While our platform shows TRS ahead, it does not appear to be a cakewalk compared to 3-4 months ago. While many attribute it to a stronger alliance (which is true), there are deeper issues
The Slow Pace of growth in Rural Telangana
Over the last 5 years, the TRS has implemented a variety of interventions in agriculture
- Loan waiver Program to reduce Farm Stress
- Large scale spending in Rural irrigation which included large irrigation projects and mission kaktiya to increase water availability
- Rythu Bandhu to reduce cost of production for the farmer.
Intuitively, all of these sound good but here is how wealth increased in rural Telangana versus rest of country
Just so tha no one argues about whether this is the fair comparison, Karnataka grew by 62%, Maharashtra grew by 69%. Whether it is All India average, average against states with less rain like Maharashtra or states that are not as medium strength states like Karnataka, Telangana has significantly under-performed. What went wrong?
Primarily, Poor Execution of the above initiatives
The Loan waiver programme was delivered over multiple years making their impact far lesser than they could have been, The Large Irrigation projects are still to be delivered, Tanks while intuitively a great idea were not supported by strong science initiatives on the ground leading to less than optimal benefits. For, while the Telangana Agriculture budget (which 81% lower than Karnataka) grew at a slower pace than Karnataka (until 2017-18) . The rythu bandhu scheme is intuitively a good scheme but handing over more cash (in a way akin to a loan waiver) has not proven to deliver better agriculture production and growth in wealth.
Secondary, lack of focus on developing agriculture markets
The biggest plus points of both Maharashtra and Karnataka compared to Telangana was enabling greater price realisation amongst their farmers. Whether it is fiddling with the Mandis or creating online portals, these States have done what they could have in getting the best for their Farmers. Not so in Telangana
Overall, it is the absence of a 360 approach towards agriculture and excess emphasis on just two input variables hurt the farmers and hence the overall underperformance by Telangana
Even if some or many of the Farmers(7.2m) were happy, they donot constitute more than 25% of the voters (26.1m).
The bigger issue in rural Telangana for TRS is the issue of agriculture labourer who has hardly benefitted from any of the above Government livelihood support initiatives. Agriculture labour make up for about 23% of the voting population and could cause serious trouble for the Government.
Promises not met
Usually, politicains are careful about promises but not KCR. Two days he ago, he lashed at a muslim youth for reminding him about the 12% reservation promised to Muslims during 2014. But it is not just this, whether it creation of jobs for Youth, a Dalit CM, 3 Acres for Dalits, 2 Bedrooms for the poor and numerous other manifesto promises have gone unfulfilled.
It is almost like the CM has found various ways to anger every single voting population in the State
Inability to attract Investments in the State
At the outset it looks like Telangana is rocking. But lot of it was around the base built by the previous TDP and Congress Governments. In the recent NCAER rankings on Investment potential, Telangana ranked in the top-6 in just 2 criteria - Land availability and Economic climate. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka ranked in 3 criteria each, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in 4 each. Telangana was a clear underperformer amongst the Southern States. An Assocham report claims Telangana was the top in South India but it was for the period 2012-17. That means it included 2 years from the previous Congress regime. Rest of the claims just come from the IT ministry. Investments coming from Apple etc are continuation of big investments made by other biggies including Microsoft and Google. Which is also one reason why Apple invested in Bangalore at the same time. This is one reason why the unemployment situation in the State is struggling.
Ignoring the needs of Urban Population
Nearly 40% of the State population live in the cities. Hyderabad makes up for nearly 20% of the State's population. In 2018, it was ranked number 1 in India in the quality of life Index. This translated to a Global rank of 142. In 2015, Hyderabad was ranked 138, indicating a fall of 4 ranks. The 2015 data was collected in later half of 2014. The fall in ranks is not surprising. Inspite of TRS being in control of the Municipal corporation, there isn't much in the city that one can claim is the work of the TRS Government. The city's traffic is one of the slowest in the country, the rides on the metro are unaffordable and water availability issues continue. On swacch rankings, the State went from 19th in 2016 to 27th in 2018. The city dwellers are invested significantly in real estate and one expected the real estate market to boom after the formation of the State. With an average growth of around 5% per annum for the last 4 years, this too has been a disappointment
Essentially TRS is in trouble on 4 major fronts
- Agriculture Labour - 22% of the Population
- Unemployed and Under employed youth - 10% of the Population
- Dalits - 15% of the Population
- Add segments of the agriculture and muslim population and that would be another 18% (out of 37% population)
All these groups together add up to about 55% (excluding overlaps). That places a lot of pressure on the TRS to convert the rest 45%. However, the opposition itself is split. With BJP probably controlling about 5-8% of the votes, the opposition also needs to convert from a base of 45%. When it comes to conversion, TRS is better placed primarily because KCR outperforms all other leaders on leadership ratings (This will influence the swing voter). This perhaps will finally matter but until then it is a fight to the finish.