Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) boss K Chandrasekhar Rao is known for his political astuteness. But he is also an unpredictable strategist. He proved this once again by participating in the discussion on the no-trust motion moved by the TDP in the Lok Sabha against the Narendra Modi government but distancing his party from voting on the motion.
TRS’ decision to abstain from the voting surprised many because it was widely expected TRS would support the motion which was aimed at exposing the Centre’s indecisiveness in resolving issues related to the AP Reorganisation Act. Besides, Rao’s statements about forming a Federal Front at the national level and his vociferous belligerence shown towards the NDA had created the impression TRS would take on the Modi government.
The people of Telangana, like their AP counterparts, are unhappy over the Centre’s half-hearted attitude towards implementing bifurcation promises such as division of Hyderabad High Court and establishing a steel factory in Telangana. Rao’s recent statement that AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was his long-time friend and they were maintaining good relations with each other to resolve disputes between the two states also provided ground for this argument. As the TRS had earlier openly supported TDP MPs’ vociferous demand that AP should be granted the special category status, many of the politicos in AP, too, were of the view that the pink party would back the no-trust move.
Surprisingly, instead of backing AP’s demand for a special status during the debate on no-trust motion, TRS MPs demanded that the very term be defined again. Further, during the voting on no-trust motion, the pink party members abstained. This led to the allegation that KCR has some understanding with the BJP.
It is a known fact that Rao does not want any direct confrontation with Prime Minister Modi. At the same time, he wants to establish his secularism credentials in the run-up to the ensuing Assembly/Lok Sabha polls to keep the minority sections of voters in the State in a good humour.
Had the TRS voted in favour of the motion, it would have been branded as an ally of the Congress and the TDP, whom the pink party has been blaming for the misery of Telangana people in the past 60 years. Facing this difficult situation, Rao might have decided to abstain from voting. Hence, he might have opted for staying neutral during the crucial vote, while thanking the Centre for granting various clearances for the gigantic Kaleshwaram Irrigation Project, being constructed in Telangana.
During the debate, TRS also targeted the then Congress-led UPA government for not according national project status for Kaleshwaram. TRS MPs used the debate as a platform to attack the AP government for causing several obstructions to the Kaleshwaram project, which is considered the lifeline of North Telangana.
The earlier game plan of TRS boss Rao to form a Federal Front against the BJP and the Congress at the national level too took a beating with the recent joining of hands by JD(S) and the Congress in Karnataka. Similarly, the leaders whom Rao had earlier met to seek support for his proposed Front, are now seen in the company of the Congress rather than remaining neutral.
In the past few months, Rao has been favouring advancing the Assembly polls in the State, instead of clubbing them with Lok Sabha polls. The TRS boss does not want the atmosphere engulfing the simultaneous polls to be dominated by a key campaign between his arch-rivals — BJP and Congress. He also does not want domination of national issues during TS Assembly polls. He is very much interested to go for assembly polls separately only with a view that state-centric issues alone have to decide the poll outcome.
Whatever be the reason, if Assembly elections are to be advanced, it requires the Governor’s nod, which means it is going to be decided by the Centre. The BJP, which cannot defeat the Congress in Telangana on its own to implement its Congress-mukt Bharat strategy, should choose a regional party like the TRS to accomplish its task. The recent meetings of the Telangana CM and his son K T Rama Rao, who is the IT minister, with Modi should be understood on these lines.
Ch V M Krishna Rao
Resident Editor, Hyderabad