Hyderabad: Of the four major parties contesting the Telangana elections, scheduled to be held on 7 December, the caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao-led Telugu Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has the most to lose while the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress party has the most to gain, say political analysts and leaders.

The Andhra Pradesh (AP) chief minister N.Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has the highest stakes, analysts add, as it fights for survival in a state that was carved out of AP in 2014. The results perhaps also hold the key to its own fortunes in AP when the state goes to polls with the rest of the country next year.

One of the last states going to the polls in 2018 before next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the focus has turned to the Telangana, which gives the Congress a chance to get another state under it rule. If so, it is likely to have an influence on the other regions in south India where the BJP has been unable to move past Karnataka.

For the TRS, who stormed into power with 63 (later increased to 90 duet to defections) out of the 119 seats in 2014, it would be the first time it faces the electorate over performance with an agenda other than the demand for statehood.

“His legacy is at stake and KCR also plans to ease his son to the forefront," Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, a Hyderabad based political analyst said. He added that Rao could also fear that his contribution in the formation of the state would be erased by the Congress, under whose government the decision to bifurcate a unified AP was made in 2014.

The Congress is making the most of it as former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has rarely stepped out of Delhi for election campaigns, landed in Telangana in the run upto the polls to address a public meeting in Telangana for the first time since the state was bifurcated.

‘We have given the state," is the Congress’ strategy to counter Rao--a reference that always ends with ‘Sonia Gandhi gave Telangana’. The party hopes to return to power, even if it means making more compromises like it did in Karnataka, where it surrendered all its advantage to the Janata Dal (Secular), including the CM’s chair, just to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power.

With 2019 fast approaching, the Congress has little time to waste and is willing to make more such compromises to help revive it nationally even at the cost of being seen as a party that cannot win on its own anymore, analysts say.

The ‘Maha Kutami’ (now Praja Kutami or people’s front), or alliance, led by the Congress has tried to incorporate all elements of winnability to gain ground in the state, which has 17 Lok Sabha seats.

Mohan Guruswamy, political analyst and Chairman of the Delhi based Centre for Policy Alternatives says that Congress-led alliance has all the elements to make a larger impact. “Congress does not enjoy the popular vote but has a strong organisation like its ally the CPI (Communist Party of India)," Guruswamy says and adds that TDP will go after the 15-16% of votes of (AP) settlers while the fourth partner, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) has eminent faces associated with the statehood agitation.

This combination, he says, gives the front a strong chance against Rao, who could cede ground on anti-incumbency sentiments, if any. The BJP, which has just five out of the 119 seats here, has also tried to show a sense of seriousness in the poll bound state and has announced an elaborate manifesto. It has also unleashed vicious attacks against the opposition parties, which it alleges has been practicing ‘minority appeasement’ to push its Hindutva agenda in the state.

The Congress claims that it has the backing of all the dominant caste groups like the Kamma’s and Reddy’s. But unlike several other parts of the country, Congress cannot claim full support of the minority vote here. Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and TRS also claim backing from the community in different parts of the state.

Though the BJP is reaching out to the so called socially backward classes by pointing at various sops given to the minorities by the TRS during its rule and Congress in its manifesto. Both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are scheduled to land in Telangana on Monday to make the last push in the state.

Given the prize, all parties contesting the polls, have upped its stakes.

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