TRS to Join NDA: Ministerial berths for Jitender, Kavita?

Special Correspondent

New Delhi/Hyderabad: Decks are reportedly cleared for Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The ruling BJP and the TRS have been inching closer for some time with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) changing his tack and praising the demonetization move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The crucial support extended by KCR to Modi when the latter was being lampooned and slammed by many of the opposition parties was not without quid pro quo. That KCR has been keen on joining the ruling alliance at the Centre is no secret.

As long as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu was close to Modi and the terms between the chief ministers of AP and TS were not cordial, the question of TRS joining the Central government did not arise.

Thanks to Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu, the two chief ministers have buried the hatchet and moved closer by all means. The ‘Note for Vote’ case has been put on the backburner and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACP) has almost abandoned investigation in the case. The intentions of the TS government and KCR are loud and clear.

The bonhomie and good humour prevailing between KCR and Chandrababu Naidu besides the active cooperation extended by Venkaiah Naidu has helped things to improve from the perspective of the TRS supremo. While KCR has first denounced the demonetization move and then supported it, Chandrababu, in contrast, had first welcomed the move only to express doubts later. This U-turn by Chandrababu Naidu has not gone down well with the prime minister who is known as a politician who neither forgets nor forgives. KCR went to Delhi specifically to meet Modi and express his solidarity.  On his return, the chief minister repeatedly told the Assembly and meetings elsewhere about the discussion he had with the PM. The fact that KCR was fascinated by his meeting with Modi and the latter’s response to his hints at partnership was visible in his face and voice.

Observers have noted the change in KCR’s attitude towards the BJP and the Centre. The CM was found referring to BJP leaders Kishen Reddy and Laxman in the Assembly session a number of times. Union Ministers have increased their visits to Hyderabad. K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR), KCR’s son and an important minister, has been frequently visiting Delhi and building bridges of friendship with Union ministers.

Giving exemption from entertainment tax to the film, ‘Gautami Putra Satakarni’, in which Nandamuri Balakrishna played the title role is not without purpose. Balakrishna is closely related to Chandrababu Naidu. On Monday, KCR has promised all possible help to  ‘Swarna Bharati Trust’ run by Venkaiah Naidu’s daughter Deepa Venkat. The Trust, founded many years ago at Nellore, has recently expanded to cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada. Inaugurating the Trust at the new building, KCR praised Venkaiah Naidu and his daughter for the social service they are rendering. It may be noted that KCR never uttered a word against the PM or the BJP or AP CM for some months. His attitude has completely changed after he met the PM in the wake of demonetization.

There has been a talk in political circles in Hyderabad that KCR is trying his best to get into the ruling alliance at the Centre following the MGR formula of having no quarrel with any ruling party at the Centre. MGR thought it would be counterproductive to fight the Union government since Delhi is all powerful and it can create problems to the State governments if it wished.

In the event of TRS joining the coalition which is likely to happen after the budget session of Parliament, it is expected to be followed simultaneously by the Cabinet expansion. After entering the second half of his first term, Modi might think of effecting some changes in his Cabinet. He has been monitoring the functioning of his colleagues and rating their performance. He might wish to drop some and draft them for party work, a BJP version of Kamaraj Plan.

 If the TRS becomes a partner in the coalition like the TDP, it may be given two slots in the Cabinet, one cabinet rank and another, the rank of minister of state. Jitender Reddy, MP from Mahaboobnagar, and Kavita, KCR’s daughter and MP from Nizamabad, may be taken into the ministry. Kavita may be made a minister of state with independent portfolio while Jitender Reddy may get the cabinet rank. Kesava Rao, the intellectual politician who is a Member of Rajya Sabha, would be keen to join the Union Cabinet but his chances are not that bright.

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