Intent on not ceding even an inch of political space to opposition parties, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is trying to steal a clear march over its rivals — BJP and the Congress — in the municipal elections next month. The high-optics of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s meeting with his AP counterpart YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for resolving the interstate disputes, particularly the utilisation of the Godavari waters, and the foundation stone laying ceremonies for an ultra-modern Secretariat buildings and the Legislative Assembly and Council complex, were also apparently meant to make the TRS look taller and stronger than the opposition parties
If the TRS won the last Assembly elections hands down, it was because of the mojo of KCR despite the fact that there was anti-incumbency wave against many of his MLAs. He had, in fact, renominated several MLAs against whom there was opposition not only in the people but also among the party workers and yet he led the party to a stunning victory.
But the party suffered a dent in the recent Lok Sabha elections which appears to have worked as a wake-up call that one should keep a watch on ever shifting quicksand of politics. It seems to be more sober now. The party appears to have decided not to leave anything to chance regardless of the size and significance of any election that it has to face.
The TRS’ loss in Nizamabad where KCR’s daughter K Kavitha sought re-election to Lok Sabha and the Congress pocketing Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat where A Revanth Reddy settled political scores with the TRS for his defeat in Kodangal in Assembly elections, are rankling the TRS leadership even now.
Chandrasekhar Rao, at the party state executive committee meeting on Thursday, sought to tie up the loose ends in the party organisational set up. He emphasised that the party was quite strong in rural areas and now it is time to make the party sink its roots very deep in urban areas too. He, in fact, entrusted the responsibility of leading the party to victory to his son and party working president KT Rama Rao while kicking off the membership enrolment drive. Former Minister T Harish Rao’s presence at the party executive committee meeting and at the bhoomi pooja at the Secretariat may have, to some extent, neutralised the growing feeling that the Siddipet legislator is getting a gentle brush off in the party and the government.
The BJP, after it won four Lok Sabha seats, is in overdrive now, ravenous and rapacious to seize as
much political space in Telangana as possible and emerge as an alternative to the TRS much to the discomfiture of the chief minister. With the Congress not being in a position to bounce back with no powerful leadership in the State and the party going through a cataclysmic phase with Rahul Gandhi determined to step down as its president, the BJP wants to make the hay while the sun shines and nudge the Congress out. BJP leaders claim that they were certain to come to power in 2023 and that the days of the TRS government are numbered though it might look a little far-fetched. One leader had even said that there were some “disgruntled” leaders in the TRS who could be cajoled into joining the saffron brigade.
Though the Chief Minister dismissed the BJP as a party of no consequence and that its score in the Lok Sabha elections was more a flash in the pan rather than one that has been achieved with an inspiring leadership at the State level, he, however, seems to have imbibed the import of the saffron party’s enthusiasm to change gears quickly. The chief minister is understood to be coming up with a strategy to consolidate the gains after the merger of the 12 Congress MLAs into the TRSLP. He knows he has to act early since there is always the possibility of the BJP from making an attempt to connect with the electorate in their constituencies by projecting the Congress as a party which is over the hill and the TRS as one that encouraged defections.
The one strategy that the chief minister is adopting to deal with the possibility of the BJP trying to occupy the space being vacated by the Congress is by fortifying the TRS Assembly segment-wise as it believes this measure would yield welcome dividends politically rather than having party district units which would have little maneuverability in preparing the cadres for the elections and on top of it, is fraught with the problem of too many leaders working at cross purposes. The party is understood to have come to the conclusion that this arrangement would work as a silver bullet in dealing with organisational issues and help the party continue its onward march.