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 Supreme court Judgement allowing women of all ages entry into the ancient Sabarimala temple raises fundamental question on how far India’s secular constitution permits State to regulate age old religious faiths and beliefs. The conservative opinion is that disallowing women between ages 10 and 50 is integral to the faith of the temple and therefore beyond state intervention. What does India’s jurisprudence tell us on the delicate relationship between State, religion and the individual.
The apex court clarified the limits of religious freedom in a secular constitution. The Supreme Court of India in a significant judgement in Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam & ors. Versus The Government of Tamil Nadu & Anr said, “…while the right to freedom of religion and to manage the religious affairs of any denomination is undoubtedly a fundamental right, the same is subject to public order, morality and health and further that the inclusion of such rights in the Constitution will not prevent the State from acting in an appropriate manner, in the larger public interest…”
The often quoted argument is that courts have no role in religious matters as Article 26 of the Indian Constitution provides for religious freedom.
But, the ecclesiastical jurisprudence rejects this argument. The Supreme Court repeatedly held the view that a religious institution has freedom to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. But this right guaranteed under Article 26 of the Constitution of India cannot be either absolute or arbitrary. Such freedom is confined to essential elements of a religious practice as stated by the apex court judgments in cases like Sri Venkataramana Devaru and Others Vs. State of Mysore and Others and Durgah Committee, Ajmer and another Vs. Syed Hussain Ali and others.
Justice Gajendragadkar was of the view, “……. that in order that the practices in question should be treated as a part of religion they must be regarded by the said religion as its essential and integral part; otherwise even purely secular practices which are not an essential or an integral part of religion are apt to be clothed with a religious form and may make a claim for being treated as religious practices within the meaning of Article 26. Unless such practices are found to constitute an essential and integral part of a religion, the claim for the protection under Article 26 may have to be carefully scrutinised; in other words, the protection must be confined to such religious practices as are an essential and an integral part of it and no other. ” The SC explicitly reiterated the Court’s power to decide on what constitutes an essential religious practice.
Therefore, the religious institutions, organisations or their believers cannot claim supremacy or immunity from the tenets of secular constitution of India in the name of faith and the constitutionally sanctioned freedom to pursue, propagate it. But, this is not to argue that secular institutions like courts or government can always interfere in religious affairs. The observations made in the minority view in the Supreme Court judgement in Commissioner of Police and Others Vs. Acharya Jagadishwarananda Avadhuta and Another are worth mentioning here.
The para 57 of the said view reads as follows: “The exercise of the freedom to act and practise in pursuance of religious beliefs is as much important as the freedom of believing in a religion…. there are some forms of practicing the religion by outward actions which are as much part of religion as the faith itself.
The freedom to act and practise can be subject to regulations in our Constitution, subject to public order, health and morality and to other provisions in Part III of the Constitution. However, in every case the power of regulation must be so exercised with the consciousness that the subject of regulation is the fundamental right of religion, and as not to unduly infringe the protection given by the Constitution.
Further, in the exercise of the power to regulate, the authorities cannot sit in judgement over the professed views of the adherents of the religion and to determine whether the practice is warranted by the religion or not. That is not their function.” The freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution is not only confined to beliefs but extends to religious practices and hardly requires reiteration. However, Right of belief and practice guaranteed by Article 25 is subject to public order, morality and health and other provisions of Part III of the Constitution.
Public order will be in jeopardy if in a diverse religious society, various religious bodies give unlimited interpretation of the religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution of India. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta points out in ‘Passion and Constraint: Courts and the Regulation of Religious Meaning’ in Rajeev Bhargava’s (ed) ‘Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2008), in most constitutional settings , courts “have to determine whether or not a policy places a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion. ”
Public interest versus religious freedom
The wording of Articles 25 and 26 (the provisions related to religious freedom), said Marc Galanter (Law and Society in Modern India, Oxford, 1997), establishes primacy of public interest over religious claims and provides a wide scope for governmentally sponsored reforms.
( 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 )
Mahakutami in Telangana: Irritants surface, commitment stays; Split in anti KCR vote unavoidable
The Congress bid to stitch up Mahagatbandhan type grand alliance in Telangana continues to face hurdles over seat sharing. The demand of TDP, CPI and the Telangana Jana Samithi for more seats is unpalatable to congress which does not want to depend on allies to come to power in the post poll arithmetic.
According to sources, the TJS wants 35 seats, while the TDP proposed to contest in as many as 21 seats. The CPI submitted a list of 12 seats which it wants to contest . As the allies make such demands, the congress will be left with just over 50 seats . However, the leaders of allies tell in private that this is only a wish list and ultimately there will be adjustment.
Meanwhile, the congress reportedly offered only three seats to TJS . Such a wide difference in what is sought by the allies and what is offered by the congress makes the seat adjustment an uphill task.
Once the number of seats finalises, there will be dispute over identifying the particular constituencies each party will contest as there will be competing claims in at least few segments. Subsequently, there will be a problem of satisfying the rebels to ensure united fight . Finally, the vote should transfer from one party to the other.
At the time of filing this report, it is learnt that the TDP and the CPI are ready to prune their claims substantially paving the way for a grand alliance. But, the TJS still remains stubborn. Meanwhile the Congress leadership feels that the TJS is an untested missile.
Besides, the TJS has sought the formation of a committee to prepare a common Minimum Programme which it calls the Martyrs agenda. The TJS is insisting that its leader Prof. Kodandaram should lead such a committee which not only formulates the agenda but would be monitoring such an agenda in case the grand alliance is voted to power.
Though the PCC chief is reportedly agreeable to such an idea, the Congress party has its own apprehensions over such a proposal especially with reference to post poll monitoring of the agenda. The Congress wants to confine the role of any such committee headed by Prof. Kodandaram to the drafting of the agenda only. The Congress fears that this should not lead to any claims for Chief Minister from the allies given the experience of Karnataka.
The Congress high command is not so favourable to accord to Prof. Kodandaram a position akin to UPA chairperson, according to sources in the party.
However, the congress is convinced of the fact that it cannot on its own dislodge KCR and is desperate to have alliances. The TDP and CPI are fighting a battle for survival and henceforth more than keen to join a grand alliance. Thus, the opposition finding the grand alliance a win-win opportunity is politically committed for such a conglomeration though the devil lies in working out details.
Meanwhile TRS has intensified its attack on opposition primarily aimed at frustrating the formation of any possible political alliance led by congress. . The primary argument of the TRS is on the role of Andhra leaders in Telangana politics . This refers to the presence of TDP led by Andhra Chief Minister , N Chandrababu Naidu in the grand alliance. KT Rama Rao spearheaded the attack when he specifically targeted not just the Congress but even Prof. Kodandaram.
Meanwhile even if the congress , TDP, CPI and the TJS manage to arrive at an understanding, there will not be a joint opposition taking on the KCR juggernaut. The BJP and the CPI(M) are not part of this opposition unity exercise making anti TRS vote split rather inevitable much to the advantage of KCR.
For More Views:https://youtu.be/KmfJ_p5-vJE
( 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 )
Rahul Gandhi is in Andhra Pradesh in a frantic bid to revive the congress decimated by its politics of bifurcation. The Modi government’s denial of special status to the beleaguered state has renewed the hopes in congress camp to attempt for a revival in 2019. As expected Rahul Gandhi yet again promised special status if Congress is voted to power. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party have been consistent in their support to special status demand. In fact, the Congress has the moral and political authority to reiterate this promise. The Congress Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh has announced special status to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. Thus, the bifurcation of the state itself is predicated upon the promise of special status. Though the BJP’s support was instrumental in dividing the state, the people of Andhra Pradesh have punished the congress for effectuating the division of the state against their wishes. In fact, barring the CPI(M) , every political party has voiced the demand for division. Yet, the Congress had to bear the brunt of the bifurcation.
Similarly, though every other party is demanding and promising special status except the BJP, the congress has an additional credibility in assuring such a status to the Andhra Pradesh. The central government alone can deliver such a status to any state. There is indication of a front of regional parties coming to power in the centre in 2019. Even if so, many regional parties like ADMK, BJD , TRS etc. have reservations in according special category status to Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the BJP has already denied such a status and is not even promising it in 2019. Thus, the Congress is the only national party capable of coming to power and according special status to Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh state Congress is , therefore focussing on this promise. The run up to 2019 elections is the perfect opportunity to en-cash on it. Rahul Gandhi is , thus, the perfect choice to promise it in a bid to revive the party in the state.
Besides the special status, the congress hopes for favourable political arithmetic by forging an understanding with TDP after the latters exit from NDA . The TDP is also showing signs of coming closer to its once arch rival as there cannot be permanent friends or foes in politics. The two parties are of course ideologically not averse to coming together. However, the TDP is still indecisive fearing possible negative fallout of allying with a party that divided the state against the wishes of the people of the region that now comprises the state of Andhra Pradesh. The early elections have come in handy for both the parties to perhaps experiment. Given the divided opinion within the party, the TDP leadership seems to inclined towards experimenting with its new and rather strange political alliance in Telangana before extending to Andhra Pradesh. If the Congress wins Rajasthan , Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh elections , it will be much easy for the TDP to convince the electorate on its possible alliance with Congress claiming that the grand old party may come to power in Delhi to enable the state to get special status. Any positive result in Telangana would further embolden TDP to join hands with Congress. However, the political chemistry between Congress and TDP remains a questionable aspect at least in Andhra Pradesh .
Amidst Naidu government’s half hearted implementation of loan waiver, congress also hopes to fuel its revival by promising such a relief to the farmers in a state having record levels of peasant indebtedness . The National Sample Survey data suggests that Andhra Pradesh leads the nation in the farmers indebtedness. Therefore, loan waiver is an emotive issue. The BJP is averse to implementing loan waiver at the national level while the Congress led UPA has done so in which the united Andhra Pradesh was the principal beneficiary. Thus, the Congress President promised loan waiver and targeted Modi stating that the Prime Minister is more interested in waiving the loans of the big corporates instead of helping farmers.
But, the ground situation is such that though people favour Rahul Gandhi as prime minister in 2019, there is no such mood to vote for congress revival. The Congress hopes that it will be the beneficiary of such a pro Rahul mood as the election data reveals that 77 percent of voters usually vote for the same party both at the centre and the state. But , the same logic can be the answer for the Congress hopes. The voters of Andhra Pradesh are in no mood to vote for Congress as they are still angry with the party over bifurcation. Thus, the voters are divided between TDP and the YSR Congress. However , they may prefer Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister as compared to Narendra Modi.
At best the party may improve its strength as compared to its lowest ever performance of 2014.
( 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 TRS supremo has blown the poll bugle. Much before the opposition could even start its electioneering , KCR goes on a full spate campaign by launching his first election meeting at Husnabad. The battle lines in Telangana are clear. The fight is on electing KCR again or not . Thus, the Telangana elections turn into a sort of referendum on politics and performance of KCR.
The TRS seems to have drawn up its electoral strategy based on six pillars.
Firstly, KCR confidently seeks the mandate on his government’s four and a half year rule. Especially , KCR is banking on the slew of welfare measures his government has initiated. It is true that many of these remain yet to be fully implemented. However, KCR ‘s unique selling proposition is to seek fresh mandate from people so that he can finish the work he has begun in 2014. While the opposition wants to attack non implementation and less than full execution of certain schemes as a weapon to hit at TRS, KCR wishes to convert this into an opportunity by urging the people to give him a fresh term exactly to complete them and do the more.
The second contour of his election strategy is to capitalise on divided opposition. The BJP and the CPI(M) are not to join in any Congress led bandwagon. The TJS seems to be a non starter. Thus, the TRS is to an extent wary of possible alliance of Congress and TDP at least in Telangana .
Thus, the third contour of his poll strategy is to frustrate any such possibility of Congress -TDP combination. Thus, KCR invokes the Andhra party theory to prevent Congress alliance with TDP and fight it if any such poll ties up is made between the arch rivals.
The fourth contour is political maths of KCR . While making every attempt to diffuse opposition unity , KCR is has openly defended his strange friendship with MIM. Telangana has 12 percent Muslim population . The undeclared bonhomie with BJP is helping him to prevent any polarised debate on TRS -MIM alliance. The TRS is exploiting the all India BJP’s necessity to frustrate Congress in national politics . KCR fully knows that Modi -Shah led BJP will not like to antagonise a strong regional rival of congress. Thus, TRS is able to continue its declared friendship with MIM and undeclared friendship with BJP.
The fifth contour of KCR is to invoke Telangana sentiment once again. The TRS despite weak organisational strength could be catapulted to power in 2014 due to Telangana sentiment. However, the sentiment alone may not work in 2019 . But, its importance in polls cannot be ruled out. By chanting slogans like not be the slaves of Delhi and criticism that TDP is Andhra Party, the TRS wants to keep the sentiment alive. The persisting differences between the two successor states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will any how contribute to rousing sentiment.
The sixth contour of this election strategy is to take an early advantage by premature dissolution and announcing candidates much in advance, much before opposition finalises political realignment , leave alone selection of candidates.
K Chandrasekhar Rao urged the people of the state to not become slaves of parties dictated from Delhi, and called for emulating Tamil Nadu for their self-respect. Notwithstanding such a rhetoric KCR has not said anything on the centre despite state having a long list of unfulfilled demands. KCR’s talk is merely an attempt to rouse emotive issues on the eve of elections. Though the Telangana sentiment catapulted him to power in 2014, the 2019 mandate would be on the performance of his government against the expectations he roused. As he is pitted against the national party congress , KCR attempts to fuel regional identity by invoking Tamil Nadu model. But, the emergence of TRS and socio-political idiom of Telangana have nothing to do with the Dravidian political legacy superimposed by the filmy glamour of Tamil Nadu politics.
The Telangana movement was more about a separate state which is essentially a politico geographic territory rather than a fervent socio political identity . It was not federal movement against the imposition of Hindi as in the case of Tamil Nadu or the exclusive linguistic identity .
The Hyderabad state which now largely constitutes the Telangana was in existence from 1948 to 1956, while Andhra state carved out of composite Madras state was in existence from 1953 to 1956. The merger of the two states was questioned even at the time of formation of Andhra Pradesh. But, the united telugu state was crated with some promises for the Telangana region. As these promises embodied in Gentleman’s Agreement remain unimplemented , the movement for separate state of Telangana begun to oppose the dominance of yet another region of Telugu land itself. On the contrary, the Tamil Nadu politics are woven around Tamil nationalism. While Telangana represents sub regional sentiment against the composite linguistic identity, the Tamil Nadu politics and society represent a strong and legitimate Tamil linguistic aspirations.
While the Telangana movement was for only a separate state , the Tamil Nadu regionalism is a combination of linguistic nationalism and radical social reform movement that questioned the casteist orthodoxy . The Dravidian politics is more a social revolution though its character was largely diluted subsequently at the altar of political expediency.
Therefore, it is erroneous to draw any parallels between Telangana and Tamil politics
Besides, the TRs has been pusillanimous in its attitude towards centre. Many of the provisions of bifurcation act remain unimplemented. The long standing demands of Telangana remain unattended to as the state is not on the political radar of the ruling dispensation at the centre.
The High Court is yet to be bifurcated. Bayyaram steel plant is given a go-by. The centre refuses to accord national status to any of the irrigation projects in the new state despite BJP leaders explicitly promising to this effect in the run up to 2014 elections.
The Kazipet coach factory remains a dream. The rail connectivity has not been improved. The NDA government has cancelled the Information technology and Investment Region (ITIR) sanctioned by the previous UPA regime .
Yet, the TRS refuses to raise any strong protests except occasional statements. This is more due to political proximity TRS supremo enjoys with BJP all India leadership
Yet , KCR raising the bogey of revolt against Delhi sans any rationality.
KCR has not even touched on his non-Congress , non-BJP front in his speech at the massive rally held near Hyderabad on Sunday.
Thus, KCR invoking the Tamil model and referring to Delhi dominance is a calculated move to put Congress in dock rather than any serious attempt to assert the Telangana sub-regional identity .
For More Views: https://youtu.be/Z1GkPoTSCh4
The TRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao sounding the poll bugle claims that his party will win 100 seats in the 119 strong Telangana legislative assembly. This claim can either be a strong expectation or a strategic move to enthuse his party rank and file and demoralise the opposition camp even before war has begun.
Notwithstanding such poll eve assertions, the TRS chief cannot be oblivious to the fact that sporadic discontentment is brewing against the K Chandrashekhar Rao government, at least among certain sections though, the Opposition Congress is far from winning over the confidence of the people. The half-hearted implementation of certain flagship schemes, like the 2-bedroom houses remains a challenge for the ruling TRS regime. While the limited beneficiaries of the scheme are certainly overwhelmed, the heartburn among those who failed to draw benefits is much stronger. Jobs, funds and water were the prime demands of the Telangana movement. But, the number of government jobs filled are much less when compared to what was promised by the TRS during the movement. Yet another glaring failure of the government is regarding implementation of its much publicised scheme of three acres for each landless Dalit family, besides providing the remaining extent of land for those who possess less land. The scheme is almost a non-starter with only couple of thousands of acres distributed. However, the TRS expects to tide over the discontentment regarding such issues by focusing on its developmental and welfare schemes like cash support to farmers, drinking water scheme, irrigation projects, financial assistance to girls at the time of marriage, etc.
TRS expects to benefit from its cash transfer scheme of providing Rs 8,000 per acre for the farmers. But, about 30 to 40 percent of farmers are excluded, as this scheme is not applicable to tenant farmers, tribal farmers who are cultivating forest land and are yet to get rights over it due to non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act, etc.
The concentration of power in the hands of the chief minister has made many ministers and MLAs dummy figures, and has also increased the anti-incumbency sentiment. Thus, there is sporadic discontentment against KCR’s rule, but it’s confined to certain sections only. There is no universal displeasure with the TRS.
The TRS, which earlier supported the demand of Andhra people, has recently retreated. Seemandhra voters play a decisive role in many constituencies, especially in state capital Hyderabad. This is evident from the fact that TDP could get as many as 15 seats in 2014, most of them from Hyderabad. The TRS retreat on the special status demand of Andhra Pradesh has a possibility to alienate Seemandhra voters if opposition effectively capitalizes on it. The Lambadi- Adivasi conflict, the unfulfilled demand for SC categorisation, etc are ticklish for any ruling dispensation to handle. The TRS has also not attempted to address these vexed questions fearing political costs. The discontents thus generated among the aggrieved sections is something for the TRS leadership to ponder over.
Prof.K.Nageshwar – CBN indicates alliance with congress , TDP prepares to defend it’s political shift
Chandrababu Naidu has given firm indication that his party may join hands with congress in the ensuing elections. TDP has been a principal rival of congress since its inception both in the state and national politics. But, this changing political landscape in the state is redefining contours of relationship between TDP and congress. The special status narrative helps TDP to defend its major political shift. However, political circles are yet to agree on the electoral implications for TDP due to its proximity with congress, the party that bifurcated the state against the wishes of people of Seemandhra region.
It is true that the TDP was formed by NT Rama Rao to fight the Congress monopoly . But, it is also equally true that the TDP in its course of existence has seen many changes in the political landscape resulting in moderation and revision of its tactics. The United Front government for which N Chandrababu Naidu was the convener survived with the outside support of congress. Therefore , it need not be unusual if TDP firms up its decision to join hands with the Congress. In fact, today, Congress is no longer principal political rival for the ruling TDP.
Alliances mainly depend upon who is fighting whom. The TDP is pitted against the YSR Congress and the Congress is an insignificant player in the state politics today.
The first argument of the critics of TDP-Congress alliance is that the party has bifurcated the state against the wishes of people of Andhra region. The TDP and its supremo have been cursing the Congress for what they call most arbitrary bifurcation of the state. How can TDP join hands with Congress . But, the fact is that every political party except CPI(M) has supported the bifurcation. The united Andhra Pradesh would not have been divided without the active support of BJP. Yet, the TDP had electoral alliance with BJP in 2014. Still the voters did not mind as they were desperately looking for help from Centre and the BJP was poised to come to power in Delhi.
Similarly, the TDP now argues that the Congress is the only other alternate force to come to power at the Centre. The congress has already extended its full support for the demand for special category status. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi has personally favoured the idea.
The TDP leadership hopes that as the special status narrative fast replaces the bifurcation narrative, the voters would not mind its alliance with Congress. The Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh are expected to herald Congress governments . If this happens, there is a possibility of favourable political climate for the Congress. The TDP hopes to exploit this to defend its possible electoral understanding with congress.
Meanwhile the TDP would immediately benefit from alliance with Congress in Telangana even as the political implication of such an understanding on the mandate in Andhra Pradesh is yet not clear. The TDP cannot survive in Telangana without any electoral alliances. The TDP has almost no choice except to tie up with the Congress.
The TDP is running a high decibel anti BJP campaign. As TRS moves closer to BJP, the TDP hopes to defend its alliance with Congress as a bid to isolate and defeat BJP
The anti Modi rhetoric would help TDP to claim that it would do anything and everything possible to halt or resist Modi juggernaut . In such a crusade, claims TDP even Congress is not an untouchable.
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K Chandrasekhar Rao has once again stressed on his idea of so called federal front comprising of Non-Congress, Non-BJP parties. But, this comes after a long spell of silence and actions contrary to such a front.
In a remarkable alacrity , KCR flew to various cities and met leaders of TMC, DMK and JD(S). Meanwhile SP and JMM chiefs called on the TRS supremo. All have echoed the idea of such a front without congress or BJP. The TRS cadre started chanting the slogan Desh Ki Neta KCR.
But, subsequently the TRS acted quite contrarily much to the dismay of its proclaimed allies in such a front. The TRS abstained in the no confidence vote while all these parties whom KCR had parleys with voted against Modi government. In a more surprising move, TRS supported NDA nominee in the elections to the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. KCR deliberately kept himself away from the mega opposition show on the eve of swearing in of JD(S) leader as Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Such actions in the long spell of silence have strengthened the perception that KCR is more inclined to be a non NDA ally of BJP and a prospective partner post 2019. Quite interestingly KCR met the leaders of the parties which are existing or future allies of congress. The TRS supremo has not lured any regional satrap in the NDA combine or prospective BJP ally into this front. This gave credence to the allegation that he is acting at the behest of Modi-Shah duo. In fact, KCR zealously supported the Modi dispensation’s controversial policies like demonetisation and GST.
Though there is always a space for an alternative to the Congress and BJP, the third front is beset with several problems like the lack of a cohesive leadership and concrete agenda, and the vacillating character of these regional parties.
Since the 1990s, the Congress and BJP accounted for only about half of the Indian political space, with non-Congress, non-BJP parties accounting for the other half. 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. The so-called national parties resort to piggy-back politics and remain as junior partners to their regional allies in many states. For instance, BJP is a junior partner to its respective allies in Punjab, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Bihar etc. The Congress is a junior partner to its respective regional allies in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc. Similarly, both the Congress and the BJP can only be junior partners in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh etc. Thus, a political space certainly exists for a non-Congress, non-BJP front in Indian politics.
However, several questions still remain on the feasibility of such an idea, given the experience of many such attempts in the past.
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.
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.
The so-called third 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 third 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.
The KCR’s talk of federal front is not without a reason. Notwithstanding the recent electoral successes of the BJP in the North East, the master strategist in KCR could perceive Modi’s popularity sliding across the nation. The congress is expected to win assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Thus, any ascent of the Congress would impact Telangana politics much to the disadvantage of the TRS as the former is its principal adversary in state politics. The state Congress is already running a campaign claiming that the TRS is the B-team of BJP. The TRS chief may be eager to shed the negative image of being a non-NDA ally of BJP. Pitching himself firmly in the national political context would help him to successfully challenge the Congress narrative .
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The unconfirmed reports emanating from ruling political circles is that the chief Minister KCR may prefer elections to state legislature along with this round of Assembly elections in the country. The BJP ruled states like Rajasthan , Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh are to go for polls later this year.
Giving credence to these reports Chief Minister KCR said that his party would announce candidates in this September itself. Stating that he is prepared for any eventuality, he refuses to call advancing the dates as premature elections as polls can be held any time during the six months before the completion of the term of the current legislature.
Political sources further claim that KCR discussed this matter with the Prime minister Narendra Modi in his recent meetings.
The TRS supremo has already endorsed the BJP government’s proposal for simultaneous elections to Loksabha and state legislatures. If this proposal is cleared, elections to Telangana Assembly will anyhow be held along with Loksabha elections as per schedule. But, there has not been a political consensus on the proposal mooted by the law Commission. Early decision on this matter may be unlikely.
If simultaneous elections do not take place, the TRS reportedly seeking polls to be advanced to November, December instead of scheduled polls in April, May . There are several reasons to substantiate this political grapevine. Firstly, the TRS is in understanding with MIM in the state and enjoys undeclared bonhomie with BJP at the centre. This bonhomie was no secret in the recent past with TRS voting for NDA nominee in the elections to deputy Chairman of Rajyasabha at a time when united opposition would have trounced the ruling NDA. This was quite contrary to the stand taken by TRS during the no confidence vote. The party abstained from voting than claiming its policy of equidistance.
KCR’s moves in the recent past are quite opposed to his proclaimed stand of forming a federal front opposed to both BJP and the Congress.
Reports indicate that 2019 would be the most polarised elections with BJP raising the emotive issues like the NRC of Assam and the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The cow lynching, the triple talaq, the citizenship amendment bill etc., besides the Ram temple issue triggered by both government and its parivar would certainly create a highly polarised atmosphere in the country in the run-up to 2019 polls. KCR fears that such a polarised atmosphere may cost him the crucial Muslim vote. Muslims account for 12 percent of state’s population. The ruling TRS hopes to appropriate a large part of this vote through its welfare schemes and open understanding with the MIM. Despite uncritical stand towards Modi dispensation. Any dent into this vote may have serious repercussions for the party’s victory. Besides, other sections of society especially dalits are also angered over host of issues that cropped up in the recent past. The Madigas, the sub group in SCs are already up in arms on the TRS for not ensuring justice to them in the form of sub categorisation of scheduled castes.
If elections to state Assembly are delinked from that of Loksabha elections, KCR reportedly feels that he need not pay the bills for discontent over Modi in certain sections.
The government has initiated the ambitious Rythu Bandhu scheme of transferring Rs. 8000 cash per acre whether there are agricultural operation on that land or not. The TRS hopes to encash on this cash transfer scheme. But, if elections are held in April-May, the issues in the agrarian sector will be completely different. The issue of remunerative prices would come to fore. the state has already witnessed rampant farmers’ protests during the last season on falling prices of agricultural produce. This anger would overwhelm the sympathy due to cash support.
The opposition congress is still disunited with too may claimants for the Chief Minister’s gaddhi. The internal feuds in its strongholds like Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar are worrying the Congress. Its attempts to stitch rainbow coalition at the state level is yet to fructify. The TRS thus wants to take the opposition by surprise by going for early polls.
The lurking fear in TRS is that the Congress may win in Rajasthan and the other states that go to polls later this year. The trends already indicate such a possibility. Any such eventuality would create a pro-Congress mood in the nation that may have positive impact for the party in Telangana too much to the detriment to TRS.
Given these factors, the TRS may seek early dissolution of the state Assembly paving the way for elections in the state along with the next round of Assembly elections.
2018 లోనే తెలంగాణాలో అసెంబ్లీ ఎన్నికలు రానున్నాయా? Is Telangana Heading For Early Polls?
రాహుల్ రాకతో కాంగ్రేస్ అధికారంలోకి వస్తుందా? Can Rahul Gandhi Bring Back Congress Rule In Telangana?
Prof K Nageshwar – YSR Congress falters on political strategy, election eve mistakes may prove to be costlier
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who is fighting a bitter battle for power in Andhra Pradesh seems to be squandering away the political opportunities by faltering on political and electoral strategies.
Contrary to the earlier declared stand to oppose NDA nominee in the elections for the deputy chairman of Rajyasabha to protest against the centre’s denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress abstained from voting indirectly contributing to the victory of the candidate of BJP led combine in this crucial elections.
Earlier, Jagan Mohan Reddy was setting the agenda while the TDP supremo was following . Jaganmohan Reddy steadfastly adhered to the special status demand as Naidu ,part of NDA has disowned the demand and settled for special package. But, Jagan persisted with the demand for special status and rejected the special package. As the special status sentiment continued to rouse, Chandrababu Naidu realising his political folly jumped on to the special status bandwagon.
Jaganmohan Reddy was seeking the exit of ministers from state in the Modi led government to exert pressure on the centre. Chandrababu Naidu remaining in NDA rejected the demand calling it a futile exercise. The argument of the TDP was that it could reap the maximum for the state by continuing in the ministry led by Narendra Modi.
But, as things changed, TDP severed its ties with BJP and the ministers walked out of the NDA government. But, Jagan without relenting sought the exit of TDP from NDA. Naidu, who first rebuked the idea ,ultimately did the same giving YS Jagan Mohan Reddy political advantage.
A similar somersault was seen by the TDP on the No-confidence motion against Modi government. Rejecting the demand for no confidence motion, Chandrababu Naidu said that the Modi government is not vulnerable for such pressure tactics as it enjoyed the enough support in Lok Sabha. However, Naidu said that it would only be a last resort as any such move would not yield any positive result. But, the YSR Congress went ahead with its strategy and moved no confidence motion in Lok Sabha. Perturbed by this development, the chief Minister told the state legislative Assembly that his party would support no confidence motion irrespective of who proposes it.
But, by the next morning realising the political costs of such a move, the TDP altered its stand and rejected the YSR Congress motion. Instead, the TDP moved its own no confidence motion which anyhow did not come to the house during the budget session. Thus, until then from special status to no confidence motion, YSR Congress was leading in dictating the agenda in the state politics. Despite being in power, the TDP was only reacting to the proactive moves of the opposition YSR Congress.
But, later things seems to be changing as Jagan is kicking self goals one after the other.
In a frantic bid to further score over the TDP, Jaganmohan Reddy announced his decision to seek the resignations of his party MP’s in protest against the central government evading no confidence motion during the budget session on some or other pretext. However, the delayed acceptance of the resignations by the Speaker and the failure of the YSR Congress to get its MP’s resignations accepted made elections not possible . This has created political opinion that YSR Congress MPs had a clandestine deal with BJP to avoid the elections as saffron brigade too not ready for by polls.
The TDP successfully harped over it to create an adverse opinion on YSR Congress that it is hobnobbing with the Modi regime. Already there is a perception that YSR Congress is soft towards BJP . Even in its polemics on special status, the Jagan’s party was primarily targeting the TDP without any serious attack on BJP.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s unambiguous support to NDA candidates in Presidential and vice presidential elections further strengthened such a political perception about YSR congress alleged relationship with BJP, the party that blatantly denied special status.
In politics optics certainly matter. More so in a media rich political environment. Thus, the YSR Congress certainly lost such a perception battle.
Added to this Jaganmohan Reddy’s unwarranted comments on the personal life of Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan were politically disastrous. . At a time when the actor turned politician was seriously attacking Chandrababu Naidu , Jagan should have acted intelligently to get a favourable space in the Pawan’s massive fan following. More specifically, Jagan’s unwanted utterances have certainly incurred the wrath of Kapus who constitute a sizable voting in many constituencies.
Within few days of this episode, Jaganmohan Reddy made controversial comments on the demand for Kapu reservations. The YSR Congress leader who earlier wanted Tamil Nadu type formula to accommodate Kapus said that he cannot do anything on the issue as it is in the hands of centre and the Supreme Court verdict does not allow for more than 50 percent reservations. Though, Jagan tried to do the damage control and pacify the Kapus, the strategy has certainly boomeranged. The TDP took an unusual advantage of this to bolster the image of their party among Kapus.
Political observers feel that Jagan did not make that statement on Kapus by mistake. It was a clever strategy to allure OBC voters. But, as his retreat on Kapus did not make any great positive impact on OBCs, Jagan was forced to reiterate his support for kapu quota.
Besides, Jagan’s resignation strategy has also proved to be counterproductive with the Speaker taking up the no confidence motion in the monsoon session. The TDP’s motion was taken up and the party was in the limelight leaving the YSR Congress former MP’s to protests outside the Parliament that failed to make any impact.
Thus, Jagan Mohan Reddy seems to be lacking in sound political and electoral strategy even though he was backed by likes of Prashant Kishor in strategy making.
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కాంగ్రేస్ తో స్నేహానికి చంద్రబాబు సరే || Prof K Nageshwar On TDP Voting For Congress
BJP తో జగన్ మరోసారి దోస్తీ చేసారా? | Prof K Nageshwar On YSR Congress Not Opposing BJP
YS జగన్ ఐదు సెల్ఫ్ గోల్స్||Prof K Nageshwar on 5 self goals of YS Jagan
కాపు రిజర్వేషన్లపై జగన్ చెప్పింది నిజమా?||Jagan on Kapu Reservations||
జగన్ ఆదేశించాడు , చంద్రబాబు పాటిస్తున్నాడు|Jagan sets agenda,Chandrababu follows
The leaders of YSR Congress are crying foul over the other opposition parties like the Congress, Jana Sena and the Left parties refusing to extend support to the bandh call given by YS Jaganmohan Reddy to protest against the BJP led central government denial of special status and the state government led by TDP failing to get such a status for Andhra Pradesh.
Firstly, there is a difference in the stand taken by the congress on one side and the Left parties and the Jana Sena on the other. While the congress took a hostile stand and opposed the bandh call given by the YSR Congress, the CPI and the CPI(M) along with the Jana Sena though did not take a hostile stand , have refused to endorse the bandh call .
The YSR Congress never took any initiative in the last four years to build all opposition crusade against the party in power. Being the major opposition party , it was the moral responsibility of YSR Congress to invite a joint opposition campaign against the TDP government. However for the reasons best known to it, the YSR Congress has all along been taking a unilateral stand and refused to rally the other opposition parties. This was despite the YSR congress supporting the bandh call given by the Left parties and the civil society groups on the special status issue.
The politics behind it is simple. The YSR Congress feels that the special status would deliver political dividend. Therefore, the party wishes to monopolise any anti establishment sentiment in its favour.
Similarly, this time too, the YSR Congress has not consulted the Congress , Jana Sena or the Left parties before announcing its bandh call. After, calling for the bandh, the YSR Congress reportedly called the leaders of the Left parties to seek their support. Such display of politician one-upmanship might have infuriated other opposition parties and thus they refused to join in any anti government protests , especially planned struggles under the leadership of YSR Congress. Instead, these opposition parties would have preferred joint opposition struggles for which the YSR congress is not ready for.
Meanwhile, the congress feels that the special status would be an opportunity for its revival after it got decimated due to bifurcation of the state. The party is trying hard to sell a narrative to voters that it alone can deliver special status as the neither of the regional parties can form a government at the centre to accord such a status to Andhra Pradesh. Therefore, the congress does not wish to give any advantage to YSR congress in this regard.
Besides, the Congress with its strategy of Ghar Vapsi plans to strengthen. The former chief Minister and the protagonist of united state Kiran Kumar Reddy has already come back to Congress. The Andhra Pradesh Congress leadership feels that many would do so in near future. The congress can only hope to get the voting and the cadre from YSR Congress as it is the party that has poached the grand old party post bifurcation. Therefore any truck with the YSR Congress is considered by the Congress as defeating its attempts to get back the voting and the cadre lost to YS Jaganmohan Reddy.
On the other hand, the Left parties are trying to build an alternate political platform opposing the four parties, the TDP, YSR Congress, the BJP and the Congress. The Left has invited Janasena and the Lok Satta besides other smaller groups and individuals to join such an alternate political platform. As the bandh is just before the ensuing elections, the Left prefers to demarcate from the YSR Congress though it is not averse to join hands with others on public issues. In fact, the Left parties have postponed the activities scheduled for the bandh day.
Thus, as the special status issue assumes political character, every political party would like to see any protest on the issue from a political and electoral prism only.
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The Ghar Vapsi of former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and the protagonist of united state has certainly enthused the leaders and cadres of beleaguered Congress. The party vanquished by the what is believed to be the arbitrary bifurcation of the state by the Congress led UPA government in 2014 see in this development a hope for revival. The party saw an exodus of leaders and cadres after its worst ever debacle at the hustings.
But, what would be the real political impact of Kiran’s home coming on the political prospects of the party in the run-up to the 2019 elections is almost a foregone conclusion.
The people of Andhra Pradesh who so strongly punished the Congress in 2014 seem to be not ready to forgive and forget the Congress . The only hope for the party is its promise of special status to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.
The congress has the credibility when it promises special status to Andhra Pradesh for more than one reason. The BJP led NDA has blatantly belied the expectations of people of the state when it denied the promised special status. The half hearted implementation of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh state bifurcation act has further infuriated the people who see special status as the main aspect that can rebuild the state. It was Manmohan Singh led congress government that promised special status. Rahul Gandhi has declared his unequivocal support to the demand for special status and participated personally in the agitations for such a status. The Congress has even declared that Rahul Gandhi would sign on the special status file the moment he assumes the office of Prime Minister if the Congress is voted to power.
The return of Kiran Kumar Reddy at a time when the party is only witnessing desertions is certainly a positive factor. But, this alone would not gather the much required momentum to revive the party that has been almost decimated in the state. Yet, the party still has few leaders who have the strength at the grassroots level and polled significant votes even during the adversity of 2014 . The congress hopes to multiply such leaders encashing on the return of Kiran Kumar Reddy .
But, the party’s voting tally has plunged to such a low level in 2014 and any significant improvement could mean much more voting but not a significant number of seats.
However, the congress showing signs of revival would like to use this to bargain allies especially the ruling TDP . The TDP has also shown such gestures. The presence of Chandrababu Naidu in the Bengaluru meet along the Congress top leadership is an indication that the TDP is not so averse to doing business with Congress. But, will it have an alliance or understanding with congress before 2019 polls is again a million dollar question.
Kiran Kumar Reddy who headed the resistance against bifurcation could get political stature. But he does not enjoy any mass support evident from the poor performance of his party Jai Samaikyandhra Party in the 2014 elections.
The Congress has to build a further political narrative around special status. It should attract more leaders to return to Congress and finally it should rope in allies . This three pronged strategy would only help the party’s revival .
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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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu dreams of transforming the state especially its capital Amaravati into Singapore. But , Andhra Pradesh and Singapore have striking differences which makes emulating the model a difficult task. However the state can learn a lot from Singapore. But, there seems to be more talk than action in this regard.
Singapore is a tiny island. Can it be compared with Andhra Pradesh?
The Economist attributes Singapore’s success to clean government, orderliness and efficiency good public services despite low taxes etc. On the contrary, rampant corruption, unacceptably high levels of bureaucratic red tapism, inefficiency, low productivity of public services continue to rock Andhra Pradesh.
Singapore faces a serious challenge due to ageing population while Andhra Pradesh enjoys a demographic dividend with more working age population.
The labour force participation rates for both rural and urban areas in Andhra Pradesh are higher when compared with the all India level. Singapore is a resource poor country. It doesn’t have enough water. But, Andhra Pradesh is a resource-rich state compared to Singapore. Strong natural and human resource base can help us do much more than Singapore.
Singapore has no hinterland. But, Andhra Pradesh has vast areas away from the coast and banks of rivers. This makes Singapore and Andhra Pradesh not fully comparable – both in terms of challenges and opportunities. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), Singapore enjoys a budget surplus of 5.7 per cent of GDP. But, Andhra Pradesh that aspires to transform itself on the lines of this island nation cannot be oblivious to its ballooning budget deficit supposed to have been aggravated by bifurcation.
Singapore could emerge as a global hub due to a host of factors like rule of law, English speaking population, etc. Andhra Pradesh with about one-third illiterate population is no way nearer to Singapore.
Singapore is considered as gateway to Asia. But, Andhra Pradesh with its 974-km long coast line is yet to harness it to be a logistics hub and gateway. Singapore houses Asia’s busiest container ports besides huge refinery and petro chemical complex. Andhra Pradesh with many ports already in operation and many more to come along with biggest hydro carbon base in the Krishna Godavari basin can certainly learn a lot from Singapore.
The Government of Singapore claims to make Singapore a city in garden. But, Andhra Pradesh government is accused of converting lush green agricultural and horticultural fields into concrete jungles. The challenge for Andhra Pradesh, therefore, is how to reconcile development with environment. Therefore, it should not just learn from Singapore lessons in metropolitan management but also in green economy.
Unlike Andhra Pradesh which has a large hinterland, Singapore is a city-state. Still it is an international hub for commerce, finance, shipping, travel etc. Andhra Pradesh can always aspire to emulate this model of Singapore to become global services hub. Singapore ranks very high on several human development indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality rate, per capita income etc.
But, the Raghuram Rajan Committee (2013), while capturing the real picture of underdevelopment in different states – based on different underdevelopment indicators such as monthly per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, household amenities, poverty rate, female literacy, financial inclusion and connectivity – categorised Andhra Pradesh as a less developed state.
The White Paper on Human Resources and Social Development in Andhra Pradesh states: “The Human Development Indices of Andhra Pradesh have not showed a great progress in terms of relative rankings among the states.”
Therefore, the first thing Andhra Pradesh needs to do if it wants to emulate Singapore is to substantially improve its social infrastructure to significantly progress on human development parameters. Andhra Pradesh does not face the two serious problems Singapore faces: acute shortage of space and fast ageing population.
Since independence, the geographic area of Singapore expanded by over one fifth from 58,000 hectares to nearly 72,000 hectares. This could happen by filling in the sea with imported sand. The country plans to add yet another 5,600 hectares by 2030. Andhra Pradesh has no such problems to confront.
Singapore has a strong manufacturing sector with diversified services. It is a business and finance centre and logistics hub. The country has no hydro carbon resources. Yet, it is the world’s major producer of refined oil for export. Singapore has even expanded on value chain. For instance, it made an impressive foray into electronics.
In 1980’s itself, the country accounted for 50 per cent of hard disk drives shipped globally. Singapore now plans to concentrate on advanced manufacturing, aero space and logistics, applied health sciences, smart urban solutions, and financial services. Surely, Andhra Pradesh has many things to learn from Singaporean economic growth model.
There are certain things which we should not learn from Singapore, too. With increasing population, which now stands at 5.5 million and is expected to reach 7 million by 2030, is facing a severe stress due to scarce land. Yet, the Government of Singapore allocated nearly 2 per cent of its scarce land resources to golf courses.
Singapore government launched a persuasive campaign to increase fertility. Parenthood was made more attractive by offering baby bonuses.
Ignoring the social and demographic reality of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu urged the young couples in the state to give birth to more children. Such a blind attraction perhaps towards Singapore is unwarranted. Singapore, perhaps, is the only advanced democracy in the world which never saw a change in the ruling party in a half a century history.
The ruling party in Andhra Pradesh would certainly love to be so, but the state with its vibrant polity can ill-afford this luxury .Singapore has many features which Andhra Pradesh should not emulate too. There are restrictions on free speech. The media is tamed. There is no credible opposition in Singapore. However, Singapore observers praise it for high standards of public life.
But, despite multi party political system, reasonably free media, freedom with no restrictions whatsoever, we could not achieve higher standards of public life. Thus freedom and development need not be mutually contradictory.
Amidst high emotions and ongoing political struggle against Modi government for denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh, one may perhaps be of an opinion that centre has done injustice to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh and helped Telangana more. But, the reality is otherwise.
The Telangana state was also meted out injustice under the Modi dispensation. But, barring few occasional statements, the political system in Telangana especially the ruling TRS is in no mood to take on centre head-on. In the absence of wide spread emotions on this injustice, even the opposition is not so serious in fighting with the centre.
The United Progressive alliance (UPA) government sanctioned the Information Technology and Investment Region (ITIR) to Hyderabad in 2013. Hyderabad is already a global hub of IT and ITES sector. Telangana accounts for over 15 percent of total software exports from India. Global and Indian IT majors have set up their operations in Hyderabad. Given this promising potential, Hyderabad certainly deserves such a project. The ITIR would bring in lot of technical, civic infrastructure. But, the NDA government has cancelled the ITIR for Hyderabad.
It is normally a practice to grant at least one irrigation project with national status so that the centre would take up the project. The new state of Andhra Pradesh certainly deserves Polavaram and the same is incorporated in the state reorganisation act itself. But, the new state of Telangana has been demanding national status to Kaleshwaram project. It may be recalled here that Sushma Swaraj during her election campaign to Mahbubnagar promised national status to Palamuru-Ranga Reddy Lift Irrigation scheme. But, this did not happen.
As Kadapa was promised steel plant, a similar promise was made to Telangana to set up steel plant at Bayyaram. But, now the centre is claiming that both Kadapa and Bayyaram steel plants are not feasible. The Telangana government is seeking the setting up of this steel plant by supplying iron ore from Bailadila mines in Chhattisgarh, if the available ore at Bayyaram is not of the required quality.
Several educational institutions due for Telangana like the Tribal University, IIM and National Institute of Designs (NID) have not been sanctioned. A request to set up IIIT at Karimnagar is also pending with the centre.
The division of High Court is still elusive even after four years of bifurcation.
The state government has sought fiscal support to the flagship programmes like Mission Kakatiya and Mission Bhagiratha. But, there is no positive support from the central government despite Chief minister enjoying bonhomie with the Prime Minister.
The centre has promised to provide funds for the development of backward districts in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Similarly even the Telangana was promised industrial incentives. All these promises of bifurcation remained unimplemented.
Telangana has less penetration of railway connectivity as compared to national average as per the state government’s memorandum to the centre. The Railway minister in his first NDA budget has promised to chalk out a plan for the development of railway network in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Even after four years, no such plans are underway.
Even every state is normally provided with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). There has been a demand to develop the NIMS campus at Bibinagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad into AIIMS. But, Telangana is discriminated in this regard too.
Embarking upon Yatra, the state BJP chief Dr.K.Laxman asserted that BJP is the real alternative to TRS in Telangana. The ruling TRS leaders pooh poohed the claims of the saffron party. Amidst these claims and counter claims, what exactly is the political reality in Telangana?
Notwithstanding the fact that the BJP is not even a significant player in the Telangana politics, there is nothing wrong if a party aspires for power in any State. But the moot question is whether the ground reality is fertile for the BJP to translate its dreams into reality.
The BJP could stitch together a formidable socio-political coalition that could make a perfect chemistry in the states it has own from Assam to Uttar Pradesh. For instance, understanding its limitation quite effectively, the BJP roped in Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Rabha, Tiwa and other plains tribal organisations. Similarly the BJP allied with even smaller caste based political parties like Apna Dal and IPFT in Tripura. But, BJP fails to effect any such social engineering in Telangana.
The BJP is clueless on how to challenge the redoubtable TRS whose government clearly enjoys pro-incumbency. The political situation shows no signs of TRS retreat, leaving no space for new aspirants. The BJP has no such political or social coalition to anchor in Telangana. The BJP leadership is announcing from rooftops that it would go alone in the State in 2019.
The party has already divorced the TDP. There is no prospective ally for TDP in Telangana. Even TJS founded by Kodandaram is not interested in allying with BJP.
In fact, the BJP State leadership is caught in a typical Hamletian dilemma of ‘To be or not to be’ in regard to its relations with TRS. This is precisely the reason why a section of BJP Telangana leadership displays political faintheartedness in questioning the TRS government. This deprives the BJP of any advantage from possible anti-incumbency in Telangana.
Nothing can be said in finale about the electoral tie-up with TRS. In case the party chooses to go with TRS in 2019, the BJP cannot realise its dreams of coming to power in Telangana as it would only be a junior partner. But such a possibility exists today only in the realm of imagination, not even speculation.
States like Assam where BJP could achieve spectacular win presents an altogether distinct social and political milieu which has no comparison with that of Telangana. The unstopped illegal infiltration from neighbouring Bangladesh and unrelenting migration is effecting a substantial demographic change much to the chagrin of the local people.
This divisive situation is superimposed by ethnic strife that has often had violent manifestation. This situation resulted in competitive polarisation of the electorate not just on religious basis but on linguistic and ethnic identities. The indigenous people were fearing marginalisation in their own State. Thus preserving this identity continues to be an explosive electoral issue which BJP could successfully exploit.
The Telangana social landscape has no similarity with the prevailing situation in Assam or Tripura. Muslims account for over 12 % of Telangana population. But there is no such abnormal surge in the population of Muslims in the State, as it is not a border State to experience unprecedented migration of people belonging to a particular religious community. Unlike in Telangana, the ethnic and indigenous groups in Assam fear a demographic onslaught making the issue politically sensitive.
On the other hand, Muslim population in Telangana poses no such challenge to the Hindu population in the State. Besides, Telangana, especially Hyderabad culture, is often described as Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb signifying peaceful coexistence and integration of Hindu-Muslim culture
The Congress in Assam failed to arrive at an understanding with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) that largely represents Muslims, fearing a Hindu backlash. This costly mistake proved to be dearer for the party as the anti-BJP vote split. On the contrary the congress in Telangana is trying hard to build a grand opposition coalition to take on TRS.
The BJP will not be the chief beneficiary of any possible anti incumbency against TRS government as Congress is the main opposition. Most of the Assam’s BJP leadership is made up of former All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) that led the Assam identity movement. The chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was also a former AASU President and a former AGP leader.
The BJP could also induct prominent Congress dissident Himanta Biswa Sarma into the party fold. In fact, these new comers into the party led the BJP campaign in Assam thus bridging the serious leadership deficit in the state party. But, the BJP is unlikely to find any such popular leaders from any other party to lure. The plethora of indigenous leaders is unlikely to allow any such political adoption.
Leader matters a lot in Indian politics. The Delhi, Bihar, Bengal, etc. and even Assam mandates clearly depict the importance of leader in marshalling a victory. The BJP could find in Sonowal an accepted leader who remains an icon of Assamese and ethnic identity politics. On the contrary, though politics of Telangana is still deeply influenced by an identity of some other kind, the State BJP failed to attract any prominent leader of Telangana movement.
In fact, the party could not reap rich dividends, despite being an active partner in Telangana movement. Without its support in Parliament, the dream of separate State would not have become a reality for the people of Telangana. But, the ruling TRS is headed by the architect of Telangana movement. The TRS victory is primarily the mandate the Chief Minister KCR got from the people.
KCR’s political stature and iconic image have in fact got further reinforced. Thus, the entire opposition, leave alone the BJP, has no leader to match the charisma of KCR whereas an appealing Sonowal led the BJP against discredited Tarun Gogoi of Congress in Assam. Barring a miracle, the BJP’s hopes of emerging as an alternative in Telangana in 2019 remain a figment of imagination, though the politics have a remarkable character of changing colours swiftly.
KCR challenged opposition to be ready for early polls. There are political reasons why Telangana CM is expressing willingness for early polls. The Telangana chief Minister makes this statement after meeting the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi has already pitched for simultaneous elections to Parliament and Assemblies indicating a possibility of holding Parliament polls along with the elections to state Assemblies in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Notwithstanding the predictions about advancing polls , KCR’s remarks assume political significance in an election year.
The opposition camp is yet to be consolidated with TDP unsure of allying with congress. The Congress in Telangana has been toying with the idea of uniting anti KCR forces to the extent possible. The state Congress hopes to rally TDP , Telangana Jana Samithi headed by Kodandaram and the CPI. The CPI(M) has already distanced itself from such a possible opposition combine. However, such a Bihar type Mahagatbandhan is yet to take shape . The question of whether or not the TDP ally with Congress does not depend upon Telangana politics. Though the Telangana TDP seems to be keen on forging an alliance with Congress, ultimately, this depends solely on the politics in Andhra Pradesh.
The congress party is still not poll ready with the party high command yet to complete organisational churning by uniting multiple factions within the party. There are too many claimants for the post of state congress chief , though the political situation is still not ripe for the Congress to comeback in the state. The party has to reconcile not only between different groups within the party, but even has to take along the newly inducted leaders. This will certainly take some time . Perhaps, the chief minister wishes to attack the opposition before it can mobilise its forces and get ready for early polls.
The Rythu Bandhu scheme which meant a direct transfer of rupees 8000 per acre for two cropping seasons is already underway. TRS is confident that such a massive transfer of Rs 12,000 crores to farmers will yield rich electoral dividend.
Though there is sporadic discontent in certain sections, there is no visible anti incumbency against KCR government making him battle ready.
If the elections are held as per schedule, the issue of remunerative prices for farmers would come to fore. Now, the government enjoys the positive image due to its capital support scheme. The ruling party , perhaps, fears that this favourable atmosphere would be lost once if the farmers do not get better prices for their produce. The last season saw sporadic farmers protest over the issue of remunerative prices.
Besides, there is also discontent among other sections like the unemployed youth etc. The ruling party enjoys the advantage of this discontent not evolving into an anti incumbency. The TRS wants to reap the harvest before any such thing happens.
The speaker accepted the resignations of YSR Congress MPs. But, she has delayed it to the extent that there will not be any by elections as per the section 151A of the Representation of the People’s Act. In the process, the speaker violated the spirit of the supreme court judgement in Election Commission of India Vs Bajrang Bahadur Sing(Para 69) of 2015. This delayed decision of the speaker gives credence to the criticism that the YSR Congress has a clandestine understanding with the BJP.
As per the section 151A of the Representation of People’s act , there cannot be any by -elections now. In fact, there was more than one and a half months time for the Speaker to accept the resignations so that the by elections could be held. The section 151 A states Time limit for filling vacancies referred to in sections 147, 149, 150 and 151. Notwithstanding anything contained in section 147, section 149, section 150 and section 151, a bye-election for filling any vacancy referred to in any of the said sections shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy:
Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply if-
(a) the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is less than one year.
In fact, the Speaker acted in such a way that the said section will operate and by-elections will not be held in the five seats vacated by the resignation of YSR Congress MPs.
The speaker should have considered the apex court judgements to speedily act on the resignations. The Supreme Court in Election Commission of India Vs Bajrang Bahadur Sing (2015) said , “The question, therefore, is as to how to reconcile the two apparently conflicting constitutional obligations…(Para 69)”.
The first one is the Speaker’s obligation to decide on the resignation submitted by the members. The second is the Election Commission’s obligation to hold the election within a period of six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy.
Thus, the supreme Court’s judgement clearly puts the obligation on the office of the august Constitutional institution , Speaker to speedily decide on the resignation so that the Election Commission of India would be in a position to discharge its Constitutional obligation to hold the elections within a period of six months if the Lok Sabha seat falls vacant on the Speaker accepting the resignation.
Thus, the Speaker’s delayed decision is a clear violation of the representation of the People’s act and the Supreme Court judgement in Bajrang Bahadur Sing case.
Then the next is the political question. Why did the Speaker act so? There can be two possible explanations for this.
Though, the office of Speaker is a politically neutral one, everyone knows that the reality is not so. Speakers and Governors acted in the interests of the party they belonged to before occupying those august offices.
Therefore, it is not wrong to conclude that the ruling BJP wanted to avoid by-elections. The TDP ‘s allegation is that the YSR Congress has a clandestine deal with BJP. The delayed decision of the Speaker to avoid by-elections is therefore an illustration of this deal. This cannot be ruled out due to the suspicious behaviour of YSR Congress towards BJP in the past too which was explained through these columns in the past.
The second possible explanation is that the BJP has to contest these five seats if by-elections are held. In fact, in alliance with TDP , the BJP contested in the two of these five seats in 2014. Thus, the by-elections would expose the real strength of BJP. The political trend is quite obvious . The BJP would be decimated in all these five seats if by-elections are held. Perhaps, the BJP cannot welcome such a humiliation in the run up to 2019 elections that would have an implication for the national politics.
The third possible explanation is that the BJP does not want to give an advantage to its estranged ally, the TDP. The TDP has nothing to lose if by-elections are held. It has everything to gain. If the YSR Congress retains all the five seats, it does not send any message that would hurt TDP . But, if the YSR Congress looses any of them or wins with reduced margins, the TDP will have a political scoring point for 2019.
Therefore, the TDP will not hesitate for by-elections. Therefore, the YSR Congress allegation that the TDP with its secret understanding with BJP ensured that the speaker delayed decision does not hold water.
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Despite claims of non-congress, non-BJP front, TRS chief is clearly unwilling to be part of any united opposition when it is in direct confrontation with Narendra Modi. Even when the four non congress, non BJP chief ministers went to express solidarity with protesting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, KCR though in Delhi preferred to stay away. In fact, the bitter rivals, the Trinamool chief Minister of West Bengal and the Marxist chief Minister of Kerala were together to express solidarity with the Delhi chief minister. In fact, Congress chief Ministers were not present for KCR to find it difficult to join in a bid to rally the non congress , non BJP parties. KCR met Kumara Swamy and Mamata Banerjee and expressed his willingness to work with even Chandrababu Naidu calling him a good friend. The CPI(M) to which Vijayan belongs is also steadfastly opposing both BJP and Congress and refused to join any front led by Congress . Thus, even of the four non-Congress , non-BJP chief Ministers jointly calling on the Delhi chief Minister would have been a perfect setting for the unity of such like minded parties. KCR not being part of it only indicates that he is not ready to join any opposition crusade against Narendra Modi .
Both the congress and BJP are critical of AAP chief minister. As per the non congress non BJP thesis Kejriwal should be the preferred ally of KCR. But, he still chose not to support Kejriwal’s anti centre crusade though it will not in any way benefit congress, his principal rival in Telangana.
In fact, while launching the idea of non-Congress , non-BJP front, KCR came down heavily on the centre retaining all the powers at the cost of states. The agitation of Kejriwal is against the highhandedness of the governor who is acting as per the instructions of central government. Both the Congress and BJP supported the demand for full statehood to Delhi when they were in opposition. Now, the AAP is also making a similar demand. Why should any regional party have objection in supporting the demand ?
KCR also stayed away from grand show of opposition unity on the eve of Kumaraswamy’s swearing in, of course on the pretext of his difficulty of sharing dais with congress leadership when he is fighting with party in his state. However, he went to Bengaluru a day before to greet Kumaraswamy . In fact it was the invitation of JD(S) that brought many opposition parties together. The presence of one party need not deter other to join such a congregation.
Despite TRS government having reservations over 15th Finance commission terms of reference , the Telangana government refused to join forces with other opposition governments on this crucial issue concerning federalism. The Telangana Finance minister said that the TRS government feels that many of the terms of reference of 15th Finance Commission would harm the interests of the state and it would directly communicate its reservations to the Centre .
All this not only creates a perception that KCR is an undeclared ally of BJP, but exposes the duplicity on his idea of Non-Congress, Non-BJP front. His ambivalent stand gives credence to the allegations of his critics that he is acting at the behest of BJP and mooting such a front of regional parties only to win them away from the congress. His critics have been pointing out that KCR is meeting the present and possible allies of Congress like the JD(S), DMK, TMC, JMM but so far has not met the sulking allies of BJP like Shiv Sena, or PDP or Akalidal or JD(U). The latest development further strengthens such criticism on TRS chief.
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The congress in Telangana in a frantic bid to counter KCR gave a new slogan: Vote for TRS is Vote for BJP. This is a clear strategy to woo minority vote in a state where Muslims constitute 12 percent of population and decisive in about 25 to 30 of 119 constituencies. The TRS plans to have a sway over Muslim vote with the promise of 12 percent reservations and tacit understanding with MIM.
But, studies in the behaviour of Muslim vote clearly reveal that there is no such en-block Muslim voting in every state. In communally polarised atmosphere and where BJP is a strong force, Muslims tend to vote strategically for party that can defeat the saffron party. But, in other states and situations, Muslim voter like any other voter exercises one’s voting preferences looking at a host of factors like party, candidate , issues etc.
The Telangana Muslims are concentrated in Hyderabad and few other towns. The politics associated with this community varies from state capital and districts. The MIM determines the behaviour of Muslim vote in Hyderabad while it can go in any way in other towns. Due to the stand of MIM for a united state, the Telangana movement has not seen sizable participation of Muslim electorate. Thus, the TRS failed to penetrate its sentiment into this segment of population strongly as it wishes to do. Thus, the Congress which traditionally rallied Muslims would wish to retain their support. But, the Congress is wary of TRS luring Muslim voters due to its proximity with MIM and promise of quota. Thus, it invented the new slogan of alleged closeness of pink party with the saffron brigade to alienate Muslim vote from TRS .
In a rather similar strategy, the TDP in Andhra Pradesh calls its rivals allies of BJP to turn the tide of discontent over Narendra Modi onto the YSR Congress. The TDP could successfully establish a perception that BJP has done grave injustice to Andhra Pradesh by denying special status and failing to fulfil the assurances in the bifurcation act. Chandrababu Naidu even lists Pawan Kalyan and former CBI joint director Lakshminarayana ,who, recently left service probably to plunge into politics as BJP’s friends.
YSR Congress tactical errors also helped TDP to accomplish its strategy. Jagan’s unequivocal support to BJP during Presidential and Vice presidential elections, alleged parley of YSR Congress leaders with BJP , Jagan’s luke warm criticism of Modi dispensation despite strong negative sentiment among Andhra Pradesh people on BJP etc., further helped TDP to reinforce such apperception that YSR Congress is working at the behest of BJP.
Dalits and minorities are strong vote base of YSR Congress. The TDP by clubbing YSR Congress and BJP would also like to lure away these sections of voters away from Jaganmohan Reddy .
However, in the telugu states where BJP is not a force to reckon with, will such a strategy of congress and TDP to paint BJP as a political untouchable really work?
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Chandrababu Naidu government completes four years of rule and enters the final phase of his term that shall have a serious impact on the verdict 2019. It is certainly right moment to take stock of his performance and failures.
Chandrababu Naidu was catapulted to power in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh with great hopes and expectations. A government is judged not just on performance per se but it would be evaluated against the expectations from it. This is evident from the fact that relatively better performing Chief Ministers also lose the polls whereas less effective CMs retain the mandate.
Therefore, the biggest challenge for Naidu would be to perform up to the expectations.
Chief Minister relatively enjoys better rating as compared to his MLAs and MPs. Many TDP MLAs and MPs face serious anti incumbency. Corruption charges especially allegations of sand mining mafia galore. The children of some of these MLAs and MPs are even going berserk in many constituencies.
In his earlier stint as chief minister in the united state, Naidu was known and even criticised for keeping party aloof from governance. But, now, there is an unprecedented politicisation of governance much to the disadvantage of TDP. There is a wide spread feeling in the party, political circles and even among voters that Naidu is failing to keep a control over the party apparatus. In fact, he succumbed to the party . The janma bhoomi committees let loose on people is an illustration of this. The Janma bhoomi committees comprising mainly of TDP workers decide the beneficiaries of government welfare schemes and even the developmental priorities. There is a simmering anger against these committees.
Chandrababu Naidu has to swim against the electoral arithmetic. The TDP could scrape through in 2014 with a slender margin of only about two percent. The BJP and the Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena were with the TDP . Now , that these two parties taking a strident anti TDP position, Naidu would certainly find it difficult to compensate for the losses. He cannot ally with Congress at least in the pre poll scenario. The left parties especially, the CPI(M) are in no mood to ally with him given his vacillation over the BJP.
Though Naidu launched a blistering campaign over the special status by withdrawing his ministers from Modi ministry followed by the exit from NDA, Naidu’s somersaults on the issue seriously question his commitment and credibility. Will the opposition succeed in exposing Chandrababu Naidu vacillating stand on special status. As the politics of Andhra Pradesh are highly polarised between TDP and YSR Congress and Jagan Mohan Reddy also facing questions on his relations with BJP, Naidu could continue with his self proclaimed crusade over special status.
Kapus are a numerically strong community that has decisive influence in as many as about 40 constituencies. The Kapus voted for TDP in large numbers for the first time in 2014 . The actor turned politician Chiranjeevi, who incidentally belongs to Kapu community formed Praja Rajyam party and merged it with Congress. This fiasco left Kapus annoyed and in the wake of bifurcation anger against Congress, this crucial vote largely shifted to TDP. Naidu’s promise of quotas for them has further helped him to rally Kapus. But, the promise of reservations still remain elusive and the Kapu vote started drifting away from TDP though the party still enjoys support of a majority of this vote.
Several promises of Naidu like the unemployment allowance, industries in every district, tackling the jobs crisis, partial implementation of loan waiver etc. can prove to be challenge.
The spectacular hopes generated by Naidu on building a world class capital in Amravati has certainly helped him to win the mandate. But, nothing seems to be happening on the ground . The Polavaram irrigation project which is claimed to be lifeline of Andhra Pradesh still remains to be completed. But , Naidu is trying hard to covert this threat into an opportunity by appealing to voters that they need to vote for him if the capital, Polavaram and reconstruction of the beleaguered state have to be completed.
The unprecedented focus on capital Amaravati can lead to alienation of voters in Rayalaseema. Region where opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy enjoys fairly larger support.
The ruling party is also facing groupism in several districts with even his cabinet ministers leading the rival groups. Chandrababu Naidu in a frantic bid to weaken the opposition has encouraged mass defection of MLAs from YSR Congress to TDP . Naidu was only hoping to adjust the old and the new leaders as the number of constituencies would increase as per the state bifurcation Act. But, Modi government failed to yield as the BJP is not going to benefit from the exercise. This makes it difficult for Naidu to accommodate both loyal TDP leaders and the turn-coats. This will further intensify the group rivalry within the party.