Thursday, May 1, 2014

Whill NCBN make a comeback?

In a little less than a week, Andhra Pradesh, without Telangana and its crown jewel, Hyderabad, goes to polls to elect their MPs as well as a new state Assembly. This will be the first Assembly election for the state in this form since Hyderabad state was cut up and Telangana was merged with Andhra Pradesh. In that sense, this is a historic election.

While the new state of Telangana is rich in resources and will start with a surplus budget (primarily because of Hyderabad), Seemandhra has some infrastructure, particularly electricity, that can help the state start off as a manufacturing hub. But for all that to happen, the state needs a good CM as well as a favorable Central Government in Delhi. At least, this is how some of the voters seem to be thinking.

The TDP is contesting in the area in alliance with the BJP. However, the BJP could be a possible liability for the alliance given the fact that it supported the bifurcation of the state. However, the prevailing logic in the TDP seems to be that riding the Modi wave and promising people concessions from Delhi is the best way to go about it instead of fighting a losing battle like Nitish Kumar. Polls show that the TDP-BJP combine could possibly land a majority in the new Assembly.

The other contender is the YSRC which, at one time, seemed to be just one election away from sweeping the state. But the last two months and the formation of the TDP-BJP alliance have put serious question marks over its chances. The youth in particular seem to be moving away from this party, which is seen to be the most corrupt of the lot and yet enjoys popularity because of YSR's work. There is a very real possibility of a hung Assembly or even an Assembly where either front enjoys a very slender majority.

As for the Congress, the way it bifurcated the state has made it a near non-entity. The anger is so palpable that several key faces of the party - including former Union Minister D Purandeshwari, who received praise even from the Prime Minister, defected to the BJP. And this is only the tip of the iceberg - there has been a veritable conveyor belt of defections from the Congress, benefiting all its opponents in both states. The party, whose fortunes have historically been tied to the Telugu-speaking state, seems to have been wiped out for at least a decade by nothing more than its own doing.

And then, there is Chandrababu Naidu, the former CM who built Hyderabad to what it is today (or was, before the Congress destroyed it). The election in Andhra Pradesh is key for him because another term outside power could seal his future. This is possibly his last chance to prove that he is politically relevant as his opponents - KCR and YSR - went far ahead of him after his defeat in 2004. There is hope in Andhra Pradesh that he can do to the next capital (Vijaywada, Vishakhapatnam or maybe something else?) what he did to Hyderabad. And that just might be Naidu's trump card in 2014. 

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