Unstoppable in Telangana

K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s welfare schemes helped the TRS surge ahead despite discontentment in some regions

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, has registered a huge win in the Assembly elections. This can be seen as a vote for welfare. The formation of a separate State was seen as a possible solution to a sustained agrarian crisis and massive jobless growth. KCR won his first term as Chief Minister in 2014 after leading an unprecedented mass mobilisation for a separate State. Telangana region moved overnight from a state of economic crisis to a State rich with resources, a surplus budget, and with a rising per capita income. The government did reasonably well in providing irrigation and power, and formulated welfare policies for occupational groups in rural areas. It managed to shift the surplus generated by the IT sector and other Hyderabad-based sources to the rural poor. The State remained relatively peaceful without incidents of street violence and other kinds of social strife. This does not mean that there has been no discontent in Telangana over the last few years. Primary among worries has been the issue of jobless growth, and the only recruitments made by the TRS government were of police constables and school teachers. The aspirations of the youth remained unaddressed. KCR’s leadership also disallowed dissent of any kind. Leaders of the Opposition, including the leader of the Telangana Jana Samithi, M. Kodandaram, were not allowed to hold meetings and rallies to elaborate on issues that the TRS government had failed to address. The ruling party managed to use money power to bring to its side various Opposition leaders. Further, the standard of public discourse was brought down by the repeated use of vulgar and abusive language against anyone who questioned KCR’s governance. Telangana was transformed into a welfare State without democracy. The students of Osmania University, who played a pivotal role in the formation of the State, were the targets of an ill-directed repression — even funds to the university were cut when students protested against the passage of the Telangana State Private Universities Bill. The leader of a mass movement demonstrated utter contempt for public spiritedness, dissent and dialogue.This result will have implications for the 2019 general election. KCR was uncertain of the results and called for an early poll. Now he needs the support of neither the BJP nor the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. This will have an impact on the TRS’s equation with the BJP. If KCR manages, as a result of the popular mandate, to walk over the BJP, the crisis of finding alliance partners for 2019 will only deepen for the BJP. This, however, does not make it easy for the TRS to join the mahagathbandhan, given that the Congress remains its primary rival in Telangana. Also, KCR is not known to be a champion of democracy and tackle the issue of failing institutions. It will be interesting to observe what path the TRS will chart for itself next year.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/unstoppable-in-telangana/article25721932.ece

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