With the Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTC) and Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTC) elections set to be held from 6 May (in three phases), the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana is looking to virtually take control of all the elected bodies in the state. Having close to 100 MLAs (including defections) out of the total 119 in the assembly, TRS leaders said that their party is now looking to win between 350-400 of the 530-odd ZPTC posts that are going to polls.
The ruling party will in fact be going into the rural boy polls in high spirits having swept the assembly elections last year by winning 88 of the 119 seats (more than 10 opposition MLAs have defected to the TRS since). Besides that, in the Panchayat elections in January, about 60% of the winning candidates who won from the 12,734 (of the total 12,751) gram Panchayats and 1,13,190 wards (out of the total 1,13,354) were TRS-backed.
In fact, the TRS has also said that it will win 16 of the 17 (except the Hyderabad constituency, which the is a bastion of the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) Lok Sabha seats in the general elections which were held on 11 April. “We are easily going to win 350 to 400 of the MPTCs. And most likely independent or opposition candidates who win also will join us after the results," remarked a senior TRS leader, who did not want to be quoted.
In fact, such is the scare of defections from the main opposition Congress (10 of its 19 MLAs have already defected to the ruling party) to the TRS, led by chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, that the grand old party has now begun to take undertakings from its ZPTC and MPTC candidates, that they will not shift loyalties after winning.
“Such things like taking undertakings from its candidates will not work. The Congress has lost all credibility in the state and there is no opposition," remarked the TRS leader, who also added that the ruling party is in a strong position due to which there might not be much campaigning from its side.
In the coming rural elections, out of the total 539 ZPTCs, 538 will be going to polls (legal issues to be settled in one seat), while 5,817 out of the total 5,857 MPTCs are going for polling in three phases starting 6 May.
“MPTC and ZPTC elections are based on the political situation in the state. What has happened in Telangana is that defections to TRS has affected the cadre’s morale in the Congress. Voters will not think of local issues, but larger issues. Now they will even think twice before voting, given that their vote might get wasted if the candidate one has voted for later defects," said A. Chandrasekhar, coordinator of the Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.