The King’s Gambit: TRS, BRS & KCR’s ‘AAP'arent dreams

I cannot help but speculate that the other party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which morphed into the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) the other day, is seeking to emulate AAP.

Published: 11th December 2022 08:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th December 2022 09:57 AM   |  A+A-

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

Express News Service

This past week, two parties claimed national status. One of them, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), achieved the distinction after a decade – first, emerging as a crusader against corruption in Delhi, where it is firmly entrenched, and gradually spreading its tentacles to Punjab, and Gujarat. If we leave aside Delhi, AAP’s victory in Punjab and modest gains in Gujarat came at the expense of the Congress. And, what did it offer to voters? AAP appears no longer bothered with corruption, mired as it is, in one scandal after another.

If its main plank is governance, it has no problem in adapting itself to the circumstances specific to the states where it is in the fight. I cannot help but speculate that the other party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which morphed into the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) the other day, is seeking to emulate AAP. When TRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao first announced his intention to rename the party, he left everyone wondering what he was up to. As of now too, ask any TRS leader. He or she would be hard-pressed to find a convincing reply. Others find it laughable. KCR himself is conscious of this, which is perhaps why he recalled that people had mocked at him when he fought for a separate state of Telangana.

He has good reason to believe he has more to offer than AAP. After all, he heads a prosperous State with the crest jewel Hyderabad shining brightly in his crown. He could showcase his Telangana model – to give credit where it is due, he has called the bluff of Andhra leaders who had predicted gloom and doom for Telangana when it was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Substituting Bharat for Telangana is just his first step, evidently to rid himself of the tag of a regional leader. Unlike other south leaders, he is not only fluent but also eloquent in Hindi. So, what is wrong in being ambitious? Gaining the national tag though requires consistent hard work. And, like AAP, he would surely be “fighting the BJP but targeting the Congress” as the latter is the weakling. But first, he has to contend with an aggressive BJP at home. The saffron party’s playbook is easy to decipher.

Whether it is in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru or Hyderabad, it paints whoever is in power as corrupt, contrasting it with the clean image of Prime Minister Modi. Once the central agencies do their job, it builds on, by voicing public discontent with a liberal dose of Hindutva. This is what is unfolding in Telangana where it smells blood. KCR, unlike say the Congress or Mamata, appears to think that offense is the best form of defense. Turning the tables, he has sought to “expose” the BJP’s political machinations through the alleged MLAs’ poachgate. How will this pan out is hard to tell. If the agencies act against KCR’s daughter Kavitha in the alleged liquor scam, he is capable of turning it to his advantage. After all, he came to power in the first place by epitomizing the pervasive feeling of victimhood and retained it by evoking the same emotion with his silver tongue. He is already carpet-bombing the BJP with allegations of discriminating against Telangana.

The BJP, for all its noise, is still behind both BRS and the Congress in the State. Its strategy document titled ‘Kamal Vikas’ shows it has “very few winning MLA candidates” and its base vote share is “5-8% in rural areas and 10-15% in urban areas.” And, it has no State leader who can match KCR to tap into public emotions. A big part of its plan is to “fight TRS, target Congress” – therein lies the real story. KCR too is aware it is the Congress that is the real threat in the State. The Big Fight between KCR and BJP is effectively edging the Congress out of the political discourse and landscape – which is helpful to both. They do not look like to be in cohorts but this is the inevitable fallout of the ongoing battle and the disarray in Congress. Coming back to BRS, it also shows KCR is confident of retaining the State and believes, this is the time to go national – to gain leverage, either for war or peace.

Kalyan Tholeti
Resident Editor, Telangana/Andhra Pradesh

India Matters


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