Congress must be ruing its decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. This has multiplied party’s woes, dampened poll prospects and diluted the brand image before the people of the state. On the one hand, it is the judicial scrutiny and on the other it is the people’s verdict against them. Let me cite two developments that are fast changing the political arithmetic for Congress.
It was only two days ago that creation of Telangana came under judicial scrutiny with Supreme Court agreeing to the petitioners’ plea to examine the decision and seek response from the Centre. According to the petitions filed in the Supreme Court, the bifurcation is ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. They question the process followed by UPA. The petitions brought to the court’s notice that the Bill on bifurcation of the State was passed in Parliament despite being rejected by the State Assembly.
The court has called for the interference of a Constitution bench for hearing the issue and considering whether stay can be granted on state bifurcation. This move would create another stream of investigation and debates. The anti-Telangana protesters will gain further space to re-establish their stand. And all these possibilities are popping up just before the general elections.
Telangana will hold elections on April 30, Seemandhra on May 7. With little over a month left for the two states to go to polls, Congress has already got that feeling of being sidelined. Unlike in the past, the political battle in Telangana will not be between Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In case you have missed out on counting them, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has evolved into a main party of the region. The creation of this new state is attributed to their persistence and they are basking in success.
TRS Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has ruled out any possibility of forming an alliance with Congress in the upcoming elections. He stands as a stone wall for the party. To Congress’ dismay, KCR has retracted from his promise of merging with the party if it helped TRS to achieve the goal. He has been steadily dashing Congress’ hopes of gaining political mileage (for granting statehood). The party is already getting excluded from the good books of people in Seemandhara. The natives consider Congress as the main force behind splitting up Andhra Pradesh.
In another major blow, the poll surveys indicate that YSR congress is ahead of Congress in Seemandhra. That doesn’t come as a surprise to me because YSR Congress has always opposed bifurcation. The anti-Congress sentiment will benefit them and they are likely to get the taste of sympathy votes this time.
Anticipating a complete wipeout in Seemandhra, especially after the resignation of chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, Congress is trying to leverage its Union Ministers to do a damage control exercise. Union minister Jairam Ramesh is at the forefront of this crucial mission. He is pro-actively reaching out to the Seemandhra people in a bid to convince them that his party has not deprived the region. With a clear message of empowerment and development, the Congress ministers are highlighting the benefits they are bringing to the table: special category status for five years, development package, Polavaram multipurpose project, and other sops.
It’s a challenge that even the mightiest of the lot would hesitate to take up.