With one more political party, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) led by Prof Kodandaram, the ideologue who played a key role in the Telangana movement, entering the arena, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao could well be the happiest politician in the State as of now. Reason being, the pronouncements of the professor and other Opposition leaders.
The TJS has declared its intention to contest all the 119 Assembly seats on its own, as has the Congress. The BJP and CPM-led Bahujan Left Front have also announced that they would contest separately. Do they all want to help KCR by dividing the anti-establishment vote among themselves in 2019?
Despite their avowed desire to defeat him, they are moving in a direction he wants them to — raising doubts over their sincerity.
KCR wants more and more parties to contest against him to split the Opposition vote so that he would be able to sail through the next elections successfully.
Sixty-three-year-old Kodandaram is known for his activism in the civil liberties’ movement in the late ’80s and is a well-known face in Telangana polity. He was formerly a Professor in the Osmania University, a major hub of political activities during the Telangana Statehood struggle. He enjoys credibility among the elite sections as a man of integrity than a politician. He also has extensive contacts with several NGOs, leftists, thinkers and socially and politically active lot across the country.
However, Kodandaram is not as articulate as KCR who mesmerizes the masses with his speeches.
In fact, it was KCR who picked him for the post of Chairman for the Political Joint Action Committee of all parties in 2009. Both had a good rapport for a few years before parting ways due to the growing suspicion that the good professor was acting independently.
This has continued till the formation of the Telangana State and beyond. KCR, known to be a person of strong likes and dislikes, has repeatedly shown his displeasure by denying Kodandaram an audience despite several attempts made by the latter to get his appointment.
Not just that. KCR, who once warned political critics of dire consequences if they talked ill of Kodandaram during the struggle for a separate state, insulted him in public when he started taking up agitations against the TRS chief’s pet programmes. KCR went to the extent of calling the professor “a small fellow, cannot win even as a sarpanch in a village and is an agent of the Congress party”.
So, though State Congress chief Capt Uttam Kumar Reddy made serious attempts to persuade the professor not to float a party and even offered the erstwhile TJAC a few seats, he refused to budge. An alliance between them, if any, may happen for the general elections but definitely not in the immediate future.
It is an open secret that the CPI is likely to have electoral adjustments with the Congress as part of its national policy against the BJP. With general elections slated next year, it is now evident that unless the Opposition parties show some sense and sensibility, there are going to be multi-cornered contests all over Telangana.
The TRS would go alone with an understanding with the Majlis party which is confined to Hyderabad City. In the rest of all the segments, Congress, BJP, TDP, and CPM-led Bahujan Left Front may all fight separately against KCR.
However, going by past experiences, when there was a Maha Kutami (Grand Allaince) led by the Congress, with TRS, CPI and CPM as partners in 2004, it was able to defeat the then TDP Government, but when Chandrababu Naidu tried to repeat the same experiment by forging an alliance with TRS, CPI and CPM against the Congress government led by late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in 2009, it did not click.
Like the power of water, if voters decide to ventilate their anger, resentment against the ruling establishment automatically channelizes and translates into support for an Opposition party which they will be able to decide at an appropriate time. If they are satisfied with the performance of the ruling party, nothing comes in their way in ensuring victory again, never mind alliances among Opposition parties.
But one thing is sure. TRS is not like what it was in 2014, both electorally and politically. Akin to the lean personality of KCR, even TRS party as a whole was not that much wealthier in the true sense in 2014.
TRS candidates won not merely by finances. They were all involved in the movement for separate Statehood for Telangana and in the run-up to the elections, they were identified as Telangana Sainiks.
However, things have undergone a massive change during these four years and the same sainiks are now Senadhipathis in their respective constituencies equipped with all the capabilities to take on electoral challenges.
Ch V M Krishna Rao
Resident Editor, Telangana