Experts foresee possible scenarios: A BRS government with less majority, a BRS government with BJP and AIMIM support, or a Congress government.
Before the commencement of the election process in Telangana, the public's attention was captivated by a three-day Rajashyamala Sahitha Subramanyeswara Yagam conducted by Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (popularly known as KCR), the chief minister of Telangana and founder of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, at his farmhouse in Erravalli in Siddipet district.
According to his party, the yagam was performed for the state's well-being, with 170 Vedic priests from Telugu states, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka participating.
Criticism from the state Bharatiya Janata Party labelled it as a tantric puja while other parties doubted its electoral impact on KCR and his team this time.
Nevertheless, Telangana is witnessing a triangular contest between the BRS, the Congress, and the BJP, a shift from the 2018 scenario where the BRS (formerly the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) won 88 seats, the Congress secured around 19 seats, and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) claimed approximately seven seats.
In contrast, in 2014, the BRS won a simple majority of 63 seats, and despite being a formidable force now, the BJP only secured one seat in 2019, compared to five seats in 2014.
Voting for the 119-seat assembly in Telangana is scheduled for November 30.
The social sector initiatives implemented by the KCR government over the past nine years, such as Rythu Bandhu (also known as the farmer's investment support scheme), Dalit Bandhu (a welfare scheme for empowering Dalit families and enabling entrepreneurship among them), free power to farmers, pension schemes for single women, and the Kalyana Lakshmi scheme (providing financial assistance to unmarried women between ages 18 and 21), are perceived as major advantages for BRS.
"The BRS is banking on these 10 tp 12 welfare schemes, given Hyderabad city's contribution to Telangana's revenue after bifurcation," says Rama Krishna Sangem, a veteran journalist and political analyst. "The government claims 22,000 industries have been set up, employing 2.8 million people in the past nine years."
Additionally, KCR is credited with major investment projects like the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (a multi-purpose irrigation venture on the Godavari river in Kaleshwaram), Mission Kakatiya (a scheme for restoring all the minor irrigation tanks, ponds, and lakes in Telangana), and Mission Bhagiratha (a safe drinking water project for every village in Telangana).
According to Telangana's data, through TS-iPASS (Telangana State Industrial Project Approval and Self-Certification System), the state has attracted 22,745 industries, with investments exceeding Rs 2.6 trillion, creating employment for 1.75 million.
Political experts predict a two-digit number for the BJP, but party officials expect to form or be part of the government with a larger share of seats.
Naraparaju Ramchander Rao, a senior BJP leader, asserts, "In the triangular fight, the BJP will have a clear advantage. We have excellent chances in 35-40 seats. The visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the scene."
The BJP gained strength after winning two recent by-elections, with victories in Huzurabad (Etela Rajender) and Dubbaka (Madhavaneni Raghunandan Rao).
Modi promised Telangana would have its first OBC CM if the BJP was voted into power.
While the Congress, despite initiating the state formation plans, has seen KCR and his party reap the most benefits, it's gearing up with incentives for voters.
A senior political analyst notes, "There is a buzz in Telangana that the Congress is coming to power."
Congress incentives include monthly aid of Rs 2,500 for women, annual support of Rs 15,000 for farmers, 200 units of free electricity for eligible households, Vidya Bharosa cards worth Rs 5 lakh for students, and a monthly pension of Rs 4,000 for the elderly.
Interestingly, Yeduguri Sandinti Sharmila Reddy (the daughter of former undivided Andhra Pradesh CM Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR), chief of the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Telangana Party, has extended unconditional support to the Congress.
The BJP and the Jana Sena Party, led by actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan, are contesting the Telangana assembly polls together.
Criticism surrounds the BJP's perceived leniency by central machinery towards KCR and his family, particularly after the Delhi liquor policy scam involving KCR's daughter, Kalvakuntla Kavitha.
Telangana has 31,732,727 voters and the number of polling booths has increased to 35,356 from 32,812 in 2018.
As political parties gear up for a triangular contest, experts foresee possible scenarios: A BRS government with less majority, a BRS government with BJP and AIMIM support, or a Congress government.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com