Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's recent statement at a poll campaign in the state has triggered a debate, after he said that his party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), would support neighbouring Andhra Pradesh in its fight for Special Category Status (SCS) after the elections.
KCR, who was taking shots at Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, said, "We will fight for our interests and also fight for the interests of others. I am telling Naidu publicly that our stand is the same."
"Our MPs will definitely support special status for Andhra. We have the interests of others in our heart. People of Andhra are good but some political leaders like Chandrababu Naidu are creating a problem," he added.
The Telangana CM predicted that the TRS would win 16 Lok Sabha seats, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) would secure one seat and with the YSRCP, and they together would have 35 to 36 MPs.
The public statement by KCR comes just days ahead of the polls scheduled in both states on April 11, after the TRS chief has exercised restraint in publicly supporting Jagan, for months.
Analysts say that while KCR's statement may not make a big difference to Jagan's chances in Andhra Pradesh, especially since it’s coming so close to the polling date, it will definitely help abate any anti-TRS sentiments that voters in the neighbouring state hold.
"The statement will not hurt Jagan. Instead, it may help neutralising any anti-KCR sentiment in Andhra Pradesh. At the same time, people may be wary, because while the Chief Minister has supported special status, his party leaders have made conflicting statements on the issue," says Telakapalli Ravi, a senior journalist and political analyst.
"It was in the TRS's interests to maintain ambiguity earlier, but now their stand is clear," he adds.
The statement by KCR comes close on the heels of a statement by Jagan last week, when he said at a public meeting, "What is wrong in taking the support of TRS to fight for special status for Andhra Pradesh? We have 25 MPs and Telangana has 17. If the TRS strengthens our hands, we can fight the Centre effectively for our rights."
In January this year, Jagan had met with TRS Working President KT Rama Rao and discussed KCR’s proposal of a Federal Front – a consortium of regional parties. However, since then, both the TRS and the YSRCP have kept discussion on the meeting to a minimum. Observers said that this was a calculated move, as, if KCR took even one step further, he could have damaged Jagan's prospects in Andhra.
During the Assembly elections in Telangana, when Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu campaigned in the state, KCR used it to his advantage to rile up the Telangana sentiment and crush the TDP-Congress combine, winning 88 out of the 119 seats in the state.
While Naidu has been making a similar attempt to bank on the Andhra sentiment. In the last week, both Naidu and Pawan Kalyan have trained their guns on KCR during their campaign speeches but it has not been as effective as the TDP chief was physically present in Telangana while KCR is not.
Elections to the 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state are scheduled for April 11.