Telangana’s KCR government on Thursday recommended the dissolution of the state Assembly several months ahead of the end of its term.
Immediately after the Telangana Cabinet recommended the dissolution of the Assembly, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announced candidates of the ruling TRS for 105 of the 119 assembly seats.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, KCR termed the party Telangana’s “enemy number 1”.
In a personal attack on Rahul Gandhi, KCR said that the Congress president is the “biggest buffoon” in the country.
Interestingly, the TRS chief avoided criticising the BJP.
Ending weeks of intense speculation, Rao chaired a meeting of the state cabinet, which adopted the resolution urging Governor E S L Narasimhan to dissolve the House.
The governor accepted the recommendation and dissolved the Assembly soon afterwards and asked Rao, who headed the state’s first government from June 2014, to continue as caretaker chief minister.
Watch: KCR govt recommends dissolution of Telangana Assembly
“The Governor, while accepting the recommendation of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers has requested K Chandrashekar Rao and his Council of Ministers to continue in office as a caretaker government. Chandrasekhar Rao has agreed to this request,” a Raj Bhavan press communique said.
The Congress and some other opposition parties cried foul over the development, calling it the result of a “dubious pact” between Rao and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speculation was rife over the last few weeks about the likelihood of Rao going for an early election as he did not want national issues raised during the next year’s Lok Sabha polls to overshadow local factors, which the Telangana Rashtra Samiti(TRS) feels, are in its favour.
In normal circumstances, the assembly election in the state would have coincided with the Lok Sabha polls likely April-May next year.
Narasimhan is expected to send a report to the Centre on the developments and formally communicate the Telangana government’s decision to the Election Commission.
The final call on whether to conduct an early election rests with the Election Commission, which has six months till March to hold the polls.
A union home ministry official said in New Delhi it is up to the poll panel to decide whether it wants elections in Telangana to take place with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram in November-December.
“Today, it’s KCR versus nobody. Six months later, it would have become a KCR versus (Narendra) Modi campaign,” TRS veteran K Kesava Rao, a party MP told a TV channel, indicating that the decision to go for a snap poll was also aimed at delinking the assembly and Lok Sabha elections to avoid a personalised campaign, with the local issues taking a back seat.
With the opposition hardly presenting the picture of a cohesive bloc, the TRS currently sits pretty in the state in whose creation Rao played a pivotal role.
Sources in the ruling party said Rao wanted to cash in on what he believes was a “positive atmosphere” in favour of his government.
“Everybody knows Rahul Gandhi. He is the biggest buffoon in the country. Whole country has seen in the open assembly (Lok Sabha) how he went to Mr Narendra Modi and hugged him....the way he was winking,” Rao told a press conference after the cabinet decision.
Rao said his ties with Modi were “purely government to government, constitutional and not personal”.
“The number one villain and biggest enemy of Telangana is Congress. It was Jawaharlal Nehru who merged the then Telangana region with other Telugu-speaking regions against the wishs of Telangana and it was Indira Gandhi who crushed the separate statehood agitation during her regime,” he said.
Rao, TRS sources said, felt popular programmes launched by his government including the Bhagirathi Drinking Water Scheme, Kalyana Lakshmi/Shaadi Mubarak schemes for one-time assistance to economically weak families of girls of marriageable age, and Rythu Bandhu investment support scheme for farmers will help it reap a rich electoral harvest.
The TRS boss also appeared not wanting to give enough elbow room to the Congress, a formidable force in undivided Andhra Pradesh, and the neighbouring state’s ruling TDP to come together and put up a united fight against his party. The two parties had voted together during the recent no-trust vote against the Modi government and the vice presidential poll.
Delaying the polls till Apri-May would have given the two parties more leeway to form an alliance the possibility of which still exists. However, the two parties will have to hasten the pace and remove the possible irritants in the way.
“If simultaneous elections were to be held for Lok Sabha and the state assembly, it would have turned into a Rahul Gandhi versus Modi fight in states like Telangana and benefited the Congress,” chief spokesperson of the Telangana unit of the Congress Sravan Dasoju told PTI.
The party-wise strength in the 120-member Telangana Legislative Assembly before its dissolution was TRS-82, Congress-17, AIMIM-7, BJP-5, TDP-3, Vacant-2, the CPI, CPI(M), indipendent and nominated member (one each).
(With PTI inputs)