Congress might advance elections ahead of their schedule in 2014 to cash in on the BJP’s internal difficulties

Ever since the AICC made its intent clear last week that it had begun marshalling resources for the Lok Sabha elections, there is a sense of urgency to the moves of key players on the political chess-board of Andhra Pradesh.

It triggered the usual blah blah that they were fully geared to face the elections, never mind the ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ phenomenon, besides the talk of candidates’ selection.

What hastened all this was the perception that the Congress might advance elections ahead of their schedule in 2014 to cash in on the BJP’s internal difficulties caused by charges against Nitin Gadkari.

None also missed the uphill task in Andhra Pradesh for senior leader A. K. Antony who heads the sub-group constituted by the AICC to forge pre-poll alliances.

Yet, politics in Andhra Pradesh has always been the art of the possible. To cite an example, the TRS allied with the Congress in 2004 and with the TDP in 2009 elections, never mind that the latter was fundamentally opposed to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

What is possible under the present circumstances, therefore, is the Congress allying with the TRS again and, who knows, even with the YSR Congress after the elections.

These are options the Congress will explore, given the MIM’s unilateral decision to snap ties. The TDP and BJP are ruled out as they are foes, ideologically.

No Congressmen worth his khadi shirt is willing to wager a bet that his party will win a straight third term in the Assembly. At least, not on its own steam if you take into account that the party could win just 156 seats in 2009, albeit without a pre-poll alliance, in contrast to winning 33 Lok Sabha seats.

It was evident from statements of AICC leaders Vayalar Ravi and Sushil Kumar Shinde besides the outpouring of anger and frustration by TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao that separate Telangana was not an immediate option for the Centre.

KCR has since declared he would teach the Congress a lesson after the 2014 elections by leveraging his strength in the Lok Sabha, in a departure from his present strategy of putting pressure on the Delhi durbar every day. Will the TRS now settle for anything less than another announcement by the Centre on a separate Telangana is a question doing the rounds.

Political strategy

Or that matter, will the MIM retract its decision and return to the Congress fold. MIM’s is more of a political strategy as it sees the Congress as a sinking ship which will not win the next elections and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy as a leader unresponsive to the Muslims’ demands. For the record though, it has attributed the partying of ways to ‘communal policies’ pursued by Mr. Kiran Reddy.

By pulling the plug, the MIM has generated a passionate discussion in Congress circles about the style of functioning of the Chief Minister, who completes two years in office later this week. Ministers outside his circle have a litany of complaints against him, even after the high command has firmly ruled out any change of leadership. These include the absence of internal debate before announcement of important decisions, infrequent meetings of the Cabinet and the precedence to administrative solutions over the political ones.

Congress has seasoned leaders with experience of tackling men and matters. They will keep communication channels with the TRS and MIM open.

With Digvijay Singh, an old hand at AP Congress affairs, also sitting at the table, other solution such as a political-cum-economic package for Telangana are reportedly being discussed while the aspirants for the Chief Minister’s post have stepped up lobbying in Delhi.

Where Mr. Kiran Reddy would figure in the event of finalisation of a Telangana package would be awaited with interest.


Congress jittery over mid-term poll talk November 18, 2012