Will KCR succeed in forging a non-Congress federal front or go the Mamata way?
New Delhi, February 28, 2022
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, has revived his national ambitions and with it renewed his bid to forge a federal front against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Soon after retaining power in Telangana in the 2018 assembly elections, KCR initiated a move to cobble up a grouping of non-BJP and non-Congress parties.
However, the move was a non-starter as there were not many takers for his idea.
He shelved the move when Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power in 2019.
His party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), sided with the government in Parliament and ensured a smooth passage of many key bills in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
However, the relationship turned bitter with the BJP trying to make inroads in the state. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 4 of the 17 seats in Telangana and its vote share increased from 7% to 20% within two years.
Then came its performance in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Council (GHMC) elections and the subsequent Dubbak and Huzurabad bye-elections.
This had visibly rattled KCR as he began to feel threatened with the slow and steady rise of the BJP. He was convinced that it would be easy to tackle the Congress than the mighty BJP.
Known as a shrewd and an astute politician, KCR devised a strategy to take on the BJP not only in his state but across the country. At the same time, he argued that it is high time to come up with a credible and a viable alternative to Prime Minister Modi since the Congress has failed to do so in the past nearly eight years.
His first stopover was in Chennai where he met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M K Stalin.
He then went to Mumbai where he met Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar.
The three -- Pawar, Thackeray and Stalin -- endorsed his proposal to forge a united front against the BJP but insisted that any such formation without the Congress would be a futile exercise. They told him that apart from the BJP the only political party that has a pan-India presence is the Congress.
The same argument was given to West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee when she met the leaders of the opposition parties some months ago. Banerjee, too, wanted a non-Congress grouping but her efforts haven't yielded the desired results yet.
For his part, KCR is against doing any business with the Congress but now seems to have softened his stance as evident from his all-out attack on the BJP for Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's derogatory remarks against Rahul Gandhi.
He is likely to call a meeting of the opposition leaders in Delhi soon after the declaration of election results in Delhi on March 10.
KCR has roped in political analyst Prashant Kishor's I-PAC for enhancing his image nationally and getting ground reports and surveys done.
There is also a strong buzz that KCR might dissolve the state assembly a few months before the elections are due in Telangana to enable him to get enough time to prepare for the grand finale in 2024.
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