People’s Pulse, a Hyderabad-based political research organization, has done an extensive field study of eight integrated districts (21 present districts) in Telangana to elicit people’s opinions and gauge the mood of the people. This report presents preliminary observations and draws conclusions.
The research team of People’s Pulse consisting of research scholars spent 15 days in the field, travelling 3,137 km, visiting more than 1,000 people in 102 villages (70% of them were in the interiors and away from the main roads) to gain insight into the public mood and the prevailing election atmosphere.
The team held focused and in-depth discussions with farmers, farm labour, women, youth, minorities, Dalits, backward classes and communities from the forward castes. Detailed discussions were also held with employees, both from government and private sectors. The survey covered Rangareddy, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Khammam, Medak, Warangal, Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts (Rangareddy Vikarabad, Mahabubnagar, Jogulamba Gadwal, Wanaparthy, Nagarukurnool, Nalgonda, Suryapet, Khammam, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Mahabubabad, Warangal Rural, Jayashankar Bhupalpally, Peddapalli, Karimnagar, Jagtial, Rajanna Sircilla, Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Medak and Sangareddy districts), spread across 44 Legislative Assembly constituencies.
The main focus of this study is to understand the people’s mood about the government dissolving the Assembly before nine months. As a result of this, we had to focus on the alliances being attempted by Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, TDP, CPI and TJS, the mood about the TRS government’s performance and the disposition of the voters towards their sitting MLAs. During the course of this, we gained insight about the popular leaders, the role of the BJP and the Bahujan Left Front.
It is important to mention that the present TRS government is the first after statehood was granted to Telangana, which was a decades-long dream for the people. Alongside, we dwelt on whether the aspirations of the people that their lives and fortunes would improve after statehood were met and if so to what extent. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi is pretty strong in the perception of the voters. There, however, is a tangible weakening of that perception from before the dissolution of the Assembly on September 6 and after that. The feeling that the TRS is unbeatable is no longer there. The reason is that people have now suddenly found an opportunity to ventilate their feelings comprehensively after the 2014 elections.
The two contributing factors for this is that the media failed to highlight or even report the issues that were playing on the people’s mind. The other is that the main Opposition party, the Congress, was singularly hopeless in bringing issues into the public domain and engage the people on those aspects. Despite all these, the fact remains that the only leader having a good pan-Telangana image is the Chief Minister Mr. Chandrashekar Rao. There is no leader anywhere around who can rival his standing.
1) The first thing is that there is no support from the people for dissolving the Assembly. On the contrary, people are upset and are openly questioning why Mr. Chandrashekar Rao went in for early elections when they had given him a mandate for a full five-year term.
2) There is a general feeling that the government has not delivered what it promised during the 2014 elections. “It is only a government of words but not deeds,” was a commonly heard refrain.
3) People are not able to recollect many welfare schemes, though the government claims it has announced and implemented over 75 welfare schemes in the last four years.
4) Even though recall value exists for about half-a-dozen welfare schemes, there are objections, apprehensions and suggestions for improvement that are outweighing appreciation.
5) In most of the constituencies, there is a lot of anti-incumbency against sitting TRS MLAs. A good number of MLAs who have been re-nominated are facing protests from their constituents.
6) While rooted politicians and MLAs with more than two terms have reputation and goodwill, newcomers and the first time MLAs have become notorious for not being available to the people and not responding to their issues.
7) In a few districts in north Telangana, though the voters expressed their discontent, they wanted to vote for the TRS to give them another chance in power to prove themselves. Alongside they also harboured a fear that the programmes might be stopped midway if it doesn’t come to power again.
8) The creation of new districts has no effect. People don’t know why it was done. Instead of simplifying administration and governance people continue to face hardships because of the new dispensation.
9) Overall there is no governance to talk about at the grassroots level. There is no accountability among the employees. On the contrary a good section of them think they are a law unto themselves as they claim to the played the crucial role in the separate statehood movement. As a consequence corruption has reached high levels as the required checks and balances in administration have gone creaky.
10) Such is the callousness of the administration, the lack of accountability and irresponsibility that even though the government unveiled several schemes the delivery systems failed. Subsequently, the beneficiaries were clueless on how to access a particular scheme. Thereby, the government failed to receive the required mileage.