By keeping himself away from the no confidence motion, it seems as though KCR aimed to kill three birds in one shot.

By not voting in no-trust motion against NDA KCR shows what a strategist he is
news Politics Monday, July 23, 2018 - 13:01

A friend in need is a friend indeed. It’s a different matter whether the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao is a friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or not. But he has backed the Narendra Modi-led NDA government more than any of the friends in his camp in the last four years.

Be it the note ban, GST or the President and Vice-President elections, and even the 15th Finance Commission recommendations, KCR supported the NDA more than its alliance partners. During the latest no confidence motion piloted by the Opposition too, the TRS, by abstaining from voting, did its part to save the government from embarrassment, without worrying about criticism that it is a proxy of the NDA government.

Three birds in one shot

KCR’s dream of floating a non-Congress and non-BJP federal front does not stop him from taking this blame. Will the invincible leader who rose like a colossus out of the separate Telangana movement to become a demigod in his home state do all this without any forethought?

By keeping himself away from the no confidence motion, it seems as though KCR aimed to kill three birds in one shot – keeping alive the Telangana sentiment, checking the resurgent Congress in his state and helping Telangana receive its due from the Centre by using his good offices with the powers-that-be.

After all, KCR has shown political brinkmanship right from the days of the Telangana movement. His moves in pursuit of his single point agenda – achieving separate statehood for Telangana – might have seemed wily and opportunistic to his critics, but KCR didn’t pay any heed to what they said. In the process, his oft-repeated – I won’t mind even kissing a hairy caterpillar if it gives us a separate state – went viral in Telangana at the peak of the statehood movement. By saying this, he signalled the merger of his TRS with the Congress in return for the statehood given by the latter.

After the statehood was granted and the UPA was replaced by the NDA at the Centre, KCR dumped the Congress to script a history of his own as a champion of Telangana state and began to be seen as an invisible friend of PM Modi.

KCR has continued to pursue the political game even after coming to power on the crest of the Telangana sentiment. He has sought to keep in good humour Muslim minorities, who constitute 12% of the state’s electorate in 10-15 Assembly segments, with the incentive of 12% quota in jobs and education. At the same, he has allowed himself to side with the diametrically opposite BJP that pursues a Hindutva agenda.

Federal front

From the time the TRS chief dropped the bombshell of a ‘federal front’, his move earned him the suspicion that it was all orchestrated to split the anti-Congress vote at the behest of PM Modi.

Lending credence to such suspicions, KCR avoided the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, which was attended by the who’s who of the NDA’s opposition camp. Earlier, in the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly elections, he met JD(S) leader and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and sought his support for the so-called Federal Front.

In a similar move, KCR also met the DMK’s ailing leader, Karunanidhi, in Chennai; West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee; SP’s Akhilesh Yadav; BSP’s Mayawati and JMM’s Hemant Soren. They all happen to be prospective partners of the Congress-led UPA and thus, his meeting with them gives some weight to the speculation that KCR has allowed himself to carry out Narendra Modi’s agenda to split the opposition camp.

Telangana sentiment

It’s imperative for the TRS to keep alive the Telangana sentiment if it wants to stage a comeback in the upcoming election, so KCR and his brigade misses no chance to keep the embers alive. The TRS has built the narrative of Telangana sentiment in a manner that it’s closely intertwined with the TDP. The TDP was projected as a party of wealthy and ‘exploitative’ Andhra people and also accused of having failed to accommodate the sub-regional aspirations of Telangana. Any attempt to favour the neighbouring state now obviously runs counter to the Telangana sentiment. Therefore, the TRS with 11 MPs acted accordingly in the Parliament, it is understood.

At times, the party also tries to placate the Andhra settler population, a force to reckon with in 25-30 Assembly segments, by letting its firebrand MP and KCR’s daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha join the chorus with the TDP in Parliament over central assistance for the sibling state now and then. KCR’s recent visit to the Kanaka Durga temple in the AP capital with the gift of a nose stud can also be seen as a part of this game plan.

In need of Centre’s assistance

The TRS’ pro-NDA gesture in Parliament began yielding results in a quid pro quo manner. According to reports, the PM has accepted KCR’s invitation to commission the Kaleshwaram irrigation project, his dream coming true in record time with the NDA’s largesse. The Rs 80,000 cr project, which aims to irrigate 7.24 lakh hectares in water-starved Telangana by harnessing Godavari waters, would have met the same fate as the Polavaram project in Andhra but for KCR’s art of lobbying. The TRS government is also obligated to get the Centre to realise its bifurcation eve promises like the steel plant at Bayyaram – and KCR believes it’s all possible only by influencing the Centre.

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