A battle conceded without a fight

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen TRS members abstained from voting on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government in July this year, it was thought that it was a precursor to the Telangana ruling party moving into the orbit of BJP influence. TRS had also supported Modi’s pet ‘one nation, one poll’ theme. But recent developments showed nothing like that was on the cards.

The latest statement by KT Rama Rao, son of Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, that the BJP is non-existent in his state is nothing short of a slight to the ruling party at the Centre. State Congress leaders are also echoing the same sentiment. Both parties claim there is no fight with the BJP and that the ruling party at the Centre may not be able to even retain the five seats it had in the dissolved Assembly.

It is a known fact that lotus is refusing to bloom in the South, except for a rare flowering season in Karnataka, which is also not recurring. After managing a tainted tenure, it failed to make a mark, despite a lot of things going in its favour, including the single largest number and a pliant governor. In the remaining southern states, including Andhra and Telangana, BJP has only tried to piggy-ride regional parties. By way of posturing, the national party is contesting all the seats in Telangana, but its chances of returning even half a dozen members are being contested by both Congress and TRS. In fact, TRS claims that the BJP candidates will forfeit their deposits in most seats.

And yet, GVL Narasimha Rao, perhaps the only recognizable face from Telangana in the party, is predicting surprise results from the state, which according to him will be very positive for BJP. On what basis he is making the claim is not known, unless he expects benefits from the party’s belligerent sand on the Sabarimala imbroglio, which has the sympathy of a large number of Ayyappa devotees hailing from the state. But for that to happen, the party is not known to have made any serious attempt to arouse passions among the devotees, as its counterpart has done in Kerala with great success, the results of which, however, will be known only during the 2019 General Elections, the first occasion to test it on the ground.

With the Assembly elections too close to afford any poll engineering, 2019 may be a better bet for the South’s friend-less party to attempt. As there is more time and space to leverage in terms of the Lok Sabha elections, the party might still be hoping for some miracle to happen by then. But as far as the Assembly polls are concerned, India’s biggest national party seems to have already conceded the fight in Telangana.