KCR Desperate To Impress Modi
Hyderabad: Telangana State Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) utilised the opportunity provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his decision of demonetisation to impress him. Though he called it an irresponsible decision at the beginning, he went to Delhi to have PM’s darshan and ears. On returning from Delhi, KCR became an altogether different politician.
TS government had announced that Siddipet constituency would be made a cashless hub where all the transactions take place digitally. KCR’s nephew and Minister for Major Irrigation T Harish Rao had built a campaign to educate all sections of people in cashless transactions. He addressed a series of meetings attended by Beedi workers, retired employees, farmers, thrift groups etc. Swiping machines were arranged for retail shop owners. The Mandi (vegetable market) was provided with a special facility that gives tokens of five rupees and ten rupees to the consumers who can buy vegetables with them. At the end of the day the farmers can encash the tokens they gathered on selling the vegetables.
Ibrahimpatnam, a village in Siddipet constituency was declared cashless. It was called the second cashless village in the country after one in Gujarat. But when some journalists went for a reality-check, they found the old and the illiterate struggling with the Rupe cards they were given not knowing what to do with them.
Digital transaction is a desirable goal. But in a country where only two per cent of transactions take place digitally and where more than 30 per cent are illiterate and below poverty line, this measure has to be implemented in an organised manner.
But the TS chief minister is in a hurry to curry favour with the prime minister. He is intelligent enough to understand that the PM would be grateful towards who ever extends support to him in his difficult times on account of demonetisation. He declared in the TS assembly on the first day of its winter session on Friday that the demonetisation decision is not in the purview of the assembly and it cannot be criticised. He repeatedly reminded the members that the PM had taken the decision for the good of the country. Even a BJP chief minister could not have protected the PM the way KCR did. He did not allow any debate on the merits of the decision. He declared that the Siddipet constituency would be cashless with in two weeks. It is an audacious statement coming from the chief minister knowing that it is well nigh impossible to achieve the target in two weeks. It is intended to grab headlines.
Why is KCR so desperate to be seen as a close ally of Modi and the BJP? One can think of three factors which are interlinked. First, KCR is keen on overtaking his neighbour Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, in gaining proximity to PM. Naidu’s TDP is already a BJP ally in the NDA government with two ministers- Ashok Ganapatiraju and Sujana Chowdary. The BJP is a partner in Naidu’s government in AP. KCR wants to go closer to Modi so that he can have the same leverage as Naidu at the centre. Two, KCR is bent upon joining the NDA government so that his daughter Kavita could become a central minister. Three, both KCR and Naidu have urged the NDA government to reorganise the assembly constituencies and increase the number of seats as promised in the AP Bifurcation Act2014. Hoping that the promise would be implemented, both the CMs encouraged defections from rival parties. More than twenty MLAs had defected to TRS from the Congress, the TDP and the YSRCP. Similarly more than twenty MLAs from YSRCP were lured by Naidu into the TDP in AP. If the defectors have to be accommodated without antagonising the old loyalists of the party in the 2019 elections, the number of constituencies have to go up. The concerned NDA ministers told Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that reorganisation of constituencies is not possible before 2024. The CMs have been hoping against hope and trying to persuade the PM by whole heartedly supporting him at a time he needed it most.
KCR went out of the way to castigate the Congress party calling it corrupt and obstructionist. He used almost the same language and idiom that Modi did in deriding the UPA government prompting Akbaruddin Owaisi to remark that while his party, MIM, was supporting the TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti), the TRS is courting. Congress MLA Jeevan Reddy called KCR a BJP agent.