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Parties fight for Telangana throne with eye on Delhi
While the battle is now primarily framed as one between TRS and the Maha Kootami, each of these five actors has a distinct public narrative about what it stands for and its own private motivations.

  When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a mammoth rally in Hyderabad on Monday evening, he claimed there were five main forces in Telangana — the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While the battle is now primarily framed as one between TRS and the Maha Kootami, each of these five actors has a distinct public narrative about what it stands for and its own private motivations. Conversations with political players and informed observers indicate that while this election is a battle for Hyderabad publicly, for each party, the aim is to strengthen its hand in the battle for Delhi.

TRS

TRS chief and caretaker chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has said that he called for early elections because he wants to get over with state polls and focus on creating a non-Congress, non-BJP federal front nationally.

This may be true. But what is also true is that TRS’s primary rival in the state is Congress. And because the Congress’s primary rival nationally is BJP, which is a minor player in Telangana, KCR has a shared political interest with the BJP. This perhaps explains why his party has repeatedly supported the Modi government at the Centre; and why the TRS is one of the potential allies of the future post-2019 National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formation. KCR’s manoeuvring space is now even more limited because his arch rival, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, has placed himself firmly as one of the anchors of the anti-BJP alliance nationally. So, the election is a high-stakes one for the TRS.

Congress

The Congress’s main claim is that while the TRS government has been marked by family rule and corruption, its own alliance will offer a new template of clean and progressive governance.

Privately, four factors are driving the Congress. One, it has felt that despite taking a major political gamble in creating Telangana and destroying its interests in Andhra Pradesh, it was never rewarded. This election is about winning that prize and putting itself in a better position to win the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2019. Two, it is motivated by a recognition that if the TRS wins, the BJP can count on it as an ally nationally.
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