After rebranding the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) into the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao addressed his first major public meeting outside the state on Sunday, 5 February.
In the meeting at Nanded in Maharashtra, he promised the farmers all the welfare measures implemented in his home state if they backed his party.
As it was his maiden public meeting outside Telangana, the party leaders had ensured an impressive turnout.
Enthused by the huge crowd, KCR spoke mostly on problems being faced by farmers in Maharashtra, and how he intended to bring about a transformation in their living standards if they joined hands with him.
After TRS went national, KCR addressed his first public meeting at Khammam on 18 January in which three chief ministers — Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Singh Mann, and Pinarayi Vijayan — took part, lending a national aura to it.
At Nanded, there were no such frills, as it was more like a farmers’ convention. His address had a strong “kisan” flavour as those who attended the meeting were mostly farmers and farm labourers.
अबकी बार, किसान सरकार : बीआरएस अध्यक्ष, सीएम श्री केसीआर. pic.twitter.com/svmDBNEBbL
— BRS Party (@BRSparty) February 5, 2023
KCR plays up schemes for farmers
KCR apparently decided to connect with the farmers with the schemes he was implementing in the state — Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bheema, and round-the-clock power supply.
Though the audience did not go into hysterics, they sat through and listened to him attentively as he spoke in Hindi, with Maratha and Hindi idioms thrown in, to hold their attention.
He spoke at length about the number of farmers’ suicides, which he said was very high in Maharashtra, and wanted to know why farmers had to suffer like this and for how long.
KCR also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “Make in India” slogan.
He said it had become a “Joke in India” now, and wanted an answer from him on why there were China Bazaars in every town and city in the country and why India had to import everything — including the colours that people use in Holi, or Deevali crackers, or even Indian flags or manja for flying kites — from China.
Referring to crony capitalism in India, he said if one party favoured Ambani, the other helped Adani, which was very unfortunate.
‘Country needs radical transformation’
KCR said at the rally that he had realised lately that there was a need for a radical transformation in the country’s governance.
He said the time had come for change as basic needs like drinking water, power supply, and irrigation facilities to parched lands remained a will of the wisp.
“My struggle is not for any political gain. It is for the farmers who are facing a life and death problem,” he said.
KCR added that what pained him most was the revelation that the highest number of farmer suicides in India were taking place in Maharashtra.
They have been toiling hard in fields, and yet they are not able to make both ends meet, he said, adding: “This is the reason I have given the slogan ‘Ab ki bar kisan sarkar’.”
KCR made an attempt to hard-sell the Telangana model of development to the farmers in Maharashtra, saying that if he could provide round-the-clock power supply to farmers free of cost, why not for the rest of India?
“The change that Telangana has witnessed should take place all over the country,” he said.
‘India lacks proper irrigation’
Expressing concern over the lack of commitment of the successive governments in attending to the perennial problem of crops drying up due to lack of irrigation facilities, he said it was imperative that the country chose a new path for making agriculture profitable.
He asked that if a small country like Zimbabwe could have the largest water reservoir, why not India?
“In several countries, there are reservoirs whose capacities range between 3,000 tmcft and 5,000 tmcft. But in India, we have no such reservoirs. Don’t we need such reservoirs?” he asked, eliciting a response from the audience.
He said that building a reservoir under the current dispensation at the Centre had become next to impossible because it takes decades for making water allocations to states as it is entrusted to tribunals who take their own time.
“If one has the political will, it is not difficult to supply water to each and every acre in India and drinking water to each and every household,” he said.
Also read: People of Telangana our family, says KTR
‘Farmer should become legislator’
KCR also said at the rally that India was not a poor country, as it was being made out, as it has huge natural reservoirs that have not been exploited.
For this to happen, farmers should become legislators, or their fate would not change.
“India is richer than the US in natural resources, but the people have no access. India has huge cultivable land, but there is no irrigation facility. For instance, there are quite a number of rivers flowing through Maharashtra, and yet, there is a scarcity of water,” he said.
KCR also sought a reply from the Congress, which ruled the country for 54 years, and the BJP, which had been in power for 16 years.
“Both these parties wasted time by blaming each other without actually applying their mind to attending to the pressing problems, ” he said.
Subsequently, KCR told reporters that the BRS aimed to change the water policies and bring in a new mechanism for water supply in the country.
“Why are water wars between states being encouraged when there is adequate water to irrigate every acre of land in India?” he asked.
On the occasion, several leaders in the Nanded district joined the BRS. They included sarpanches and leaders from the Congress, the BJP, and the Shiv Sena.
Earlier, after arrival in Nanded, KCR offered special prayers at the Nanded Gurudwara. Then he paid tributes to BR Ambedkar and Maratha leaders.
(With inputs from PTI)