- Would he float a political party?
Hyderabad: What is Prof Kodandaram upto? The professor who commands highest respect after Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) across Telangana was largely responsible for the formation of the new State. But he fell out with KCR during the course of the elections in 2014 and chose to continue his association with Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), a pressure group. KCR has given positions of power for many leaders who struggled with him in the movement for separate statehood. But he did not make any offer to Prof Kodandaram nor did the professor ask for any favour.
There was some misunderstanding between the two most important persons that made the movement for separate Telangana successful. At the time of elections, the Congress party leadership wanted a commitment from Prof Kodandaram that he would support the party in case of a contest against the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). The TJAC leader did not give the commitment that the Congress high command sought. But he promised to stay neutral in the elections. He did not get any tickets for his colleagues in the movement nor did he contest. But the decision of the professor to stay neutral in election was not taken kindly by KCR. The TRS chief thought it was a blatantly uncharitable and unfriendly decision by the erstwhile colleague. He expected the whole lot of the TJAC to support him. Had it happened, KCR would have given the professor a very prominent position in the government.
But Prof Kodandaram is never enamoured of power. Knowing his revolutionary political background, none of his associates expected him to follow KCR after formation of Telangana. He continues his role as a watchdog on behalf of the people closely watching the government and pointing out mistakes committed by the rulers. He was on a low key for two years. He has started articulating about six months ago. With the agitation against land acquisition in Mallanna Sagar project, the professor had gone ballistic with his criticism and all out support to the persons who are threatened with evacuation. But the motley crowd around Kodandaram does not give confidence that he would be able to do anything worthwhile by launching a political outfit. But he is slowly gaining traction and a section of the media had started speculating that he would soon float a political party.
After 9 December 2009, KCR, who was responsible for the decision of the Union government to form a separate State of Telangana, had slowed down. The then Home Minister P Chidambaram went back on his promise on Telangana State when the MPs and MLAs of the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from Seemandhra region resigned en masse on the morning of December 10, the next day after the announcement made by Chidambaram. At the behest of KCR, a Joint Action Committee was formed with Prof Kodandaram as the chairman and Mallepalli Laxmaiah, a Dalit intellectual and activist, as co-chairman. It was a good combination and both of them with the help of the TRS, TDP and CPI leaders had taken the movement forward with a creative action programme. In fact, KCR participated in some and stayed away from some other. But the credit for taking the movement to its logical conclusion had to be shared by KCR and Kodanadaram.
Now KCR and his family members are in full command ruling the new State with authority. Prof Kodandaram has been playing the role that suits his personality, the role of a watchdog. He has been critical of the government in regard to Mallanna Sagar, creation of new districts and many other issues. However, the leaders of different groups who were part of the TJAC before elections were weaned away from him by KCR. Kodandaram is left with no established leader. Mallepalli Laxmaiah was given the assignment of developing Budhavanam at Nagarjuna Sagar. Buddhism is close to Laxmaiah’s heart and he is likely to put his heart and soul in the work to create a monumental centre for Buddhist studies. KCR, though autocratic and whimsical, is still popular with the general public.
For the present, Prof Kodandaram would continue to work for the farmers and the downtrodden, the work he has been doing throughout his life. Launching a political party now is far away from his mind. If KCR get unpopular or some political uncertainty surfaces in future, then Prof Kodandaram might think of a political party, that too reluctantly. He is not the typical politician who can mobilize money to run a party. For his temperament, it is extremely difficult to found and run a political party successfully. But if the Congress party, which does not have a credible leader in Telgangan, offers the leadership role and the local leaders, are prepared to work under him without inhibitions, he might consider the offer. It is, however, most unlikely.