Non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front: KCR’s selective parleys raise suspicions

KCR’s selective talks seem to give credibility to speculations that his Federal Front is aimed at disarming the Congress, thus benefitting the BJP.
Non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front: KCR’s selective parleys raise suspicions
Non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front: KCR’s selective parleys raise suspicions
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KCR’s hectic parleys with leaders of regional and smaller parties for building a Federal Front have significant exclusions, raising questions over the claimed equidistance from the Congress and the BJP.

Enthused by his party’s stupendous success in the recently held Assembly elections, the Telangana Chief Minister and TRS supremo is on a hectic mission to sell his idea of a non-Congress, non-BJP federal front to the regional and smaller parties. Amidst criticism that these efforts are aimed at disarming the Congress and thus benefitting the BJP, KCR calls it an exercise for effecting a qualitative change in national agenda and public policy.

However, the response to KCR’s efforts seem to be not so encouraging. Within hours of conferring with KCR, BJD leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik sent an emissary to Amaravati to extend support to N Chandrababu Naidu. Naveen Patnaik’s curious act is baffling as the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana chief ministers are on a completely different trajectory in national politics. While KCR wants to build a non-BJP political front which is equally if not more opposed to the Congress, Chandrababu Naidu is busy rallying others under the Congress umbrella.

Even Mamata Banerjee was lukewarm in her response to KCR’s federal front as she is keen on allying with the Congress to take on the BJP juggernaut in West Bengal. Of course, her Trinamool Congress (TMC) is not ready to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls under the leadership of the Congress, which is the only grace for KCR. But Mamata is certainly not averse to joining the Congress-led UPA-III.

Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are more or less in a similar predicament, evident from the fact that they fought against the Congress in the recent Assembly elections only to join the cabinet led by Rahul Gandhi’s party.

Perhaps the only committed non-Congress, non-BJP politician is Arvind Kejriwal. But meeting the AAP chief minister does not figure in KCR’s itinerary. The fact that Kejriwal is a bitter critic of Narendra Modi fuels all kinds of speculations over KCR keeping a distance from the Delhi chief minister. On the other hand, KCR crosses the Andhra coast to reach out to the regional parties ruling Odisha and West Bengal. But surprisingly he does not include any regional parties from Andhra Pradesh. There is justification in excluding Naidu for two reasons. Naidu is in alliance with the Congress, thus disqualifying membership into the non-Congress, non-BJP political club. Naidu’s TDP fought bitterly against the TRS in the recently held Telangana Assembly elections. But why did KCR exclude YSRCP and Jana Sena, which are officially non-Congress, non-BJP parties, at least for now. The TDP accuses these two parties of having a clandestine deal with the BJP. Though such criticism is essentially politically motivated, the fact is that these two parties are bitterly critical of the Congress, and YSRCP notably supported BJP nominees in the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

Similarly, KCR doesn’t seem enthusiastic in roping in the CPI(M), which adopted a political line to not sail with the Congress despite being committed to overthrowing the Modi regime. A trip to Thiruvananthapuram to meet Pinarayi Vijayan, whose principal opponent in Kerala is the Congress, would have been in right earnest for KCR.

In his earlier innings, KCR had called on DMK leader Stalin and JD(S) leaders Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. In fact, KCR had extended his support to the JD(S) during the Assembly elections in Karnataka, a state that has a significant presence of Telugus. But, ditching KCR, Kumaraswamy joined hands with the Congress. Stalin recently put forth the idea of making Rahul Gandhi prime minister, much to KCR’s embarrassment.

KCR has also not met leaders of parties disgruntled with the BJP, such as the Shiv Sena, PDP and others. He has not reached out to LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan when the latter was showing signs of disgruntlement with the BJP. KCR enjoys good relations with Nitish Kumar of Janata Dal (U). But there has not been even an attempt to reach out to the Bihar chief minister as he is firmly aligned to the BJP-led NDA. Thus, KCR seems to be trying hard to win away the parties that are either with the Congress now or are likely to be with it post 2019. But there is no attempt to attract parties that are either close to the BJP or likely to swing towards the saffron party.

Barring the occasional election eve jibe at the BJP leadership, KCR has been avidly supporting the controversial policies of the Modi dispensation, such as demonetisation, GST, etc. and has refrained from criticising the saffron party even when regional and smaller parties were up in arms on the politics of intolerance allegedly pursued by the Sangh Parivar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the floor of the Parliament described KCR as a leader with maturity, indicating the bonhomie between the two leaders. The Congress remains the principal rival for KCR, while the BJP got further decimated in the recent Assembly elections in Telangana. Thus, KCR’s selective parleys so far for the Federal Front raises suspicion over the actual intentions behind the exercise.

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