With the Assembly elections in Telangana barely three weeks away, Congressmen are back to doing what they are best at: Infighting. Faced with a formidable and charismatic rival who is already off the block and much ahead in the race, one would expect the opposition grouping to get its act together quickly and reach out to people with an alternative development agenda. However, the Congress is still grappling with internal squabbles and pulls and pressures over not only the selection of its own candidates but also in allotment of seats to its allies in Mahakutami. The promised common minimum programme and joint manifesto are nowhere in sight as the main opposition party leaders make frenetic trips to Delhi to finalise candidates in what has turned out to be an excruciatingly slow process. Massive dissidence broke out across the State soon after the Congress announced its first list of 65 candidates following much wrangling and dilly-dallying while the fledgling ally Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) is peeved over a paltry offer of eight seats and could field candidates in more constituencies leading to what is being euphemistically termed as ‘friendly fights.’ Already, the Congress is facing a severe backlash from Backward Class leaders for inadequate representation to the communities and, more importantly, denying ticket to former PCC president Ponnala Laxmaiah who lost no time in rushing to Delhi to give his piece of mind to the high command.
The big brotherly attitude of the Congress in allocation of seats is hurting an already fragile and tenuous opposition formation. This does not augur well for a party that positions itself as the fulcrum of opposition alliance. In sharp contrast to the predicament of the Congress camp, there is an air of confidence and combativeness in the TRS which is already into its second round of campaigning covering every nook and cranny of the State. Despite decades of antagonism that marked their relationship, the Congress and the TDP have formed an alliance with the sole aim of unseating the TRS government. Such opportunistic alliances cannot expect to find resonance among the people. For India’s youngest State, which defied the prophets of doom by consistently registering double-digit growth, setting a new trend in governance by balancing welfare with development, what matters most at this juncture is the continuity of development mantra and the consolidation of the gains made in the last four years. The impact of a string of people-centric policies, a fine blend of welfare and development, on the lives of the people is there for everyone to see. By releasing candidates’ list for 105 seats at one go, KCR has clearly upped the game and displayed an aggression that the opposition has been unable to match.