With the process of filing nominations coming to an end, the battle lines have been drawn for the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana, in what appears to be mainly a three-cornered contest between the ruling TRS, Congress and the BJP.
The state, that has 17 Lok Sabha constituencies, will vote in the first phase of elections on April 11.
Bolstered by its thumping win in the Assembly polls in December last, TRS has set itself a target of winning 16 seats, leaving the Hyderabad seat to its ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).
TRS working president KT Rama Rao has said in campaign meetings that neither the NDA nor the UPA is in a position to form a government on its own.
TRS can play a key role at the Centre and ensure a better deal for Telangana if it wins 16 seats, he had said.
In addition to its own strength, TRS has the backing of Asaduddin Owaisi, which is expected to help the party get minority votes.
The main opposition Congress is going it alone in the Lok Sabha polls.
Still smarting under its humiliating defeat in the Assembly polls (it secured only 19 of the total of 119 seats), the Congress suffered a major blow this month with as many as nine legislators announcing their decision to quit the party to join TRS.
The opposition CPI and Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS), who are contesting in only a couple of seats each, have declared their support and help to the Congress. However, there is no formal alliance between the parties.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the ruling party in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, has decided not to field candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, a first since its formation in 1982. The TDP has in principle acceded to the Congress'' request for support.
Having suffered a drubbing in the Assembly elections (winning only one seat among 119), BJP is contesting all the seats on its own.
The party is banking heavily on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Political analyst Telakapalli Ravi feels it will be a cakewalk for TRS as the Congress has lost its strength following desertions.
"It appears like a one-sided contest. Instead of consolidating themselves after the defeat in the Assembly polls, they (Congress) have deteriorated. Many key leaders are leaving the party," he told news agency PTI.
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