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The News Minute| June 1, 2014| 11.35 pm IST

For his supporters, he is the “Telangana Tiger”, the champion of the Telangana cause and the man who brought their five-decade long struggle for a separate state to its logical conclusion.

Those who follow the politics of Andhra Pradesh would know him as somebody who almost slipped into political oblivion but through his single-point agenda of separatist politics, earned himself the status of first Chief Minister of the Telangana state.

You may choose to disagree with his style of politics, even call him opportunistic. But Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhara Rao, who is popularly known as KCR, has etched his name in history.

  • First with his hunger strike, which resulted in the December 9, 2009 announcement by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram about the formation of Telangana.
  • Second, by vigorously pursuing the Congress with constant pressure in the Parliament to ensure that the party does not do a volte face on its mid-night promise.
  • Third, by steering his party, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, to a stupendous victory in the recent State Assembly elections, thereby going on to the first Chief Minister of the new state.

KCR is renowned for his powerful oration and his ability to switch between fluent Telugu, Urdu, Hindi and English with ease. He is a Master Gambler who played his cards smartly. Sensing a void in Andhra Pradesh immediately after the chopper crash death of Y. S. Rajashekara Reddy in 2009, he upped the ante for a separate state.

Ever since, Hyderabad has seen violent protests, hunger strikes, a complete shutdown of government functioning and countless disruptions of the Parliament, which has finally rewarded KCR with 63 of the 119 seats in the soon-to-be carved out state in 2014. Having won the both the assembly seat as well as Lok Sabha seat in his home-district of Medak, KCR has chosen the latter to become the Chief Minister.

For those wondering who KCR is, here is a brief journey into his past. 60-year-old KCR was better known as ‘Dubai Shekhar’, before he joined politics. He was an immigration consultant. He started his political career as a low-key member of the Congress and later joined the Telugu Desam Party in 1983.

He won the Siddipet assembly seat four times in a row between 1985 and 1999. He went on to become the Deputy Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, a position he resigned in 2001 claiming disillusionment with the TDP for not supporting the people of Telangana.

He formed the TRS, in 2001 and aligned with the Congress’s United Progressive Alliance in 2004, bagging himself a cabinet berth. But in 2006, he split ways for what he called was the UPA’s anti-Telangana sentiment.

In 2007, several senior leaders in his party made headlines for their involvement in a passport scam and human-trafficking. KCR distanced himself from them and expelled them, amidst a flurry of counter accusations that he was deeply entrenched in the scam.

Facing an uncertain future, KCR played the Telangana card once again by getting his partymen to resign all Assembly and Parliamentary seats but this move backfired and they could win back only 7 of the 16 Assembly seats the party gave up, in the bye-elections.

Next came a failed attempt to join hands with the TDP for the State Assembly polls in 2009, which led to a wash out of the TRS.

Eight years after forming the party, the threat of becoming politically irrelevant loomed large before KCR. But YSR’s untimely death in September 2009 and the Congress’s subsequent disarray offered a window of opportunity to the beleaguered TRS, one that KCR has milked to the optimum and has reaped rich dividends.

Rest, as they say, is history.

In 2009, New York Times’ Jim Yardley called him, “A politician who went hungry to redraw India’s map”.

KCR has indeed succeeded in modifying the geographical boundaries of Andhra Pradesh and in the process, has sketched a promising political future for himself.

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