Saturday, December 10, 2022

Is KCR treading Naidu’s 2018 path?

  • KCR diatribe against BJP crossing limits
  • Assumption that Modi would lose in 2024 may not be right
  • Going back to Congress not a good idea
  • Trinamool would be a non-starter

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) appears to have done the same calculation that his friend and leader in the TDP Chandrababu Naidu did in 2018. It was the assumption that Narendra Modi would lose elections in 2019 that made Naidu to go hammer and tongs against the prime minister and his NDA government in 2018 and 19. KCR seems to be under the impression that Modi is sure to lose this time in 2024 elections. That was why he had decided to mount a serious campaign against the NDA government and the BJP’s superman.

The drums of death

The drums of death that were sounded across Telangana state on Monday as  a mark of protest against the attitude of union government towards Telangana in general and paddy procurement in Telangana in particular were the result of the assumption of Modi’s defeat. It was an extreme step as far as KCR is concerned. All ministers and office bearers of the TRS have started their campaign against the BJP and union government without taking the name of the prime minister. A number of ministers camped in Delhi for an interview with Piyush Goel, the minister concerned. They were made to wait in Delhi for two days and allowed to meet him on Tuesday. The union minister criticized the State ministers for traveling to Delhi without prior appointment.  Normally, ministers visit Delhi after being duly invited or getting an appointment with ministers before leaving Hyderabad. This visit was one-sided. The idea was to give yet another memorandum to the minister if he agreed to meet them and blame the minister if he refused to meet.

KCR takes risks

KCR is known for his risk-taking mentality. Even in 2014  he decided to dump the Congress astonishing Sonia Gandhi and go it alone in the elections.  I thought he was making a grave mistake. I told him so. But he managed to convince the people of Telangana that he, as a leader of the movement, was more important for them than Sonia Gandhi, who gave the statehood for Telangana. He won the election and rest is history. This time also I feel he is gambling with greater risk. Had he lost elections in 2014 no harm would have come his way. But if he loses this time after two terms and a lot of criticism against Modi, and the NDA dispensation continues even after 2024, which is most likely, he will be in trouble. Had UPA won in 2014, Sonia would have made KCR, the chief minister, dance. She is no angel. She was also vindictive. But challenged and wounded Modi is far more dangerous adversary than Sonia.

Modi yet to reconcile with Naidu

Modi is yet to reconcile with Naidu who criticized him in 2018-19 rather uncharitably by asking how can a person who could not manage his wife would be able to manage the affairs of a country. Naidu went to Lucknow, Kolkota to share dais with opposition leaders. He visited Delhi to put a shawl around the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s neck. He campaigned for the Congress in Telangana. In fact, till Naidu entered Khammam for the campaign, KCR was addressing election meetings but they were listless and without a powerful impact. He got his theme right only after Naidu came to Khammam and Hyderabad. KCR asked Telangana people if they wanted to be ruled by Naidu by remote control from Amaravati. That did the trick. Even those who wanted to vote for the BJP and the Congress voted for TRS. Naidu was aggressive in his attack on Modi since he thought the latter was sure to lose. Now, the very same Naidu has been waiting for years for an appointment with Modi. KCR does not seem to have learnt anything from Naidu’s experience.

Huzurabad was turning point

Ever since November 2, when the results of Huzurabad by-elections were announced and BJP candidate Etala Rajender won, KCR has changed his tactics. He decided to attack the BJP and the local faces of the saffron party. Bandi Sanjay was targeted for some weeks. Later, it was Kishen Reddy, Union Minister for Culture. He stopped criticizing the Congress. First it was understood as a tactics to undermine Revanth Reddy, TPCC president, by not taking cognizance of his presence and his fight against the TRS. By concentrating on BJP, he was deliberately ignoring the Congress which even today has more vote percentage than the BJP in Telangana.

Either way, KCR would lose

When kCR escalated his attack on the BJP and went to Chennai and held talks with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Stalin, a close friend of the Congress, it is assumed that he would slowly move towards the Congress and go for a tie-up in 2023 elections. He may even try to get the elections advanced. By projecting himself as a fighter against Modi and the BJP, he might be able to get closer to the Congress. If Congress still remembers the slight it was administered by KCR more than seven years ago and refuses to be friends again, he might go with the Trinamool Congress which is considering itself more powerful than the Congress under Rahul Gandhi, who is most likely to get elected as party’s president before August 2022. Either way, KCR would not gain.

Defeating Modi would be a remote possibility as far as 2024 elections are concerned even if Trinamul and Aam Admi Party agree to fight under the Congress command. The Hindutva card will work for once more. In case of a divided opposition, it would be a cake walk for Modi.

Best bet for TRS

Going with the Congress in Telangana is not a good idea either. TRS has a chance in 2023 (or earlier) only when the BJP and the Congress are equally strong and divide the anti-establishment vote almost equally. If Congress becomes TRS’ ally, all the anti-incumbency votes and anti-Congress votes will go to the BJP which will try all the tricks in its election bag  to win over the disgruntled Congress and the TRS leaders who fail to get the ticket because of the alliance between their parties. KCR should not forget that the BJP is ruling at the Centre and commands money bags unlimited what with undisclosed electoral bonds.

The best bet for KCR would be to strengthen TRS by touring the districts and meeting as many people as possible rather than indulging in desperate gambling. Let the BJP and Congress vie with each other in gathering their votes so that they would split the opposition votes equally thus enabling the ruling party to benefit. The anti-BJP rhetoric is good and needed but it should not be overdone.

Also read: Rosaiah would be remembered for his ready wit and sober demeanour

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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