhood as it is female centric .
Besides, the festival has lot of environmental importance too. The colourful flowers attractively arranged in tiers provide a visual feast besides purifying the air and water with their medicinal properties. Thus the festival is not a demonstration of pomp and show but intimately attached to nature . The inherent lesson the festival offers is to protect and preserve the nature for the larger good of the humanity .
Flowers like Cassia, Celosia, Marigold, Chrysanthemum, Lotus, Cucurbita leaves and others from uncultivated and barren plains of the region are used to decorate the Bathukamma indicating the richness of life and tradition.
It is widely believed that when hundreds of Bathukammas are immersed in the water bodies like tanks , the concentration of the medical properties increases in water leading to the death of bacteria, fungi and protozoan’s. This helps in preventing water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea along with some skin diseases.
The Thangedu (Cassia auriculata )has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiprotozoal properties. Gunugu (Celosia argentea ) is useful in treating jaundice, diarrhoea , gonorrhoea , wounds , fever and diabetes. Lotus (Tamera ) strengthens heart and helps in maintaining blood sugar levels . Banthi(Marigold) is used in treatment of allergic reactions, eczema and bruises. Chamanthi (Chrysanthemum ) helps in detoxification and clear vision.
However , this does not mean that these flowers should be directly used. Further research is needed to study the significance and scientific content of flowers used in the Bathukamma festival . But, the festival practises tell us the immense value of nature and how humanity can be benefited from it.
The Telangana electoral arena is witnessing one of the worst forms of abusive verbal exchanges between the ruling TRS and the Congress led opposition.
As the chief minister KCR leads such a discourse, his lieutenants are much more provoked to hurl abuses at political rivals.
As the media, especially the social media give disproportionate prominence due to the inherently sensational character of abusive political discourse, the opposition leaders do not wish to lag behind in an election season.
The consequence is much more felt in social space where supporters of either camps going berserk in their criticism of political opponents. The steep degeneration in the language of political discourse is transforming elections into a personality feud rather than an issue centric one. ‘Thief’, traitor, smelling the faeces, licking what was vomited, cheater, swindler, juggler, trickster, crook etc., and many more words in popular telugu dialect of the region which may not have appropriate English equivalents have been added to the political lexicon. Such an unabashed degeneration has a danger of turning into a model for popular discourse rendering disservice to not just to democracy but even to the civilized social living.
Political parties in a bid to attract the attention of the electorate resort to this uncivilised behaviour . Often the pretext is that they are speaking the language of people. This is nothing but an affront to the dignity of the commoner.
As the parties are now becoming the proprietorial concerns of the leadership, the followers of these parties are more loyal than the master. The second rank leaders and even other down the line think that speaking in such a language would appeal to their leaders too. Thus, the vulgar discourse get magnified.
However, there is no guarantee that such a degenerated language would help anyone electorally. The western research reveals that profanity use reduced perceived persuasiveness of the message(Swearing in Political Discourse ,Why Vulgarity Works).
However, the Indian political leaders firmly believe that such cannot be the hypothesis in Indian situation. Writing in Business Line, Rasheeda Bhagat says that we’d be stupid to think that people are disgusted by such abusive language and epithets used against political rivals. Given the kind of language dominating the Indian political firmament for many years, our voters seem to have developed thick hides. Had the Indian electorate been really offended and punished some of the worst culprits who are only too well known, electioneering bhasha and its nuances would have improved. But on the on the other hand, it seems to be getting worse. Quite paradoxically, if these leaders speak the same language in legislature, it becomes unparliamentarily and shall be expunged from records. In the age of live television, such abusive attacks go uncensored. With the parties and their supporters having dedicated social medial platforms , anti-social discourse get multiplied. The unregulated character of the social media makes the game much more murkier.
Competitive politics further compound the problem. There are people who believe that the Election Commission of India should take stock of such errant behaviour and take deterrent action. But such a close scrutiny and action there in is certainly a difficult task given the magnitude of our elections and the campaigning in it.
However, this trend cannot go unabated. There should be civil society initiative to counter this degeneration in Indian polity. Eminent citizen committees can be constituted to name and shame the leaders who indulge in such a vulgarity . Ultimately such a behavioural problem can only be tackled in a people’s court though statutory bodies can do a lot to stem the rot.
In series of public meetings following the dissolution of state assembly, the TRS president and the chief Minister of Telangana has been launching a virulent attack on the TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. This is despite KCR stating that the TDP does not even have a fraction of one percent vote .
The angry outbursts of KCR are not without a reason. There is a calculated electoral strategy to create a perception that the mandate in 2018 is between him and the Andhra chief Minister. KCR believes that such a perception if strengthened can rally Telangana voter in his favour as the sentiment is still afresh.
Amidst raising temperatures on the question of bifurcation that has thoroughly embarrassed Chandrababu Naidu , TDP won 15 seats on its own and stood second in another 20 seats in 2014. This performance was fairly impressive given the fact that the congress that delivered Telangana won in only 21 seats. The votes polled by TDP were higher than TRS majority in as many as 15 seats.
The TDP has been in a disarray in Telangana. Most of its legislators have defected to TRS . The party lost is leaders and cadres. Subsequent to the note for vote scam in which party supremo himself faces allegations of bribing a MLA to vote for the party in MLC elections, N Chandrababu Naidu has been relatively keeping away from party activities in Telangana. He is no longer aggressive in his criticism of TRS. All this has certainly demoralised the party rank and file. Its voting has also been largely eroded evident from the party’s dismal performance in elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC ).
Now, the congress and TDP hope that their alliance will be a win-win partnership despite the fact that the TDP’s strength has dwindled since 2014 with large scale defections from the party to ruling TRS. This is because, TDP has a traditional base and is expecting a boost if it ties up with congress. the TDP Telangana leadership believes that party can recoup its strength as the alliance with congress gives the much needed confidence to the party cadres and leaders alike.
Thus, the Congress finds TDP as the most promising ally as it is desperately looking for additional vote to dislodge KCR regime.
Though the TRS publicly pooh poohed the Congress – TDP combine as a desperate bid by the opposition to stitch up an opportunistic alliance, the party is certainly not unconcerned of possible political implications of any such electoral arithmetic taking shape in the opposition camp. This is precisely the cause of concern for TRS supremo, KCR . Thus by mounting his attack on Chandrababu Naidu by invoking the Telangana sentiment , KCR intends to make TDP a liability for the congress.
In fact, the post bifurcation period has seen bonhomie between the two telugu chief ministers . KCR joined the celebrations in Amaravati, when the Prime Minister unveiled the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Not just sharing such a cordiality, KCR described Naidu as his best friend when asked about roping in Naidu into his proposed federal front of non Congress , non BJP parties. The TRS has extended support to the demand of Andhra Pradesh for special status. All this was seen as a strategy to woo the Seemandhra electorate who form a decisive vote base in several constituencies in Telangana. However, the bonhomie turned into hostility as TDP moved towards Congress to challenge KCR.
The movement for separate state of Telangana was primarily against the domination of Andhra political leadership. The two telugu states still have many unresolved issues like sharing of Krishna , Godavari waters, dividing the joint properties etc. Being the chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh , Chandrababu Naidu has obviously defended the interests of his state. Andhra Pradesh government raised objections to the prestigious Kaleshwaram and Palamuru -Ranga Reddy Lift irrigation schemes in Telangana . The High court is still undivided. There is a wide spread perception that Chandrababu Naidu is responsible for the undue delay in bifurcation of judiciary. The wounds of bifurcation are still afresh. Precisely, the TRS and KCR want to incite this Telangana identity to question Chandrababu Naidu led TDP. Thus, KCR wants to frustrate the attempts of congress to mount a joint opposition fight against the TRS in the ensuing Assembly elections.