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In Karimnagar bypoll, TRS chief rides Telangana wave

B Dasarath Reddy  |  Karimnagar 

The byelection to the is set to dash the Congress' hopes of permanently driving off the road the Telangana bandwagon spearheaded by the (TRS).
What is more, the byelection is posing the first credible challenge to the ruling party, which has had a comfortable run in the last two-and-a-half-years.
TRS chief is riding the crest of an unprecedented Telangana wave worked up by a cross-section of pro-Telangana activists and organisations, including non-resident Indians from this part of the state. He is emerging a clear winner despite being hated by his constituency.
The opposition is (TDP) is in a bad shape for two reasons. It is losing the chance of exploiting the anti-incumbency factor, which it did during the 2004 elections.
Plus, while the may partially negate the drubbing that it may get at Karimnagar (it may fail to secure even the second position) by wresting Bobbili from the TDP, the latter will have nothing to show.
Right from the time of renouncing his Cabinet berth in the to resigning the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat, KCR, as the TRS chief he is called, has re-enacted the formula of regaining lost credibility by clambering on to the statehood bandwagon.
The appears to have walked into his trap by facilitating a byelection which is giving its bete noire a new lease of life.
Across the seven assembly segments under the Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituency, of which four are held by the Congress, the twin factors of Telangana and anti-incumbency are clearly working against the ruling party.
Sensing that a defeat for KCR will sound the death knell of the cause of separate statehood, a number of pro-Telangana organisations, including associations of government employees and teachers have reached out, sometimes indirectly, to every nook and cranny of the constituency. The 14-lakh-plus voters are being beamed only one message: "Forget KCR. Our very future is at stake."
The fear of government employees influencing voters inside polling booths in favour of the TRS is so great that the state government has drafted 50 per cent of the polling staff from Central government organisations. It has also issued instructions that polling personnel should not venture into the makeshift boxes where electronic voting machines are put.
Says Narsimhareddy, a leader and a staunch follower of Congress candidate "There are no TRS cadres in many villages. Yet the message in favour of Telangana is being carried to every farmer and agriculture labourer. Even the teachers in government schools have been telling their students to insist upon their parents to vote for the TRS."
Said Kodandaram, an Osmania University professor and Telangana Vidhyavantula Vedica (forum of the educated) activist camping in Karimnagar, "After the separate Telangana uprising which culminated into a huge electoral victory for the Telangana Prajasamiti in the early 70s, all pro-Telangana organisations had merged with TRS. Now all the existing non-political organisations are working outside the TRS and are able to successfully sustain the Telangana spirit irrespective of the wild fluctuations in KCR's credibility."
The ruling party is clearly troubled by anti-incumbency feelings. The goodwill created by free power has waned under the effect of erratic power supply. Laxman Raj, an irrigation pump mechanic in Kodurupaka village is witness to the frustration of farmers. Power supply has been very erratic and pumps get damaged due to low voltage.
Plus, the "government's failure" to address inflation appears to have played its part in fuelling resentment among the poor. Says Mallaiah Goud, a small kirana shopowner in Cheligal village in the Jagtyal Assembly segment: "Prices of all essential commodities have gone up in the recent times and poor people have been finding it difficult to make ends meet."

First Published: Sat, December 02 2006. 00:00 IST