Foes TRS and Congress take part in Opposition meet, raise eyebrows

TRS was among other parties that attended the recent meeting, convened by Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, to discuss the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs for the entire Winter Session.
Foes TRS and Congress take part in Opposition meet, raise eyebrows
Foes TRS and Congress take part in Opposition meet, raise eyebrows
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In politics, each event carries a certain weight, which could probably pave the way for new political equations. One such event was the meeting of Opposition parties in the country, which was convened by Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on the Parliament premises in New Delhi, on November 30. This national-level meeting assumes significance in the state of Telangana, for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the ruling party in the state, was among the 16 that attended the meeting to discuss the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha members for the entire Winter Session. TRS party’s presence in the Opposition meeting called by the national Congress party has raised several eyebrows among political observers and parties in Telangana.

Both Congress and TRS have been in a ‘friend and foe’ relationship in the state until the latter came to power in 2014. Since then, both parties have become arch-rivals in Telangana. While TRS has been able to emerge victorious across elections, the Congress has been trying to gain a steady foothold in the state, what with the BJP, too, featuring as a strong contender in the triangular war. With the recent appointment of Revanth Reddy as the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president, the rivalry has turned even bitter (examples here, here and here). The recent meeting is perhaps the first since 2014, where both parties came together. 

TRS Secretary-General and Rajya Sabha member Keshava Rao attended the meeting, where the party also signed a joint statement, condemning the suspension of the MPs. However, the TRS party’s presence in the Opposition meeting should also be viewed in the context of recent developments where Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has seemingly been positioning himself against BJP for the past month. KCR has been going all out against the Union government over paddy procurement, farmers' protests, and other issues.

Soon after the meeting in Delhi, BJP termed the TRS as the “B team” of Congress. TRS, on the other hand, said that it was a meeting of the Opposition in India, and not a Congress-led meeting. TRS also said that BJP is frustrated with the Opposition over the farm bills.

Telangana’s BJP spokesperson NV Subhash told TNM that the TRS party’s attendance at the meeting, where Congress was also present, is a trailer of the political future. “The Congress party is ready to take the support of the TRS as they need strength to form a coalition government in the 2023 state election, at any cost,” he said. “Besides, TRS and Congress are not different; both are family-run parties. KCR is playing tactics to project himself as the national leader."

Speaking to TNM on the condition of anonymity, a senior Congress leader said, “It is too early to draw any conclusions about forming a coalition with TRS. However, TRS is getting political mileage out of these issues (paddy procurement and farm bills) by appearing at the national forefront.” 

Meanwhile, TRS official spokesperson Krishank Manne said, "Both Congress and BJP follow the same blame game.” He said that TRS attended the Opposition meeting over concerns about the farmers’ plight in the country. “Either they (BJP) dub the farmers as anti-nationals or label parties. If the Telangana BJP MPs are really concerned about farmers in the country, as they claim, they should have attended the meeting."

However, political observers said that the possibility of any sort of alliance between TRS and Congress is low, given that the political dynamics in the state have changed and that Congress in Telangana is now headed by Revanth Reddy, who is KCR’s bête noire.

Umashesha Rao, a senior political commentator and writer, said, "Be it the Congress or TRS, they act according to the circumstances that prevail at the time of elections. If the situation compels, we might see Congress approaching TRS for the 2023 elections. But at the same time, there is a possibility for the emergence of a new alternative in the leadership, other than the Congress, against BJP."

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