Time seems to be running out for the ruling Congress. With less than a year to go for elections, it is set to face a drubbing if an internal survey reportedly done for the government recently is anything to go by.
The survey found YSR Congress, floated by late YSR’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy, ahead in the Coastal-Rayalaseema region and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana.
While the present situation insofar as YSRCP is concerned could change depending on whether Jagan gets bail or not until polls, the survey suggests a massive slide for the Congress in the State, particularly in Telangana where statehood issue is still raging.
The survey gives the Congress a maximum of 35-40 seats in the best case scenario, a significant drop from the 156 seats in 2009. Any further drop as elections draw close might result in the Congress beating its worst-ever 1994 record of 27.
The current confabulations in the Congress on the statehood issue assume significance in the context of the survey results as the situation could alter depending on the decision. Many in the Congress believe an economic package instead of statehood for Telangana is unlikely to fetch more seats as the party’s vote share in the region has slipped to an irretrievable 14-17 per cent.
If the Centre decides to concede a Telangana state, the TRS will be compelled to have an alliance with the Congress if not merging with it. In such a scenario, the alliance is expected to bag a majority in Telangana.
Going by the opinions sought from state Congress leaders by Delhi mandarins, the Centre is also mulling the pros and cons of merging Kurnool and Anantapur districts (28 seats together) with Telangana if a decision in favour of division is taken. The enlarged Telangana state will have exactly half of the 294 seats. The Congress seems to be thinking that this is one way of slowing down the Jagan juggernaut. With just two districts of Rayalaseema -- Kadapa and Chittoor -- becoming part of the divided Coastal region, the view is that a leader from Rayalaseema (Jagan) is unlikely to be accepted across that belt. In that case, it will be a three-way fight between the Congress, YSRCP and TDP as against what is currently a two-way battle between YSRCP and TDP with the ruling party not in the reckoning. Thus, it still leaves scope for a YSRC-Congress alliance in the Coastal region, a proposition Jagan’s party may not reject.
According to highly placed sources, the Congress leaders sent feelers to the TRS seeking to know its position on merging Kurnool and Anantapur with Telangana. The response was that the TRS may not be averse to it, whatever be the public posturing. However, TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao is reportedly unwilling to go to Delhi for any discussion before a firm announcement is made.