The venue of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's big meeting today is soaked in overnight rain
New Delhi: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao stopped short of announcing early assembly election in the state -- slated for next April -- but said a decision will be taken soon. At a huge rally in Ranga Reddy district Mr Rao spoke of the state's gifts to farmers that had fuelled speculation about early polls. He also questioned whether the people wished to be "slaves of Delhi parties" - a comment seen as a counter to the perception of his growing affinity to the BJP as well as a snub to the Congress.
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"Do you want to be slaves of Delhi? Just like Tamil Nadu does not act enslaved to Delhi, similarly in Telangana too, we will rule ourselves with self-respect, without bowing to Delhi parties," said Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has been pitching for a non-Congress-non-BJP Federal Front for months.
The Chief Minister said the state cabinet met earlier on Sunday afternoon and authorised him to take a decision soon "in the interest of Telangana, the TRS and the people"."I will take a decision soon (on assembly dissolution) and then announce what I will do if TRS is elected again," he said.
Mr Rao has been seen to be on the backfoot after a perception that he has entered a secret understanding with the BJP. This was fuelled by two consecutive meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, followed by a vote for the government in the recent elections for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman's post.
Last weekend, the Chief Minister also went to Delhi and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others, triggering speculation that he had gone to push for early elections. BJP president Amit Shah is also said to have conveyed to his party leaders in Telangana that elections to the state will be held by the year-end and they must gear up for it.
The term of the TRS government is till May 2019, and elections, as per schedule, should happen along with Lok Sabha elections.
Reacting to the Chief Minister's dig at the Congress, state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy said it was KCR and the TRS that acted like "gulams (slaves)" to PM Modi and the BJP. Senior Congress leader Hanumantha Rao said the meeting was more like a big party thrown for the TRS cadre as busloads of people were seen being served liquor and handed cash.
The mammoth rally at the 2,000-acre venue dubbed Pragathi Nivedhana Sabha at Ranga Reddy district, billed as the mother of all meetings, saw people -- including around one lakh farmers on 10,000 tractors and women in big numbers -- mobilised from all districts. For hours, the road leading to the venue, 25 km out of Hyderabad, was choc-a-bloc.
The Chief Minister has made major announcements for virtually every sector including the Rythu Bandhu or direct cash transfer scheme for farmers. Under this scheme farmers will get Rs. 4000 per acre per season. Of the Rs. 12,000 crore allocated for this scheme, Rs. 6000 crore has already reached the farmers' bank accounts.
The Chief Minister claimed Telangana is the "No 1 state in country for the last four years in financial growth" and this was made possible because of his "commitment towards progress".
The opposition Congress claims the fresh welfare commitments could push the state from being revenue rich to revenue deficit. According to estimates, these could cost the state Rs. 60,000 crore.