In what could be considered a test of its popularity in the state, and the country at large, the Indian National Congress has set its sights on the upcoming Panchayat Polls due to take place in July, as an indicator of its success in the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections to take place in 2019. Currently wooing the farmers of Telengana, a senior leader of the Congress party said that the party had been in the process of mobilizing the farmers to garner their support, for over a year now. He was confident that these efforts would meet with success, and trusted that the farmers would see through the tactics of their rivals, predominantly the Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and current party in power in the state, and give them the support that they needed.
The TRS has been offering a cash incentive to farmers of up to Rs. 4,000 per acre, an amount intended to assist the farmers in buying the necessary materials needed to go about earning their livelihood. Labelled the “Rythu Bandhu” programme, political rivals see it as just another guise for buying votes from farmers. To this end, the Congress party in particular has suffered a strength in numbers after eight of its twenty-one MLAs defected to the TRS after the assembly polls in 2014. Furthermore, in 2016, the TRS had a solid showing for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls, winning 99 seats out of a total 150 corporator seats, which was in stark contrast to the Congress party which won only two seats.
With the Panchayat polls immediately around the corner, it will interesting to note if the ruling TRS feels any pressure from other political parties trying to etch out their own bases in India’s newest state.