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Telangana Assembly Elections 2018: State elections in Telangana are going on tomorrow December 7 and results will be announced on December 11. Politicians have raised a number of issues in the campaigns leading up to the day. While some issues like unemployment and farmers’ grievances are socially relevant and directly affect the lives of people, others like politics over minority vote banks and the Telangana pride are clearly sentimental issues that politicians created for votes.
Naturally, unemployment has become a major poll issue for the Telangana assembly elections 2018. Enhancement of retirement age of government servants by three years to 61 and unemployment allowance to the youth are among the promises made in the TRS manifesto. The party also promised enhancement of all types of “Aasara” pensions from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,016 and also announced an allowance of Rs 3,016 per month for the unemployed.
“Instead of filling up vacancies (in government offices), KCR is promising unemployment allowance. This looks ridiculous and insulting and cheats the unemployed youth,” CPI national general secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy had said, criticizing the move. “Thirty lakh qualified youth of Telangana are unemployed. How many jobs did KCR create in his tenure?” Rahul Gandhi had asked, addressing a rally in Telangana. Congress has claimed that 1 lakh jobs in state government departments would be filled up within a year if it came to power in Telangana. BJP has also promised an allowance of Rs. 3,116 per month for the unemployed.
Agriculture is one issue that is dominating the Telangana poll campaign. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have all promised farm loan waivers. Chief minister KCR had earlier said that the investment support to farmers under the “RythuBandhu” scheme would be increased to Rs. 10,000 per acre per annum from the current Rs. 8,000. He had also highlighted the free power given to the farm sector. The Congress has also promised loan waivers of up to Rs. 2 lakh for farmers if it comes in power.
The BJP has also promised farm loan waivers of up to Rs. 2 lakh. Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttam Kumar Reddy had alleged that the TRS had copied the main points of its manifesto, after ridiculing farm loan waivers and other promises.
The role of Muslims, who constitute over 12 percent of Telangana’s population, may become crucial in the Telangana assembly elections 2018. Muslim voters are believed to be between 35 and 60 percent in 10 constituencies in Hyderabad and anywhere between 10 to 40 percent in the 50 other constituencies spread across the rest of the state. With a huge concentration of Muslim voters in state capital Hyderabad and some other districts, they are in a position to tilt the balance in nearly half of the 119 Assembly constituencies going to polls.
The support of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Asaduddin Owaisi led party, to the TRS in all constituencies, except the eight where AIMIM candidates are in the fray, may give KCR’s party some edge over its rivals.
Those supporting the TRS argue that the four and a half years under the party were free from communal riots, and that it took some steps for the welfare and development of Muslims, such as opening over 250 residential schools, scholarships for students and schemes like “Shadi Mubarak”, under which financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh is provided for the marriage of poor women.
It is no surprise that all political parties are trying to appeal to the Telangana pride of voters as the country’s newest state goes to polls. Therefore, when “mother of Telangana” Sonia visited the state in November, she recalled the problems Congress had to face because of its decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and said that despite suffering from the consequences, the party had gone ahead and “created” Telangana.
“It (carving out Telangana) was not an easy task. It was no small decision. But former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party decided to form Telangana state,” Sonia Gandhi had said.
TRS claimed that it was the KCR-led agitation that had forced the then UPA government’s hand into creating Telangana. While back in June 2014, KCR had stated on the floor of the Telangana Assembly that people must remember Sonia had backed the creation of Telangana, as time passed, TRS began to claim that only KCR was responsible for the creation of the state. TRS leader T Harish Rao had said that Naidu is a “betrayer” of Telangana people, and there was a need to stop him from “indirectly controlling the state”.
This November, KCR has said the welfare schemes implemented in Telangana were much better than the central policy, he was replying the Modi – for criticising the TRS government for not joining the “Ayushman Bharat” scheme.
In the last four and a half years, the TRS spent around “Rs 2 lakh crore on several welfare schemes, and the beneficiaries of these schemes will vote in favour of the TRS”, a senior TRS leader had said.
However, Shabbir Ali, who was Leader of Opposition in the Telangana Legislative Council, had said that KCR had “squandered” the state’s revenue surplus of Rs 301.20 crore on implementing such schemes. But the Congress itself has promised a number of such programmes and sops tailored for minority communities.
The success or failure of welfare schemes will play a crucial role in the Telangana polls.