Saturday, Dec 13, 2003
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By Y. Mallikarjun
It was in 1971 that the Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS) had bagged 11 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the region in the wake of a prolonged agitation led by Marri Channa Reddy during 1969-70 for a separate State. The MPs who were elected on the plank of separate Telangana at that time joined the Congress later and the movement eventually petered out.
With the fledgling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) emerging as a strong force in some of the Telangana districts this time, political observers are keenly watching whether it would be able to arrive at some kind of an electoral understanding with the Congress and the Left parties even though the views of Communists are diametrically opposite with the cause espoused by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
Ironically, the BJP, which revived the issue of smaller States and brought back the Telangana factor into focus by adopting the `one vote, two States' resolution at Kakinada in 1998, has now kept the issue in cold storage due to electoral compulsions as its ally and the ruling party, the TDP, has rejected the demand for bifurcating the State and has decided to seek the mandate for a united Andhra Pradesh.
The fact that the Congress high command has now agreed to appoint a Telangana Regional Coordination Committee after persistently rejecting the demand of the Congress Forum for Telangana (CFT) for a separate Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) for Telangana could be seen as a clear acknowledgement of its importance in the ensuing elections. Senior Congress leader and CWC member, Ghulam Nabi Azad, during the "Prajahita'' bus tour of Telangana has sought to assure people by saying that the Congress respected their sentiments.
Political observers feel that the Congress is not coming out openly in support of a separate State as it might affect its chances in Andhra. The BJP's "flip-flop" stand and the willing-to-strike-but-afraid-to-wound attitude of the Congress evoked sharp criticism from the TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who declared that his party would not forge an alliance with the Congress unless the latter unequivocally announced its commitment to a separate Telangana.
Agreeing that the Telangana issue would have "some impact" in the elections, the State BJP's vice-president, S.V. Seshagiri Rao, said it would be too early to judge as to what extent the effect would be. He, however, added that everything would depend on the alliances forged by other parties. The sentiment might remain stronger if TRS went alone and might get diluted if an accord was reached between the TRS and the Congress, he observed.
Mr.Rao also feels that the Telangana issue would not have a bearing on the electoral prospects of the BJP-TDP combine as a variety of factors would decide the poll outcome. On the other hand, the CPI's State Secretary, S. Sudhakar Reddy, feels that the TDP-BJP could be dealt a "decisive defeat" if the TRS, Congress and the Left parties reach some kind of understanding in the Telangana districts which account for 107 of the 294 Assembly seats.
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