My Times Today.The “Telangana thalli”— or the “mother of Telangana”, as Congress leaders described Sonia Gandhi — claimed her child at an election rally near Hyderabad on Friday night. But the audience didn’t faint with joy. They might even start asking questions. The most important question is: Why didn’t Sonia come to see the “child” even once during the four-and-a-half years after Telangana was born?
For her part, Sonia spoke of Telangana being a new baby that has been neglected. The UPA chairperson said: “All mothers know what it’s like denying nutrition and good upbringing to children. Every mother wishes her children to grow up well. I feel sadness when I see Telangana.”
Watched by the leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samithi and CPI, which are part of the Mahakutami alliance along with Congress, party chief Rahul Gandhi continued the theme, saying: “Sonia stood by your side when you fought for Telangana.
If the ‘mother’ hadn’t come calling to Telangana for close to five years, it was, in fact, because Congress had abandoned the ‘child’. It was a case of goofing up in haste and repenting in leisure. In an unseemly hurry, Congress divided Andhra Pradesh in 2014, carving Telangana out of it. With the juggernaut of Narendra Modi marching through India and sensing a rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the party broke the state with the hope of winning both parts of it.
Congress dreamed that the people of Telangana, once they got a separate state, would be grateful enough to stand by the party. They didn’t. It hoped that the promise of special status would prompt what remained of Andhra Pradesh to toe its line. It didn’t. With TDP and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) winning Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively in 2014 and seemingly ensconced in the two states, Congress lost hope of getting them back anytime soon.
One was that DK Shivakumar, Karnataka’s ace trouble-shooter, was prominent on the dais. Just in case you are wondering what the Congress leader from a neighbouring state was doing there, you must remember that Shivakumar is Karnataka’s richest politician. Officially, we were informed that Shivakumar’s services had been commissioned to “talk to” rebel Congress candidates in Telangana. The number of rebels Congress has in the field is always in direction proportion to the chances of the party’s victory. Congress had as many as 20 rebels in Telangana in this election.
There were other senior leaders as well to persuade rebels to withdraw from contest, but Shivakumar’s presence was most overpowering. Possession of wealth and skills of persuasion go famously hand in hand. With a victory in Telangana a distinct possibility — as Congress sees it — the party didn’t take a chance and did everything it could to ensure that the rebels didn’t make this election a slip between the cup and the lip.
The second thing that confirmed how seriously Congress is viewing the Telangana Assembly election is the fact that Sonia chose to campaign there despite poor health. She hasn’t addressed a single rally, so far, in any of the other four states going to polls: Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram. The party apparently thought her presence was essential for playing the Telangana-thalli card, which, in turn, was key to winning the state.