Bonhomie to bitterness | Left, BRS ties hit the nadir in Telangana

The Left parties are at a crossroads in Telangana

September 28, 2023 02:00 am | Updated 02:01 am IST

The fact that BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao did not concede even one seat for the Left has left the CPI and CPI(M) fuming. File

The fact that BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao did not concede even one seat for the Left has left the CPI and CPI(M) fuming. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Left parties in Telangana have been unhappy ever since the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), led by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, announced candidates for 115 out of the 119 Assembly seats. They are angry that the BRS listed out its candidates even as it was still in talks with the Left parties over seat-sharing. During conversations with BRS leaders, the CPI had wished to field candidates from the Huzurabad, Wyra, Kothagudem, Munugode, Bellampally and Devarakonda constituencies, which it has represented in the past. The CPI(M) had said that it wanted its candidates to contest from the Miryalaguda, Palair, Bhadrachalam, Ibrahimpatnam, Madhira and Nalgonda constituencies. But Mr. Rao announced that BRS candidates would be fielded from all these constituencies. The fact that he did not concede even one seat for the Left has left the CPI and CPI(M) fuming. Moreover, the announcement came soon after the BRS joined forces with the Left in the bye-election to the Munugode Assembly constituency, to reverse the Bharatiya Janata Party (BRS)’s tide. For the Left, that bonhomie has given way to bitterness.

The Left parties claim that Mr. Rao appreciated their struggle against the BJP at the time of elections, but walked out of a possible alliance for the Assembly elections. They lament that they failed to gauge Mr. Rao’s inconsistent stand towards the BJP. Earlier, the BRS supported the BJP on demonetisation and its candidate during the President’s election. While the party would hit out against the BJP in Telangana, it did not attack the BJP at the Centre. This changed after the regional party began nurturing national ambitions. The Left believes that Mr. Rao is refusing an alliance due to political reasons and not due to seat-sharing concerns.

The announcement, which the Left parties say was “unilateral”, has forced them to explore the possibility of allying with the Congress, as they are firmly against any kind of understanding with the BJP. Leaders of the Left have held meetings with the Congress in-charge, Manikrao Thakre, and conveyed their intention of contesting from the constituencies where they have a sizeable presence. The CPI(M) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, and his CPI counterpart D. Raja have held talks with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, too. But so far, the Congress has remained non-committal on entering into an understanding with the Left parties. The Left, though, is still hopeful since the Congress, CPI and CPI(M) all played a crucial role in stitching together the INDIA alliance.

A look at political developments over the last few decades shows that the presence of the Left in Telangana has declined steadily over time. The Left parties were once a major opposition force in erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh; today, they are confined to a few pockets. “The strength and the presence of the Left has been coming down, but not their relevance. They fight against communal forces and continue to struggle against the policies of globalisation that are being implemented by successive governments,” says senior journalist and political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.

A look at the Left’s performance in previous elections shows how their vote share has been on the decline. The CPI, which fielded candidates in three constituencies in the 2018 polls, forfeited deposit in two and secured just 0.40% of the total votes polled. The CPI(M) candidates who contested from 26 constituencies forfeited their deposits in all of them. In 2014, when elections were held in united Andhra Pradesh, the CPI and the CPI (M) won one seat each, while forfeiting deposits in close to 100 constituencies in which they fielded candidates. The vote share of the two parties in 2014 was 0.53% and 0.84% respectively, according to the Election Commission of India.

With the Congress yet to announce its stand on a possible understanding with the Left, it is likely that the CPI and CPI (M) will be left with no option other than creating a platform with parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party, which is firming up plans to field candidates in Telangana in the next elections. Such an experiment will not be new as the CPI (M) took the initiative of forming the Bahujan Left Front in the run-up to the previous elections in a bid to unite representatives from the deprived sections. That, however, did not meet with much success.

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