Hyderabad: By-elections to seven Assembly constituencies -- six in Telangana and one in coastal Andhra -- slated for March 18, are changing the political equations in Andhra Pradesh.
The ruling Congress remains aloof with no friends, while the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has lost one of its allies, the CPM. The other major Left party, CPI, though has decided to move hand-in-hand with the TDP, but ostensibly not at the cost of its relationship with the CPM.
Camaraderie between the BJP and the separatist Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) did not bloom as expected, though both stand on the same platform -- the Telangana statehood demand.
The fledgling YSR Congress party, of course, is in a world of its own, confined to the Andhra region for now.
As the battle lines are drawn for the "crucial" by-polls, the changed political equations may make or mar the prospects of those engaged in the battle.
The BJP holds the key to the fortunes of the TRS in Telangana.
The TRS, which is called the self-styled torch-bearer of the Telangana cause, is desperate to win the five seats it is contesting in the by-elections, but a split in the so-called "sentiment votes" can prove a dampener to its hopes.
The BJP has so far announced that it will be in the fray from Mahbubnagar segment in Telangana besides Kovur in Andhra. But pressure is building within the party to contest other seats as well in Telangana.
"We succeeded in convincing people that only the BJP can create Telangana state and the by-elections could be used to test our (improved) strength. It will be politically prudent for us to jump into the battle field rather than stay away," a senior leader of BJP observed.
The BJP`s new-found enthusiasm is causing jitters in the TRS as the former could eat into the pro-Telangana vote bank and mar the latter’s prospects in many segments.
The Congress and the TDP precisely want this to happen as they would like to see the TRS mauled, if not totally decimated.
In Mahbubnagar in particular, a multi-cornered contest has become inevitable with Congress, TDP, BJP, TRS besides the widow of deceased MLA Rajeswar Reddy staying in fray.
Vijayalakshmi is fighting the by-election, caused by her husband`s death, as an independent and expects to garner sympathy votes.
On their part, both the Congress and the TDP maintain that the by-elections are not being fought on the Telangana issue but the TRS, obviously, differs with them.
A defensive Congress is once again chanting the development mantra, while the TDP is out to expose both the ruling party and the TRS over their deceit on the statehood issue.
On the other side, the YSR Congress has a lot at stake in Kovur as a win will make it a force to reckon with in the state politics. A defeat could well be ominous for the outfit that aims to capture power in the 2014 general elections.