With less than a month to go for the Telangana Elections, things are slowly heating up in the state. While the ruling TRS has issued B forms to its candidates, Mahakutami allies the Congress and TDP have each released their first list of candidates.
The Mahakutami or grand alliance comprising of the Congress, TDP, CPI and TJS have in the past few weeks been caught up in the seat sharing arrangements, even as the TRS was quick to get off the blocks having begun campaigning. So even while TJS’s Prof Kodandaram and CPI were threatening to pull out of the alliance unhappy with the allocation of seats, TRS’s K Tarakarama Rao (KTR) was quick to take a jibe at the Mahakutami at a public meeting stating, "By the time they issue seats, we will distribute sweets for our victory."
Much of TRS’ campaign has revolved around caretaker CM K Chandrasekhar Rao and his family members – son KTR, daughter Kavitha and nephew Harish Rao. The Congress, on the other hand, has roped in party chief Rahul Gandhi in the first phase, and is relying on local faces such as state president Uttam Kumar Reddy, Revanth Reddy and a few others.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP President Chandrababu Naidu, who has been meeting opposition leaders across the country in an effort to shore up an anti-BJP alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, is, however, yet to kickstart his campaign in Telangana. The December 7 polls in Telangana are being viewed as a do or die battle for the TDP in the state, with many of its leaders defecting to the ruling TRS.
Party sources have told TNM that a schedule of their leaders' campaign tour in Telangana will soon be released once the final candidates list is out. In the meantime, the TDP’s campaign is relying on state chief L Ramana, senior leaders Revuri Prakash Reddy and Nannuri Narsireddy, who is known for his oratory skills.
Speaking to TNM Revuri Prakash Reddy, senior TDP leader and contestant at Warangal West Assembly Constituency said that a campaign map is being discussed.
Revuri said, "Soon there will be clarity on Chandrababu Naidu's campaign meetings in Telangana, mostly there would be two public gatherings that he would be addressing."
Public meetings are likely to take place in Khammam, Rangareddy or Hyderabad limits, where the TDP has a strong base.
While Naidu's presence will come as a morale booster for the TDP cadre in Telangana, observers say his public rallies are unlikely to make a big difference. Speaking to TNM senior political observer Telakapalli Ravi said, “Chandrababu Naidu's presence is not going to be a game changer.”
Pointing out that the TRS is ahead in its campaign, Ravi noted that the ruling party has made strategic attacks on Chandrababu Naidu turning the public discourse from one about issues within the state to the Telangana-Andhra issue. Ravi observed, "Given the situation, Naidu’s presence doesn't really make a qualitative difference except among few sections".
When asked about 'settlers' from Andhra voting for the TDP, he said, "We can't conclude that the settlers from Andhra would rally behind TDP".