Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao threw open the gates of the newly-launched Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Delhi at an auspicious moment on Wednesday, 14 December, with his eyes fixed on the “national” tag for the party he founded more than two decades ago.
Started as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in April 2001, it had been used by Rao — often referred to as KCR for short — to cleave the state of Telangana from a united Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Now, the BRS chief wants to use the party to cobble together a coalition that could take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
As a trial run of sorts, his party is planning to partner with the JD(U) for the Karnataka Assembly elections early next year.
To these ends, KCR performed an elaborate yagam on Wednesday, invoking Raja Shyamala — also known as the Goddess Matangi, the Tantric form of Saraswati, who is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the arts — at the Delhi office of the BRS.
He is also said to have invoked the Goddess of Shakti to ensure the well-being of people and to help him access, retain, and perpetuate political power.
KCR inaugurated the BRS office on Sardar Patel Marg in Delhi at the auspicious hour of 12.37 pm by unfurling the party flag.
Present on the occasion were Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav and Janata Dal (United) leader HD Kumaraswamy, as well as representatives of a few other parties.
The Raja Shyamala yagyam
A yagam for the three-eyed, dark-complexioned Raja Shyamala Devi comprises offerings of clothes and grains to Agni in the homam.
On Tuesday, KCR began the process of the yagam by completing the preliminary rituals. The main yagam was performed on Wednesday with the help of 12 ritwiks (priests), amidst the chanting of Vedic hymns.
Under the supervision of Sringeri Peetham Gopikrishna Sharma and Phani Sashanka Sharma, the yagam began with the invoking of Lord Ganesha at 11 am, followed by Punyahawachanam, Yagasala entry, chanting of Chandi and Moolamantra japam. These were followed by the Nava Chandi yagam.
Finally, the entire process came to an end with the Raja Shyalama homams.
This is the second time that KCR has performed the yagam. The first was at his farmhouse in Earraveli in the Siddipet district of Telangana in 2018, on the eve of the Assembly elections in the state.
On 24 December of the same year, KCR and his wife Shobha Devi visited Sarada Peetham in Visakhapatnam after winning the election and taking over as the chief minister for a second term. There, they offered special prayers to the goddess.
A temple dedicated to the Goddess Raja Shyamala in the entire country exists only in Visakhapatnam, at Sarada Peetham’s premises in Chinna Mushidiwada.
Farmer affiliate launched
Wednesday was also the day BRS turned one day old. However, KCR is already setting it up to have a national footprint, and bolstering its push with references to Telangana’s development model.
His entry into the new BRS office in the national capital symbolised the beginning of the party’s activities from Delhi.
He also launched the Bharat Kisan Samithi as an affiliated organisation. KCR appointed Gurnam Singh Chaduni as its president. He is from Kurukshetra in Haryana.
(अबकी बार किसान सरकार)आज तेलंगाना राज्य के मुख्यमंत्री श्री KCR जी की राष्ट्रीय पार्टी भारत राष्ट्र समिति के दफ्तर का उद्घाटन किया गया और मुझे ( किसान संगठन) भारत राष्ट्र किसान समिति का राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष बनाया मेरे सभी किसान साथी और केसीआर जी का धन्यवाद ✌️✌️✌️✌️🙏🙏💪💪🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/z1nDLZdBO4
— Gurnam Singh Charuni (@GurnamsinghBku) December 14, 2022
The party activists celebrated the occasion as a festival. They stuck party flags along Delhi streets, but some of these were later removed by Delhi Municipal Corporation officials.
KCR’s daughter and MLC K Kavitha arrived in Delhi much ahead of the ceremony, but his son and Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao gave it a miss as he had important engagements with software majors.
He later took part in the Raja Shyamala Yagam.
The TRS leaders believe the BRS is now on a par with other national parties, though there is still a long way to go for the party to be recognised as one by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Seeking national appeal
Having failed in his first attempt to form a coalition of Opposition parties for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, KCR has changed his strategy by revamping his party as one with a national appeal so that he, as its president, may take the lead.
In 2019, KCR suffered setbacks as the TRS won only nine of the 17 seats it contested, as four went to the BJP, three to the Congress, and one to the AIMIM.
Having learnt from that experience, he is now trying to test the waters in other states and pick up as many seats as possible in both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
To begin with, he has announced a tie-up with Kumaraswamy for the Karnataka Assembly elections, where BRS leaders are expected to contest in districts that were a part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
BRS leaders believe that the inauguration of the party office in Delhi has sent out signals loud and clear that it has come to challenge the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though not in the form of a document, the BRS has already given enough indications that its focus would be on the agriculture sector.
KCR recently said “Abki bar, Kisan sarkar”, taking a cue from the BJP’s own “Abki bar, Modi sarkar” slogan from 2014.
That this was a legitimate effort became clear at the inauguration of the Delhi office, where the slogan was emblazoned larger than the party’s name on posters.
BJP targets KCR
Even as KCR was helping the BRS spread its wings in Delhi on Wednesday, the BJP sharpened its attack on him.
Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar described the BRS as a fatal virus, but his own party as a vaccine that provides protection from such pathogens.
“Now people will decide what they want,” he said during the fifth phase of the Praja Sangrama Yatra in the Turgasipalli village in the Gangadhara mandal of the Jagtial district of Telangana.
He alleged that KCR was blackmailing a few TRS MLAs with the misdeeds allegedly committed by them and forcing them to remain in the party.