BENGALURU: With the results of the Lok Sabha elections set to be announced in less than three weeks, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, who has been in the forefront of stitching up a non-BJP, non-Congress front, is making all-out efforts to meet leaders of such political parties, especially in the southern states.
He has already met his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan and unsuccessfully attempted to meet Congress alliance partner in Tamil Nadu, DMK’s chief M K Stalin. The most interesting of all his outreach efforts, however, has been in Karnataka to Congress’ coalition partner JDS.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s telephonic conversation with K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday over the issue of releasing water from Almatti dam to the parched districts of Telangana made headlines. However, another hush-hush phone conversation between the two chief ministers on Monday centred around the possible outcome of the May 23 results.But contrary to the belief that Rao is attempting to unite regional party leaders to form a formidable non-Congress and non-BJP combine, sources close to Kumaraswamy suggest that Rao is looking to be an ally of the Congress and has sought JDS’ help to ease the transition.
“Given his strained relations with Congress, Rao is unable to approach the party directly. Moreover, the anti-Congress position he has assumed in Telangana doesn’t allow him to be seen as extending an olive branch to the party. He hopes that the JDS, given its working relation with the Congress in Karnataka, will be able to forge an alliance,” said a source privy to the conversation between the two CMs. Since the JDS is already in a coalition government with Congress, Rao, it is said, understands that attempts to lure the party away from Congress could be futile.
Rao hopes to convince Kumaraswamy to take up his cause with Congress for a quid pro quo. Ensuring the stability of JDS-Congress coalition government with Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister will be his bargaining chip for extending support to the Congress in Lok Sabha, Rao is said to have conveyed. Given the rumblings in the coalition threatening the stability of the coalition government, Kumaraswamy is said to have shown interest in Rao’s proposal.
“Chandrashekar Rao comes with the offer of not just seats won by the TRS in Telangana but also Jagan Mohan Reddy’s seats in Andhra Pradesh. They seem to have arrived at an understanding that they will work together,” said a source.
JDS insiders who are in the know of Rao’s proposal also insist that he would prefer to ally with Congress, which may have lesser number of seats, than tie up with BJP. Having considerable sway over the larger alliance partner even in terms of numbers seems to be the idea.
Congress in Karnataka is least rattled by the talks between Kumaraswamy and Rao. “The BJP, which is sure it won’t have enough numbers post results, is propping up leaders like Rao to create a perception of threat. We have no reason to fret since the JDS, as well as its chief H D Deve Gowda, have categorically stated that they will support Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for Prime Minister,” said Rizwan Arshad, MLC and MP candidate from Bangalore Central for the Congress.