Alleging a "more than tacit" alliance between Telangana's ruling party TRS and the BJP, senior Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy said today that the two parties could eventually join hands after the assembly polls.
Mr Reddy, who is seen as one of the tallest Congress leaders in the poll-bound state, also categorically ruled himself out of the chief ministerial race saying he was on the wrong side of age and won't even fight the assembly elections.
In an interview to PTI, the former Union minister dismissed as "outdated" the opinion polls predicting a victory for Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, saying there was a "silent wave" and a "fairly massive undercurrent" in favour of the Congress.
The Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), have decided to forge an alliance for the December 7 elections and are currently engaged in seat-sharing talks.
He said the Congress' alliance with Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP had been firmed up, while talks were on with CPI and TJS.
Mr Reddy alleged "there is a perfect understanding already between (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and KCR".
Asked if there was a possibility of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joining hands after the elections, he said, "100 per cent there is a possibility because there is no question of KCR getting 50 per cent seats this time and now given the fact the BJP also can get 6-7 seats on its own in Telangana, he may rush to BJP and AIMIM both, which will present a very odd picture."
"In that situation, I hope AIMIM will shrink in horror," he said.
However, Mr Reddy also stressed that such a situation would not arise as the Congress would be able to "muster up enough number of seats to form a government".
Asked if he was suggesting a tacit alliance between the TRS and the BJP, Mr Reddy said "an alliance (between the two) from the perspective of Telangana voters is almost open, it is more than tacit".
On KCR calling Rahul Gandhi a "buffoon" along with a persistent attack on the Congress, Mr Reddy said by using such strong words, the chief minister merely wants to sound confident, when he is not.
"I think KCR is getting nervous. I don't think he is very happy about his own decision to hasten the polls," Mr Reddy said.
KCR's decision to go in for the assembly polls ahead of the scheduled time has been seen in some quarters as his confidence, while others see the same as an attempt to avoid fighting state polls along with the general elections next year when the BJP is expected to put up a nationwide fight with Prime Minister Modi as its mascot.
KCR is also seen as looking to cash in on a situation where many believe there is no strong leader in the state among opposition parties.
Asked if he was among the front-runners in the Congress to be chief ministerial candidate in the state, 76-year-old Mr Reddy said, "No, I am not a runner at all, forget about being a front-runner. I may have my image, but I am on the wrong side of my age. I appreciate my limitations, apart from my physical problems."
On whether AIMIM would cut into the Congress' vote share, he said Asaduddin Owaisi was a "considerable force" in the old city of Hyderabad and the AIMIM will get their assembly seats, but asserted that it won't cut into the Congress's base in the rural areas or in the new city of Hyderabad.
Mr Reddy also claimed that the Owaisi brothers were not "exerting themselves too much" in the assembly polls for 119 assembly seats.
"I am confident the alliance led by the Congress party in Telangana will win the polls," he said, adding that there is a "tremendous" amount of anti-incumbency against the KCR-led government.
Asked about the TRS and BJP's criticism calling the Congress and TDP an opportunistic alliance, Mr Reddy said comparing the position when the TDP was formed to the current scenario was a "fatuous" debating point.
On the Congress not declaring a CM face, he said the party high command adopts a strategy depending upon each state and asserted that it would not make a difference to the outcome in Telangana as people were "voting against KCR".
He claimed that KCR made unrealistic promises such as giving "double bedroom house to everybody", three acres of land for each to every family of SC and ST communities, and 12 per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and colleges, but people took them seriously and therefore KCR won.
"There is a lot of reaction on account of non-fulfilment of these fantastic promises which had been taken seriously...more importantly, even other schemes which he (KCR) implemented were executed in a shabby and corrupt manner," Mr Reddy alleged.
He claimed that KCR and his family had become "symbols of rampant corruption".
"So, surveys are firstly outdated, and secondly opinion is rapidly undergoing a change. As elections are getting closer, people are getting bolder in expressing their disappointment," he said.
Mr Reddy said in his "hard assessment", he expects the Congress on its own to get about 70 seats.
"My own realistic view is that the Congress will pleasantly surprise everybody," he said.