While the rest of India gears up for the Lok Sabha polls, Andhra Pradesh is set to witness another interesting political fight for the forthcoming assembly elections. The ever changing permutations and combinations have ensured that the electoral battle for the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies and 294 assembly segments will be an interesting one.
The major players in the fray are the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, the Telengana Rastriya Samithi and actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam Party.
While political observers were betting on the PRP to sweep the polls, the Congress bounced back into the fray. Not to be outdone, the TDP teamed up with the TRS and the Left parties, again changing the political equations in the state.
Not surprisingly, the caste factor will play a major role in both elections. Sadashiva Reddy, a political observer and advocate, told rediff.com that once again, voters would cast their votes according to their caste preferences. The Kapus or the fishermen community will vote for Chiranjeevi's PRP, the Kammas are expected to vote for Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, and Congress leader and AP Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy will receive a major share of the Reddy votes.
The Telangana statehood issue might be another deciding factor for political parties. With 107 assembly seats and 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in their kitty, the people of Telangana, who have been demanding a separate state for decades, can propel any party to power.
While the Telangana Rastriya Samithi is the key player in this part of Andhra Pradesh, other political parties are not far behind. The Congress had promised to create a new Telangana state and even teamed up with the TRS before the 2004 polls.
However, the party has failed to fulfill its promise. But YSR has categorically stated that the Congress has no objections to the formation of the state.
Chiranjeevi, who was initially non committal about this issue, has now agreed to support the creation of a new Telanagana state. The megastar is expected to garner a fair share of votes from his fan base in this region.
The Grand Alliance comprising the TRS, TDP and the Left Front might prove to be a road block to the aspirations of the Congress and the PRP. The TDP, which won only one Lok Sabha seat last time, has learnt its lesson and has promised to make the Telanagana issue the top priority.
Power, unemployment, price rise
The Congress had promised free power supply to farmers before the last elections. Having kept this promise, the Congress will play up this achievement.
The TDP will use unemployment as a major election issue. It has alleged that the Congress government has not been able to address the issues of unemployment and price rise.
Star power is another factor that will play a major role in the battle of the ballot. While megastar Chiranjeevi has already made his presence felt in the political arena, other popular film stars like Balakrishna and Junior NTR from the Telegu Desam Party and Jayasudha from the Congress have also made their mark.