(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
By a miracle, Congress formed Telangana government. The victory is due to Revanth Reddy’s leadership. Since 1967, Congress has never defeated a regional party in power. Of course, when Telugu Desam was in united Andhra Pradesh, there were only 2 parties. Now, in Telangana, like rest of India, it is a multiple-party state. Defeating KCR was no ordinary task. The question of course remains whether Congress won because of anti- KCR feeling or because of the “Guarantees”. Delhi Congress Party feels that it is its “Guarantees” which won the election. Therefore, whatever the cost, the “Guarantees” must be implemented.
1. Some Guarantees have already been implemented. Free- Bus for women is already in operation. Without doubt, all the other Guarantees will be implemented in a month.
2. Revanth Reddy government is facing a deadline of parliament elections. It has to perform well in parliament elections or will face political trouble. So, Revanth Reddy government will implement the Guarantees.
3. Generally, political opponents of Congress question where the funds will come from for Guarantees’. The critics talk of long-term damage to Telangana and big debt for Telangana. But, in reality, the Guarantees need to be only implemented for another 4 months and after that, Government can review everything.
4. Revanth government only needs to find money for 4 months to implement Guarantees. Such funds are available. The greatest economist of last 200 years is John Keynes. Keynes famously said, “In the long run, we are all dead”. Keynes meant that only the short-term matters and for the Guarantees, Government needs to think of only 4 months expenditure. Things which Revanth Reddy did well:
a. Revanth Reddy is keen on having good relations with Governor and Prime Minister. Perhaps, Revanth Reddy has observed the controversies which KCR created by fighting with them. Revanth Reddy obviously knows that such fights are “useless with no gain “. But time will tell whether Revanth Reddy will maintain dignified relations with Governor and Prime minister.
b. One outstanding thing Revanth Reddy did was to find solutions for the Telangana Public Service Commission and frequent leakage of papers. Revanth Reddy’s meeting with UPSC Chairman has made people praise the surprising way that he sought the best help in the country to solve TSPSC failures. c. Revanth has also stopped a “whimsical type of governance “. Obviously, Revanth is bringing professionalism to governance. There was administrative chaos earlier.
Challenges of 2024 parliament election; a. The coming parliament elections are main challenge for Revanth Reddy. The election is only 4 months away and Revanth Reddy is depending on implementation of Guarantees to seek votes. But that is not enough to win MP seats. People expect more than just welfare schemes. KCR implemented welfare schemes too.
b. The middle classes of Telangana are a big vote bank, and they don’t care for welfare schemes because they don’t get any of it. Government has nothing for Middle classes. Revanth Reddy has to find some” Guarantees “for middle classes. In the Congress manifesto, Middle classes are forgotten.
c. Parliament elections are a big chance for KCR party to show that it still has a base. KCR Party must not only win some MPs but hope that Congress does not do well. For KCR party, the biggest opponent is Revanth Reddy and not the BJP.
d. BJP will be a very big challenger to Congress, as Modi is Prime Minister candidate. Modi and other senior BJP leaders are very familiar figures, as for the last 10 years they frequently visit Telangana. There is no doubt that Modi is popular. The BJP can definitely give a very tough fight.
e. The Chief Minister is more popular than any national or state Congress leader. But Revanth Reddy is not the Prime minister candidate. That is the big problem for Congress.
f. Both KCR party and Congress are anti-BJP parties. In any other state, they would have united. Such parties are uniting in Delhi, Punjab and Bengal. But efforts might be made in Delhi to bring them together. Of course, a defeated KCR is not so attractive in Delhi. As things stand, there can be no unity between BJP and KCR Party. Congress can take advantage of BJP problems too: One major weakens of Telangana BJP is that it has been unkind to new entrants. Many stalwarts came to the BJP and the main reason is the insider-outsider fight in BJP. There is no doubt that in Telugu states the old BJP leaders prevent newcomers and when they come, they are sidelined. The national BJP has been generous to outside entrants into BJP in other states. But here, retired leaders get great jobs. What is their use? Congress can take full advantage of this weakness of the BJP. Every plan has weaknesses. Un-expected things happen, and all plans get blown away. The biggest threat to Revanth Reddy is un-expected events. The other danger for Revanth r3eddy is that he must be given full freedom to work and not be under the shadow of the Delhi High command. One big reason for the defeat of the Chhattisgarh Congress party is that the Chief minister was seen to be a puppet of Delhi. That danger should be avoided in Telangana.
(Author is a senior Political and Economic Analyst based in Delhi)