KCR may advance Panchayat Raj polls

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KCR-advance-on-panchayat-poHyderabad: The ruling TRS is preparing for panchayat elections early in 2018. Though the term of the panchayats ends in July 2018, TRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is said to be keen on advancing the elections to April or May 2018.

Mr Rao, who is currently planning to empower panchayats with more powers and funds, has been holding meetings with ministers, party MPs and MLAs and taking their feedback on advancing the panchayat elections.

Party leaders support the CM’s plan as this would serve as it could help them in assessing its strength before the 2019 Assembly elections.

Sources said the CM is particularly keen to see the performance of the party in rural Telangana, from where a large chunk of TRS voters come.

As the BJP government at the Centre is keen to hold the General Election in 2018-end, the TRS leadership wants to ensure that the party is geared up to face the challenges.

The TRS won with a simple majority, winning 62 of the 119 seats in the Assembly elections in 2014. It has grown stron-ger since then thanks to defections from the Telugu Desam, Congress, YSR Congress Party, CPI, and BSP, taking its strength in the Assembly to 90 in two years.

Besides, the party has been on a winning streak in all the by-elections and swept GHMC and other municipal corporation elections held between 2014 and 2016.

However, there have been no electi-ons in 2017 to help assess if this popularity still endures.

Though the Chief Minister attempted to force the Nalgonda by-election in 2017 by making Nalgonda Congress MP Gutha Sukender Reddy, who defected to the TRS, resign, he withdrew later after senior party leaders cautioned against going for a by-election in a single Lok Sabha seat because if the TRS loses, it would weaken the party’s prospects in the 2019 elections and give the Congress a morale booster after its string of defeats since 2014.

The CM thus wants to test the waters with the panchayat elections in 2018 and see just how ready it is for the 2019 elections.