No. of elections lined up in Andhra this year

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh will witness a series of elections in 2012, out of which, some of them are certain to happen, while some others are still `likely`, as things stand now.

Very soon, by-elections should be held for seven Assembly seats that fell vacant in November last, following the resignation of MLAs on different issues. Of the total seven, six seats are in Telangana region and the other in coastal Andhra.

However, by-elections will also become inevitable to 17 other seats – one in Telangana and the rest in Andhra-Rayalaseema regions – if as many MLAs, belonging to the ruling Congress and (one of) the erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), get disqualified for voting against the government in the Assembly in December last.

The disqualification petitions are expected to be disposed of in the next few days ahead of the ensuing budget session of the Legislature. Also, three Congress members of the Legislative Council are facing disqualification for going against the party and by-elections should be held for these seats as well, in the event of their disqualification.

Soon after the by-elections, biennial elections to six Rajya Sabha seats from the state are due in April. The outcome of the by-elections to the Assembly seats will determine whether or not the Congress government dares to go for the long overdue elections to urban local bodies as well as rural local bodies. But, the government will be left with no option except to conduct the local bodies` elections to avert any constitutional crisis.

Immediately thereafter, elections to co-operative institutions, which are also overdue, need to be held. But, all eyes are focused primarily on the by-elections – being dubbed as the `mini general elections` – for the Assembly seats, as the stakes are very high for the four main parties.

The fate of the Kiran Kumar Reddy government hinges on the outcome of the by-polls as, on its own, it has now been reduced to a minority in the 294-member House.

The government is continuing in office thanks only to the 17-member PRP (which is still a separate entity in the Assembly) and the 7-member Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. The principal opposition – Telugu Desam Party (TDP) desperately needs to win at least a few seats to prove that it is still a force to reckon with.

For the YSR Congress (YSRC) party, which pulled 16 MLAs from Congress and one each from TDP and PRP to its side, the by-polls will be a test of its ability to emerge as a potent alternative force in the state politics.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) needs to do well to showcase that the so-called `Telangana sentiment` is still strong and the demand for a separate state cannot be ignored. Of course, whatever it wins in the by-election, will be a `bonus` for the TRS, as all these seats were hitherto held by Congress and TDP (and one by an independent, whose death caused the by-poll in Mahbubnagar).

Barring Nagarkurnool in Mahbubnagar district, the TRS will contest from the other six constituencies in Telangana, while the YSR Congress has decided not to field its candidates in the region except in Parakal in Warangal district.

As things stand, the Congress and the TDP don`t seem to have even an outside chance of winning at least one seat in Telangana as the two parties are being branded as `betrayers` of the statehood cause.

There is widespread talk about a `tacit understanding` between TRS and YSRC in Telangana and this may work to the latter`s advantage in Parakal.

The current trends from Andhra-Rayalaseema regions indicate that the wind is blowing strongly in favour of YSRC president and Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, though, in three or four constituencies, there is said to be some antagonism towards the incumbent MLAs.

In those constituencies, Jagan is reportedly opting to field alternative candidates to avert possible defeat. Having probably got a wind of what`s in store for them, the Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Kiran and PCC president Botsa Satyanarayana are seeking to project the by-elections as "any other by-elections" and not a "referendum" on the government. This, clearly, is only seen as a face-saving attempt in the face of the grave adversity.