The Congress-led Maha Kootami or grand alliance is struggling to reach a consensus over sharing of seats enabling the ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi to gain a head start in campaigning for the assembly elections less than six weeks away in Telangana.

The one-time rivals – Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS ) and the Communist Party of India – have come together on the eve of the state election to fight a common enemy in chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR.

TJS founder Prof Kodandaram, an ideologue of Telangana movement and an ally of KCR during the statehood movement before falling out with him, is reportedly seeking 35-40 seats, while TDP wants 20-25 seats and even the CPI has laid claim for 12 seats.

All the smaller parties are demanding that Congress make ‘sacrifices’ to ensure that the alliance prevails. The Congress, according to sources, wants its alliance partners to be realistic and is ready to concede three to seven seats to the TJS, four to CPI and 12 seats to the TDP.

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Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttamkumar Reddy said, while speaking to the media, on Tuesday he is confident that the Maha Kootami will turn out to be a well-oiled machine to face the elections and “will shortly overcome all the minor hiccups in seat sharing.”

The TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday asked his party’s leaders from Telangana to be pragmatic in staking the claim for seats and keep in mind its winning prospects, lest it benefits the TRS. He was speaking at a meeting with the leaders in Hyderabad.

The TDP, the once predominant regional party in undivided Andhra Pradesh formed on an anti-Congress plank, is now facing an existential problem in the new state forcing it into an alliance with the grand old party in contravention of its core ideology.

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“We are ready for give and take. We are fully flexible so as to pursue our common election objective of defeating the TRS,” TDP’s Telangana unit president L Ramana said.

Prof Kodandaram expressed hope that the Congress, as a major partner, will honour the self-pride of his party by ensuring a fair deal in seat sharing.

Congress spokesperson Sravan Dasoju justified the delay in seat sharing within the grand alliance.

“After all, it’s a democratic platform which believes in mutual consensus and respect for sentiments of others unlike the TRS led by a despot-like KCR,” he added.

The TRS, on the other hand, has already released a list of candidates for the 112 seats out of 119. And, KCR has launched a whirlwind campaign and covered five districts nearly a month and a half before the announcement of the election date.

Its spokesperson P Sudhakar Reddy said the grand alliance lacks harmony in terms of common ideology and common agenda as being witnessed “during the wrangling over sharing of seats. The alliance partners are worried over internal contradictions that will rock the boat soon after the allotment of seats, hence the delay.”

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K Nageswar, a political analyst, said while the grand alliance does face challenges in seat sharing even the TRS is facing its own set of issues.

“KCR, by announcing candidates early, thought he would be free of dissidence and discontent. But it didn’t work out that way as TRS MLC Ramulu Naik and its Khanapur MLA Ramesh Rathod deserted TRS and shifted loyalties to Congress recently. Another lady MLA Konda Surekha representing Warangal quit the TRS a while ago,” he added.

“So ensuring a smooth ticket distribution is a challenge facing both the grand alliance as well as the TRS.”

Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Telangana on December 7 and the result will be declared on December 11. #KhabarLive

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