Congress Fears Drowning in Telangana Cross Currents
By R Prithvi Raj - HYDERABAD
Published: 19th Jan 2014 12:15:19 PM
There seems to be no end to the Congress’s woes in Andhra Pradesh. After decimating its support in Seemandhra by bifurcating the state, it is now haunted by the spectre of cross-voting by its Seemadhra MLAs in the Rajya Sabha elections.
The poll announcement could not have come at a worse time for the Congress. The state is being divided and all MLAs are polarised region wise. “This time, there might be a high degree of cross voting, particularly from Seemandhra region,” a senior minister from Seemandhra said.
This apart, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the YSR Congress (YSRC) are also eyeing a Rajya Sabha seat each. As the Congress needs the TRS support badly in the 2014 polls, it may have to sacrifice a seat to it. The separatist party hopes to mobilise support from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and the CPI as well.
The Jagan Reddy-led YSRC is also weighing its chances of landing one Rajya Sabha seat by ensuring cross-voting from the Seemandhra Congress camp and if possible from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), too.
The Congress MLAs in Seemandhra are not very keen to stay in the party as its prospects in the next polls are not quite bright. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s promise of floating a political party has met a lukewarm response, indicating the MLAs either want to join the YSR camp or the TDP or just take a break.
Ideally, the Congress, with its strength of 146 in the Assembly, should have been able to win three seats and with the help of allies, one more. The TDP with its strength of 80 should win two seats but some of its Telangana MLAs are veering towards the TRS. A minimum 39 votes are needed to win.
At present, the strength of the Assembly is 279 against a total of 294 as there are 15 vacancies. Party-wise strength in the Assembly is: Congress 146, TDP 80, TRS and YSRC 17 each, MIM 7, CPI 4, BJP 3, independents 3 and Lok Satta and CPM 1 each. If one takes a look region-wise, the Congress has 50 MLAs in Telangana and 96 in Seemandhra, while the TDP has 34 in Telangana and 46 in Andhra.
The Congress is worried over the possibility of cross-voting by Seemandhra MLAs as they have nothing to lose even if they defy the party high command. The Assembly will be turning up its toes in just a few months. The rebels could easily bargain for party tickets with either the TDP or YSRC if these parties field the candidates in return for cross-voting.
KVP Ramachandra Rao, T Ratnabai, M A Khan, Nandi Yellaiah and T Subbiramireddy from the Congress would be retiring this term. The sixth seat has fallen vacant after TDP member N Harirksihna resigned in protest over the Centre’s T-decision.
As legislators are polarised on regional lines, there is pressure on the Congress to field at least one candidate from Telangana and two from Seemandhra. The Congress may pick KVP Ramachandra Rao, T Subbarami Reddy and former IAS officer Koppula Raju. From Telangana, it may pick either M A Khan or Md Ali Shabber.
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu wants to field one candidate each from both regions. He may nominate film actor N Balakrishna from Seemandhra and Dalit MLA Motkupalli Narasimhulu from Telengana. But TDP’s list of aspirants is long. The TRS wants to field its secretary general K Keshava Rao and YSRC hopes to field M V Mysoora Reddy, banking solely on cross-voting.
The Sunday Standard