Could KCR's Gambit Of Forcing Early Telangana Elections Culminate In The General Elections Being Held Early?

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:

Extraordinary political events were witnessed in Hyderabad on Thursday as Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao not only dissolved the state's assembly and resigned from his position (only to be immediately reappointed as caretaker CM), but also jumped straight into campaign mode, announced 105 of 119 assembly candidates from his TRS party, and also issued a 'buffoon' attack at Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

KCR, in his long news briefing and interaction, hinted that he was operating under the presumption that the Telangana assembly elections would be held in November, which is a possibility. However, with his whirlwind (though completely orchestrated) actions, KCR may have set something larger in motion. Here are three options for what could happen next:

1. Telangana goes to the polls in November/December with four other states:

The run-up to 2019 will hit fever-pitch in just a few months as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram will go to the polls. Parties in all three states are already in campaign mode with the big national heavy-hitters likely to wade in with increasing frequency in coming weeks. Additionally, three of the states are BJP-held, presenting the Congress with a chance to leverage anti-incumbency and make a dent in the BJP's map of India, which currently counts an unprecedented number of 'Saffron' states. Elections in Telangana could also happen along with these.

2. Telangana goes to the polls on schedule with the Lok Sabha elections: 

Telangana is among those states that were set to go to polls in tandem with the 2019 General Elections, the others being Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. However, KCR's objective in dissolving the assembly was to capitalise on 'favourable conditions' now, meaning he is likely to resist any attempt to maintain the current electoral calendar.

3. Telangana elections and the Lok Sabha elections are held early, in 2019

Weeks ago, during Amit Shah's pitch for simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections (which saw the BJP party president writing to the Law Commission) sources had informed Republic TV that the BJP wouldn't be averse to what was described as the '11 state theory' -- that is 11 states that are to go to polls within about 6 months of the Lok Sabha elections would all see elections being held simultaneously. However, shortly after, the BJP had rejected the notion that this could happen. However, Telangana also going to the polls early could feasibly give rise to a scenario where Lok Sabha elections are also brought forward, along with the elections in the following states:

1. Madhya Pradesh - with a caretaker CM/Governor's rule implemented for the interim months. The BJP is currently in power with Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the helm since 2005. The Congress, however, is eyeing over a decade-worth of anti-incumbency with senior party leaders Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Rahul Gandhi mounting a sustained offensive to overcome the 165-58 deficit.

2. Chhattisgarh - with a caretaker CM/Governor's rule implemented for the interim months. Raman Singh has been chief minister since 2003 and the BJP has a 49-39 majority over the Congress in the current assembly.

3. Rajasthan - with a caretaker CM/Governor's rule implemented for the interim months. The BJP won a landslide 163-21 win versus the Congress in 2013 but CM Vasundhara Raje has come under sustained pressure from Sachin Pilot)

4. Mizoram - with a caretaker CM/Governor's rule implemented for the interim months. Mizoram is one of the few states where the Congress still has a government.

5. Odisha - If the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government goes the way of Telangana. Of late, the BJD has been concurring with- or not opposing the BJP on a number of matters, including the no-confidence motion, simultaneous elections and the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections

6. Telangana - with Governor's rule, for all intents and purposes, invoked, a decision on what's next must be taken in six months, i.e. by February. Furthermore, in the list of 105 MLA candidates announced by the TRS, the constituencies where the BJP is in power have been left out, leaving the door open for an alliance.

7. Andhra Pradesh - If the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government goes the way of Telangana. Naidu's intentions are harder to predict, having exited the NDA earlier this year

8. Haryana - If the BJP-majority assembly is dissolved ahead of schedule

9. Maharashtra - If the NDA-majority assembly is dissolved ahead of schedule

10. Jharkhand - If the BJP-majority assembly is dissolved ahead of schedule

Early elections could work either way for the BJP. On one hand, it would enable the Prime Minister to attempt to recreate the 'Modi wave' with the benefits being felt even in the assembly elections, rather than the effort that would be required to maintain it for almost a year. On the other hand, it would entail the BJP putting all its electoral eggs in one basket. For Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, on the other hand, the momentum gained in Karnataka could be translated into a large set of elections, rather than the risk that MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram elections could entail, with anti-incumbency benefits in those states remaining in play.