HYDERABAD: A four-hour long meeting between Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and media baron here in January second week was the key to KCR’s reconciliation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an alliance between their two parties.
If Mr. Modi agrees to take Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MPs into the NDA fold as is being speculated for the past few days, Ms. K. Kavitha and Mr. A. P. Jitender Reddy are the two most likely candidates. Veteran TRS leader and Rajya Sabha member K. Keshav Rao may not get a chance and would be accommodated as a Governor after a few years.
If the alliance is forged, BJP leaders will be taken into KCR’s Cabinet. Telangana BJP president G. Kishen Reddy and its floor leader in the Assembly Kova Laxman are prime contenders for ministerial berths. This means that KCR will have to drop two TRS Ministers. As of now, Jogu Ramanna may be asked to make the sacrifice while the process is on to identify the other Minister.
KCR’s journey from dubbing Prime Minister Modi as `a fascist’ six months ago to making every effort now to befriend him is fascinating. Riding high on his multiple achievements of getting a separate Telangana State, leading the TRS to power almost single-handedly and becoming the first-ever Chief Minister of the fledgling State, KCR was reluctant to have any truck with the saffron party because of its pre-election alliance with his bête noir Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
KCR changes tack after Naidu’s initiatives on Swachh Bharat
Chandrasekhar Rao’s antipathy towards the NDA was such that his was the only Government that did not respond to the Prime Minister’s call of implementing Swachh Bharat, a non-partisan programme. Ever quick on the uptake, Naidu hailed the programme immediately while KCR did not utter a word till he decided to court the BJP strongman.
It all began when Mr. Modi suggested to KCR sometime ago to call on media baron Ch. Ramoji Rao, considered Mr. Naidu’s mentor, and sort out issues relating to regularization of some 1600 acres of land at Ramoji Film City. His advice came after the media baron met him along with family members, including his grandson, where he showed Mr. Modi an album containing illustrations of a plan to build ‘Om City’ near the Film City in Hyderabad. The Prime Minister was quite impressed with the idea and expressed his support.
Both had already enjoyed a good equation as evident from the Eenadu owner being seated in the front row at Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapathi Bhavan whereas Mr. Naidu was seen sitting in the third row. Mr. Ramoji Rao had a good rapport with Atal Behari Vapayee too during the NDA regime.
Mr. Modi asked KCR, ostensibly at the media baron’s request, if he would cooperate in making the ‘Om City’ project a success. This was a tricky situation for KCR as he was a known Ramoji Rao baiter and had targeted him during the peak of the Telangana agitation. He had threatened to use thousands of ploughs to dig up the vast extent of land allegedly grabbed by the media baron who hails from Andhra. However, Mr. Modi nudged him again at the recent meeting of Chief Ministers held in connection with the inauguration of Niti Aayog by telling KCR that it would be good if he built bridges with Mr. Ramoji Rao.
Visit to Ramoji Film City was the turning point
After Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu pursued the idea, KCR visited Ramoji Film City where he had lunch with a person whom he appeared to dislike till recently. Against the scheduled one hour, they sat chatting for four hours after which KCR praised the media baron at a public meeting. Being enterprising youngsters, KCR’s children K. Taraka Rama Rao and Kavitha had no qualms in doing business with any party.
Ms. Kavitha, having made her mark in Parliament, was keen on becoming a Minister. The groundwork for KCR’s political tete-a-tete with Mr. Modi and with BJP president Amit Shah was done by Mr. Jitender Reddy, TRS MP from Mahaboobnagar, who was with the BJP earlier.
This ensured that KCR would get to discuss politics with Mr. Modi on Monday after attending the wedding reception of Mr. Amit Shah’s son the previous evening. Mr. Rao left Kavitha and other MPs at Ashoka Hotel and left alone for the Prime Minister’s residence at 7 Race Course Road. PMO staff were not allowed to be present at their 40-minute long meeting where the possibility of an alliance was reportedly discussed.
If these reports turn out to be true, Mr. Ramoji Rao will have obliging Chief Ministers in both the Telugu speaking States and KCR will be partnering with the BJP, reducing TDP to just a footnote in Telangana politics.