Andhra Pradesh political chess championship. Game on.


tssBy T S Sudhir
If the exit polls on every television channel are anything to go by, the voters of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi have done the votaries of pro-united Andhra Pradesh a huge favour. Even though the Group of Ministers (GoM) has recommended the formation of Rayala Telangana state (includes ten districts of Telangana and two districts of Rayalaseema) in its 70-page report, the moral authority of the UPA government to divide Andhra Pradesh will be severely eroded post December 8, if the Congress indeed gets mauled in the four states. Especially when there is absolutely no consensus among the main stakeholders in the state on division and ever since July 30, when the Congress decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, much of the population has been protesting – both off and on the street.
It is indeed an ironical situation that the GoM, consisting of several senior Congress ministers has recommended Rayala Telangana state, when its Chief Minister, Deputy CM, PCC chief are all opposed to it.  (Read blog : Why the idea of Rayala Telangana state is back on the table)
If the BJP does win all four states, expect a spring in their step. The party is already on record refusing any support to anything but Telangana state with ten districts. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti has called for a Telangana bandh on December 5, to coincide with the Union cabinet deliberating on the GoM report. Both Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and Jaganmohan Reddy will see this as a ray of hope. That Andhra Pradesh may indeed not be divided – atleast not till elections 2014 in April.
Posturing for public consumption apart, every political party is actually playing to a plan. To ensure they return to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly (or assemblies) with the maximum number of elected representatives.
First the Congress. Easily the party that is in quite a spot of bother. Not only it has made matters difficult for itself by deciding to go in for a hybrid version of Telangana by dividing Rayalaseema when there is no demand from any quarter to do so, it also has to deal with its own chief minister, who has raised the red flag. The party believes Rayala Telangana will get them electoral dividends, besides ensuring against the demand for a separate state of Rayalaseema in the future.  
The party’s Delhi leaders are confident that despite the BJP’s opposition, they can cobble the numbers in Lok Sabha. The Upper House could be a tricky issue where the party does not have the numbers and that is where the issue may lie till the elections. The Congress will go to town saying they did all they could, and put the blame on the BJP. And Andhra Pradesh will vote as one state.
This suits the TRS as well which realises that the Congress no longer has the momentum and therefore isn’t too keen to fight the elections along with the Congress. Today’s bandh is nothing more than an attempt to reclaim the position as the sole spokesperson of the Telangana region, a spot that the Congress was threatening to usurp since the July 30 decision.
Feelers have been sent from the TRS to the BJP and vice versa and there are many who believe that a Narendra Modi-KCR combination, blasting the Congress for “betraying the people of Telangana for not giving what they asked for” will work well for the alliance. The TRS can also bargain for a good share of the seats with the BJP. Yes, it may affect the minority vote in districts like Nizamabad and Karimnagar but TRS leaders believes the minuses are offset by the pluses. (Read blog : KCR goes back to agitation mode)
The BJP claims that it is being wooed by at least three parties in Andhra Pradesh – TRS, Telugu Desam and YSR Congress. Chandrababu Naidu, fighting with his back to the wall in Seemandhra, is banking on an alliance with the BJP, should it succeed in blocking the bifurcation bill in Parliament. The TDP believes that a Modi-Naidu jugalbandi will connect well with the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s praise of Modi as a “good administrator” after his release from Hyderabad jail was not an off-the-cuff remark. It was a calculated comment that he wanted to be noted. While Jagan is certain to fight the elections alone and will hope to do well in Seemandhra, even his political friends admit he could join hands with any party that can form the next government in Delhi. The argument is that he has been out of power for too long now and he needs political friends in Delhi to ensure the CBI is off his back.
For the moment, however, the BJP and Jagan are not working the phone lines. Channels of communication, if necessary, will be opened only after the results in May. The BJP, wiser from the Yeddyurappa experience, says joining hands with Jagan now will give a handle to the Congress to attack it. Besides, it has its own suspicions about the kind of deal Jagan is alleged to have entered into with the Congress.
Kiran Kumar Reddy would be a confused man. If he had branched out to form his own outfit, he could have challenged Jagan in the Seemandhra space. But now by staying in the Congress, he is unlikely to return to power as the voters of his region are unlikely to trust his party with their votes again.
Meanwhile, away from all this political moves, bank manager Narasimha Rao is frustrated that he cannot travel to Sanga Reddy in Medak district because none of the outstation buses are plying due to the Telangana bandh. But ask him about what he thinks of the bandh politics practised by all political parties and he clams up. Fear written large on his face, he would much rather let his vote do the talking than invite the ire of any activist by taking a position publicly. 
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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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