Hyderabad, April 12 (IANS) With only four days to go for the first phase of elections in Andhra Pradesh, separate statehood to Telangana seems no longer a key poll issue in most parts of the backward region and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which is spearheading the movement, is on a sticky wicket.
Despite the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) backing the separate state demand, the low credibility of TRS leaders among people and various other factors have pushed the issue to the backburner.
The failure of TRS to deliver the statehood, its sharing of power with the Congress after 2004 elections, rumblings within the party and the by-elections it imposed last year have not gone down well with the people.
TRS is also not likely to benefit from its alliance with TDP and the two Communist parties because of the weak candidates the party has fielded in some constituencies and the 'friendly fight' among alliance partners in several segments.
With the Congress focussing mainly on the development plank, TDP promising free colour television and cash doles to poor and the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist targeting the ruling party for corruption, Telangana is definitely not the main issue in the campaigning.
Analysts say TRS may not be able to repeat its performance of 2004 elections, which it fought in alliance with the Congress.
TRS had bagged 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats. Nearly half of the state legislators and one MP later staged revolt against the party leadership.
This time the tally of the sub-regional party may come down, going by the mood of the people and results of last year's by-elections when it could retain only seven assembly and two Lok Sabha seats.
This time it is contesting nine Lok Sabha and 45 assembly constituencies out of 17 Lok Sabha and 119 assembly seats in the region.
The party has lost the sheen and appeal since the last elections and has weakened even in its strongholds. K. Chandrashekhar Rao or KCR, as the TRS chief is known among his followers, was forced to shift out of Karimnagar Lok Sabha due to the anger among voters for imposing two by-polls since winning the seat in 2004. In the last year's by-elections, he scraped through with a thin margin.
KCR has now moved to Mahabubnagar, which is not considered a safe seat and he is fighting with his back to the wall.
TRS seems to have lost ground even in KCR's home district Medak.
'There is no Telangana sentiment here,' said A. Anjanna, a farmer in Zaheerabad assembly segment, a part of Zaheerabad Lok Sabha seat, where TRS candidate Yousuf Ali is fighting a losing battle against Suresh Shetkar of the ruling Congress.
In Medak Lok Sabha constituency, Telangana is no issue though actress Vijayshanti is likely to win because of the glamour quotient and thanks to Congress fielding Narendernath, a political novice.
In Warangal district, another stronghold of TRS, the party faces a tough task due to TDP fielding candidates from several assembly constituencies allotted to TRS under the seat sharing agreement. The party is also not looking in the pink of health in Nizamabad district.
The party has limited presence in Adilabad district. In the rest of Telangana including Hyderabad, TRS does not have much of presence. In Secunderabad Lok Sabha, it is also facing contest from TDP.
Perhaps sensing the public mood, KCR during his election speeches is not making tall promises on Telangana and is instead highlighting TDP's promises of free TV and cash doles.
Read More: Adilabad