Hyderabad: S. Vinoda, 47, had hoped that the Telangana government’s decision to waive all farm loans up to 1 lakh would help her clear her 30,000-odd debt, especially as both her husband and father-in-law died a few years ago. However, that loan waiver never came and the widow endured hardship to pay off the amount.

“I had two acres of land and I lost one acre because of my loans. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government’s loan waiver never happened," said Vinoda, a native of Togarpally village in Sangareddy district. Like her, many farmers across different districts of Telangana maintain that the TRS’s loan waiver never happened or that they did not benefit from it, as it was done in four instalments, allowing interest to accrue.

The issue, combined with a sense of disappointment with the TRS for not fulfilling some of its promises made to the people, might pose a problem for caretaker chief minister and party chief K. Chandrashekar Rao, who is seeking re-election for a second term in the 7 December Telangana polls.

Ever since Rao dissolved the assembly on 6 September, he and his party leaders have maintained that the TRS will win close to 100 of the 119 seats in the forthcoming polls. That confidence perhaps comes from the many welfare and populist programmes his government launched since it won the 2014 Telangana polls. The government also managed to ensure 24-hour electricity across the state.

Despite this, there is an undercurrent of anger among people across Telangana’s rural areas.

“I have applied for a two-bedroom house to the state government four times, but nothing has come of it. Last election I voted for Telangana, but I don’t know this time," said B. Nagaiah, a native of Ramachandragudem village in Nalgonda district.

His words that he voted “for Telangana", synonym for having voted for the TRS in 2014, resonates among many people who decided to give Rao a chance as he fought for Telangana’s statehood. Rao’s promises then also included providing 200,000 double-bedroom houses for the poor and delivering drinking water through tap connections (for which the state government initiated the Mission Bhagiratha drinking water project).

Even the first-of-its-kind ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme, under which land-owning farmers get 4,000 per acre (for both rabi and kharif seasons) each year, did not seem to make all the 5.8 million beneficiaries happy.

“The farming costs come down for a little but the loan waiver was not done. KCR also promised us water and even that has not come. This election will be a tough one for the TRS," opined Ananth Rao, another farmer from Togarpally village in Sangareddy district.

N. Suryamma, 65, another resident from Togarpally village was also upset with the TRS, given the huge expectations she had. “I have been voting for the Congress since my marriage, but I chose KCR last time," she said.

In the forthcoming polls, the TRS faces an opposition alliance formed by the Congress party, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Communist Party of India and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS). Rao’s party had won 63 seats in 2014, while the Congress won 21, TDP 15, Bharatiya Janata Party 5 and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) 7. The TRS’s numbers went to nearly 90 subsequently, thanks to large-scale defections from the opposition.

“There is also a large section of tenant farmers in the state who were not covered under the Rythu Bandhu scheme, and a large section of them are Dalits. Those votes are likely to go to the Congress. The loan waiver was done over for years, and only about 60% of the loans have been cleared for farmers. So will farmers will get fresh loans? That question has to be answered," said Hyderabad-based political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Reddy said the results this election could be a close one, but that Rao’s TRS has the advantage as of now. “There is going to be a strong challenge by the alliance in many constituencies across the state," he said.

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