Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has renamed his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) with the avowed objective of dethroning the BJP government at the Centre. But, the mere change of nomenclature does not make it a national party. The BRS will get the tag only when it fulfills the stipulated Election Commission conditions. KCR has a long way to go. The first test for the rebranded TRS is the upcoming by-election for the Munugode Assembly constituency, where it is locked in a triangular fight with the BJP and the Congress. He will then face the Assembly elections next year. They are not going to be a walk in the park.
Anti-incumbency aside, BRS throws up an interesting question. The formation of a separate Telangana is the raison d’être of the TRS, and as such, it has more or less enjoyed a monopoly over the Telangana sentiment. Giving up the prized brand may have repercussions. Any reverses in the Assembly elections might upset KCR’s national ambitions.
Then will come the test of his lifetime—fighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in alliance with other regional parties in 2024. It is unclear if K Chandrashekar Rao is on the same page as other regional leaders, most of whom have no qualms about working with the Congress. History has repeatedly shown that regional parties cannot cobble up a majority on their own to form a government at the Centre. Moreover, a regional party, the TRS, will have a lot of ground to cover to acquire national colours. To start with, Telangana will have to change the way it deals with neighbouring states with whom it has quite a
Even if KCR can overcome these hurdles, there remains the most important question of an agenda. Whichever front comes into existence will have to offer a viable alternative development plan. Coming together only on an anti-BJP slogan will yield the same results as previous experiments on the third front. Finally, KCR’s detractors have not lost time in pointing out that his anti-BJP stance could actually end up helping the BJP. After all, he was friendly with the party for a good part of his tenure and sought to decimate the Congress in the state—in a way paving for the rise of the BJP. KCR’s BRS raises more questions than answers.