Andhra Pradesh goes to the polls as a united State, but the voters will in effect be electing two governments, one for Telangana and the other for the residual Andhra Pradesh. As the Assembly constituencies for Telangana have already been identified, there can be little confusion in the voters’ minds on this score. Indeed, the two regions are slated to vote on separate days: while the election to the Telangana region (119 Assembly constituencies) is to be held on April 30, the election to the rest of Andhra Pradesh, Seemandhra or the residual Andhra Pradesh State (175 constituencies), will be on May 7. Ideally, the bifurcation should have been completed before the election so that the process of dividing the legislature after its constitution could have been avoided. However, with Telangana slated to come into being as early as June 2, just a couple of weeks after the declaration of results, the division of the newly constituted House will have to be done immediately, and separate governments sworn in. The election is being held on the basis of the extent of Assembly constituencies as per the 2008 Delimitation Order. But more importantly, the total number of reserved (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) seats in the State remains the same (31 in Telangana, including 12 for STs and 36 in residual Andhra Pradesh, including seven for STs). Given the requirement of ensuring adequate representation in proportion to the population of SCs and STs in each of the State units, this might change in the future.
With the bifurcation having taken up most of the political space in Andhra Pradesh, issues arising out of the creation of Telangana will dominate the election. In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which spearheaded the statehood agitation, and the Congress, which is seen as the prime facilitator of the bifurcation, will undoubtedly make gains, especially if they fight as an alliance. In the Seemandhra region, parties that had tried to stall the bifurcation, including the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress, will probably gain at the expense of the Congress. Even livelihood concerns are being framed within the debate on the bifurcation. Agricultural issues are seen in terms of sharing of water resources between the two regions, and employment and investment opportunities are seen as being either enhanced or limited depending on perceptions of access to Hyderabad after the bifurcation. The Telangana and Seemandhra regions are therefore sure to vote in very different ways. While the TRS is confined to Telangana, members of other parties that are active in both the regions are divided in their loyalties and will have to be walking a tight rope in their campaign.