The Telangana suspense ended on Thursday with the youngest state of India seeking premature dissolution of its first Assembly, almost nine months before the completion of its tenure. As expected, TRS head and CM K Chandrasekhar Rao recommended the dissolution, which was quickly accepted by Governor E S L Narasimhan who asked the Cabinet to continue as a caretaker.
While the TRS chief is confident of returning to power, he prefers early polls so as to stay focused on Telangana-centric issues, avoiding being overshadowed by the Narendra Modi vs the rest of the Opposition polarisation that will definitely happen during general elections, which could have impacted voter preferences. For, Rao wants to cash in on the feel-good factor in Telangana due to bountiful rainfall with almost all major irrigation reservoirs brimming with water.
He feels his effective implementation of developmental programmes will work in his favour if he can avoid simultaneous polls. That Rao is confident and has done enough preparatory work was showing when he also announced his candidates to as many as 105 Assembly seats, retaining almost 95 per cent of his lawmakers. His plans to kickstart his election campaign from Friday indicates a calculative mind that is ready to take on the Opposition, especially the Congress that is struggling to cope with internal disturbances.
Still, there is one hurdle to cross—the Election Commission. It has to decide when the Assembly polls would be held. Elections have to be held within six months of the date of dissolution of the Assembly, as per the Supreme Court verdict in the Gujarat case in 2002. It would perhaps make sense for the EC to hold early Telangana elections by the end of the year, along with the four other states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, so that the caretaker ministry does not continue beyond a reasonable limit of time and the people’s mandate is allowed to prevail at the earliest.