The four-party opposition alliance Mahakutami seems to have cobbled up a working coalition in Telangana. If we go by their last few days’ activity, Chandrababu Naidu emerges as the principal force behind it. His low key bargaining on the number of seats for the TDP suggests his implied hold on it.
The TJS is still grumpy about its number of seats. The CPI is just sailing along. So, it’s a special purpose vehicle fuelled by the TDP and run by the Congress with the TJS and CPI taking a lift with them.
The reasons preferred by the partners for such an unlikely stitch-together are interesting. Congress, the major partner, feels that since it was instrumental in granting Telangana State, it should wrest power from the TRS, which usurped it. The TDP says, the BJP, its erstwhile NDA friend, has since become undemocratic, and so it needs to protect democracy in the country and Mahakutami in Telangana is a step in that direction.
The TJS says it is joining the front for the cause of Telangana people, as the TRS is not working for them. The CPI, as usual, is game for alliances with any opposition party for its survival.
If the Congress and its State unit were smart enough to read the political situation correctly last time, they could have worked out a deal with the TRS to share the spoils of power. But they did not do so and lost the chance. Further, instead of showing some altruism in the brand new State, they opposed every move of the maiden government with an unseemly grudge.
They opposed all its popular projects and welfare schemes in tandem. They also did not show any interest in the vital issues of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA) related to Telangana. In the process, they could not gain any political mileage to challenge the ruling TRS on their own. Hence the coalition with other parties.
It is an open secret that the TDP is a sole proprietorship company of Chandrababu Naidu. It was the principal party to oppose the formation of Telangana from December 2009 to February 2014. It did everything in its power to sabotage the TS Bill even in its final stage in Parliament.
After formation of the State, the T-TDP did not evince any interest in the reconstruction of the State and has opposed every move of the Telangana government. It has never exhibited any regional ethos like its principal Andhra counterpart. As a matter of fact, it can only be ‘his master’s voice’. Nothing more.
Enigma called TJS
The TJS is an enigmatic party. It is the political adjunct of TJAC, which did good work in Telangana’s struggle. Though TJAC, a coalition of Telangana political parties, professed to be neutral, it was not so. After the 2014 general elections it did not respect people’s verdict and did not remain neutral.
It opposed the TRS along with other opposition parties. It disapproved the political and economic models of the TRS and said it was developing an alternative development plan. It could not do it in the last four years. Finally, it has joined a coalition masterminded by the TDP.
The Communist Party of India, a minor party in the coalition, supported the State’s struggle. But it now opposes the ruling party, only to protect its limited constituency and preserve its political identity. Its role in the coalition is nominal, not significant.
Now let’s see the performance of the TRS government. The maiden TRS government in the new State is enjoying full political freedom and its full revenue for the first time.
It has undertaken several capital investment and populist welfare schemes. If anything, it can only be accused of being overambitious. It has done it keeping its budget, revenue surplus in all the four years in the new State. It has pegged its debt:GDP ratio within the bounds at 21.39% at the end of 2018-19.
The Centre, Niti Aayog, CAG, CWC and other Central organisations have expressed satisfaction at its performance. There can be some common shortcomings in its administration. But by and large, the performance of the maiden government is very good when compared with many other States in the country, including its counterpart in Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress does not like projects initiated by the TRS and wants to remodel them or stop them. It also wants to enhance the dole on several populist schemes of the TRS.
The TDP, except opposing all the TRS schemes, has not yet worked out its agenda in Telangana. But its leader is clear on opposing many APRA provisions related to Telangana. The TJS, which does not like capital projects of the TRS, wants to stop them and provide employment to everybody! Yet, it has not worked out any clear cut plan on it.
The CPI does not have any development plan of its own except its regular proletariat welfare agenda. It is puzzling to think how this coalition of unlike-minded political parties will work out a common agenda to counter the TRS. It will be seen in its common minimum programme, which is yet to see the light of the day.
So, for the present it looks like an ad hoc coalition of ideologically disparate political parties with the sole aim of dethroning the TRS and capturing power in Telangana. It is to be seen if the people of Telangana fall prey to their desperate gamble to jeopardise the new State under the direction of its arch enemy, Chandrababu’s TDP.
(The author is a retired government official and Telangana activist)