With Delhi’s dreams, KCR hops on the national highway

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has been a busy man of late, managing to make the news even as the airwaves have been swamped by the war in Ukraine and assembly polls in five states.

Often traveling to state capitals to meet his counterparts, KCR, as he is popularly known, is a man on a mission.

He revealed his fangs and his ambitions: to become national to face his new enemy, the BJP.

At rallies in Telangana, he tried to appear noble, linking his aspirations to the development of the country.

Read also | Don’t Call It Anti-BJP, KCR Now On Their ‘Federal Front’ Effort

“We in Telangana are making progress in all sectors. The nation must also develop. We should strive for an India that becomes bigger than the United States,” KCR said recently.

On KCR’s menu is a federal front, apparently a more serious endeavor than what it attempted just before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And KCR’s center of attack has been none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hence the talks with Modi’s critics Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait and Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren over the past fortnight.

But what role could the KCR expect in representing a state with only 17 seats in the Lok Sabha? The leaders he associates with – Mamata Banerjee, Thackeray, DMK leader MK Stalin – all have far higher prospects in the numbers game, in the case of a non-Congress, non-Congress government formation. by the BJP in the Center.

“The question of who will become PM is for later. Until then, the united fight is for people’s problems, ”said a TRS MP DH.

First years

KCR’s first contact with politics was when he joined the Youth Congress, but that didn’t last long. Soon after, he joined the TDP in 1983. In 1985, he contested the Siddipet Assembly seat on a TDP ticket and emerged victorious, and there was no turning back.

He has won the seat four times since 1985 and served as a minister in the NT Rama Rao and Chandrababu Naidu cabinets in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

In 2001, KCR established the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) after being denied a Cabinet spot by the then CM Chandrababu Naidu. The gamble paid off as the party managed to win five seats in the Lok Sabha and 26 in the Assembly in the 2004 elections.

The turning point in his political career came when the Telangana movement was raging. KCR undertook a “fast to the death” deeksha in November 2009, after the death of YS Rajasekhar Reddy in a helicopter crash.

The rapid and student protests prompted the UPA-II to announce steps to create Telangana.

After the establishment of Telangana in 2014, the KCR, seen as the political face of the statehood movement, strengthened the TRS by encouraging defections from the TDP and Congress. In 2018 polls, the TRS won 88 assembly seats, but the ruling party’s strength is now 103, again due to defections.

Credibility issue

KCR is tenacious and unafraid to take the fight to the enemy camp. This trait he shares with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata, another ally who is at odds with the BJP.

An avid reader with a fluency in Telugu, KCR is knowledgeable on many topics and has a knack for small talk; he can also easily unleash profanity against his detractors.

Unlike other southern leaders, he is fluent in both English and Hindi, a talent he believes would give him an edge in national politics. And he has the remarkable, often criticized ability to contradict his own statements.

People who were once close to him say he operates with two agendas: one for public consumption and one tailored to his interests.

KCR also has a habit of cutting ties.

For example, he once allied himself with Chandrababu, but in 2018 he called him Shani (lord of misfortune).

When the bill to form Telangana was being prepared, KCR said it would merge TRS with Congress. Later, he was accused of breaking this promise once Andhra Pradesh bifurcated. Although KCR fired Sonia Gandhi in 2014, she was attacked by TRS in the 2018 election.

“KCR is a typical politician. And he has his reasons, his situations and his electoral constraints to change his position every time,” said a senior party official.

Analysts say KCR is engaging the services of political strategist Prashant Kishor to establish itself as a credible leader on the national stage while helping it deal with the BJP threat within the state.

The view in Telangana is that KCR is looking at the bigger picture. After serving as a CM for about 10 years, KCR would like to play an important role at the Center. When that time comes, he will hand over the reins of state to his son, Rama Rao alias KTR, and travel to Delhi.

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