Telangana’s Chanakya

Chanakya was one the gems that ancient India contributed to the world. His words of wisdom and works across a wide variety of domains including, economy, politics, strategy, diplomacy and warfare are used even today across the world by experts and for real-world application. In one of his books, he talks about the concept of pre-emption, a military strategy where one can gain an upper hand over the enemy by striking the enemy before they could initiate a strike. A reason why Chanakya’s philosophy is still relevant is owing to the fact that human conflicts are ongoing and it is necessary to resolve such conflicting situations at the earliest. And we do see a lot of leaders, politicians and bureaucrats using advices of ‘Chanakya Neeti’ to resolve crises. The former Telangana Chief Minister seems like the Chanakya of our times who used the combination of right time and political environment to strike his enemies and create a field necessary for the victory of his party in India’s youngest State. With the resignation from the office and the dissolution of the assembly, he calculates an early assembly election, which will then give him a relatively easier round of elections to continue in power in the State.

This would be one of the most brilliant moves that Indian politics has witnessed very recently. While dissolving the assembly and going for an early election can be inefficient from the viewpoint of fiscal prudence and public expenditure management, this is a highly efficient move from a political perspective. If he hadn’t dissolved the parliament, he and his party would have had to face the mandate of the people along with the national elections scheduled to happen in 2019 May. Apparently, KCR do not want the State elections to get influenced by the issues at the national level and hence, he opted to go for elections in 2018 December.

However, this might not be the only reason why the Chanakya went for an early dissolution of the parliament. As the news of an early election was not revealed until the last moment, this came as a surprise factor for many of the opposition parties, including BJP and Congress. This in a way was a strategic strike initiated by KCR against his political rivals so that his party cadre will get an upper hand over everything from grass root mobilisation to state-wide campaigns. Similarly, by creating an avenue for state polls separately from the national elections, he will be now able to project himself as the sole leader who can help the Telangana to progress further in terms of economic growth and development. Had he went for simultaneous State and National elections, he would have ended up facing competition from Rahul Gandhi as well as Narendra Modi, even in the assembly elections. Given that the State elections are happening alone and the bare fact that none of the other political parties in the State do have a charismatic leader like KCR, it would be an easy task for KCR himself to project as a leader with potential.

Going for simultaneous elections also would have meant that the party had to focus on both elections at the same time. With the latest development, now KCR and his followers can spend their time and energy fully-focused on the Assembly elections first, followed by the Loksabha Elections for electing the Members of Parliament. This will also help the party cadre to highlight the achievements of Telangana under the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) rule for the past four years. While there are few structural issues in terms of governance and development in the state, the level of anti-incumbency is relatively low compared to any other previous State elections. Thus, by playing this risky move, KCR is gambling his government’s achievements in the past couple of years against all odds raised by the opposition in the State.

Given that the move by KCR is one of the most well-calculated and thoughtful move, this also raises the questions of political integrity and wastage of public money. For instance, it was KCR who aligned with BJP in supporting the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ proposal to conduct simultaneous elections to both State and National assemblies. However, with the change in the political wind, he decided to revert from this earlier stand that he held. While it is the right of an individual to take decisions that he or she may deem as the best option to serve their interests, leaders who hold constitutional offices are expected to show consistency in their decision making process. Another issue that makes the early elections problematic is essentially the additional burden over the public resources that will be necessary for authorities to conduct the elections. Had the State elections were held simultaneously with the Loksabha elections at the end of the tenure of the State assembly’s period, this would have saved the precious public resources from inefficient use.

In politics, war and love, as the popular saying goes, all is fair and right. And the Chanakya in the Telangana politics went with what is fair and efficient for the future prospects of himself and his party.

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