Hyderabad: Elections to Urban Local Bodies in Andhra Pradesh this month will be the first political challenge for major political parties in the state in the post-division scenario.
The elections, slated for March 30, will be held three-and-a-half years behind schedule and will determine where each party stands ahead of the general elections.
The urban local bodies elections will be held on a political basis in 146 municipalities and 10 municipal corporations across the state.
The political scene remained hazy in the last few days after Parliament cleared the AP Reorganisation Bill-2014.
But now, the picture has become somewhat clear, at least in Telangana, after the Telangana Rashtra Samiti refused to merge with the Congress.
A lot is at stake for Congress which is going to town in Telangana claiming credit for creation of a separate state. In coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, however, it is pushing the division blame on to the opposition parties. The ULB polls will reveal whether it could cut ice with the electorate in both the regions with its conflicting claims.
For the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party, which is virtually fighting for its existence, the ULB elections will be an acid test in Telangana as much as in Seemaandhra.
Despite openly supporting the creation of Telangana state, the TDP is facing the accusation of covertly trying to block the bifurcation.
In Seemaandhra, it is being projected as one of the ‘villains’ in the piece for enabling the state’s division.
The TDP, thus, finds itself in an unenviable position in Telangana and Seemaandhra even as its supremo N Chandrababu Naidu is spiritedly seeking to counter the attacks with his “development” agenda in both regions.
Will he be able to win the confidence of the electorate on either side of the divide is the big question haunting the TDP’s rank and file.
The TRS, on the other hand, is upbeat. Having finally secured statehood for Telangana at the end of a 13-year-old struggle, it is set to cash-in on the euphoria in its latest “political” avatar.
The TRS is now keen on capturing every political space that is on offer in the region to build a “modern Telangana”.
The one player keenly being watched, mainly in Seemaandhra, is the YSR Congress that altered its stance towards a united state.
The three-year-old party, which once rode a high popularity wave, is now steadily seeing a dip in its fortunes in its perceived bastion while losing all its moorings in Telangana.
The ULB polls will be a preliminary test for the YSRC to establish whether it is still a force to reckon with in Seemaandhra.
The outcome of the ULB elections will make the parties sit up and redraw their strategies for the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls that will be a different ball game altogether.
It may also lead to some political realignment in the state that will formally become two after the end of the general elections.