1 unlikely & 2 likely reasons why TRS chief KCR is hastening his foray into national politics

Analysts believe the TRS district presidents would not have made their move without tacit approval from KCR.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Sep 09, 2022 | 7:00 PM Updated Sep 09, 2022 | 7:00 PM

Balka Suman TRS Leader

TRS supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s foray into national politics appears imminent, with the party’s mouthpieces on Friday, 9 September, announcing the move would come sooner rather than later.

In identical front page stories, Namaste Telangana and Telangana Today said that KCR would continue to be chief minister even as he starts to play a more prominent role in stitching together a national opposition to the ruling BJP at the Centre.

Details of who to ally with and how to forge a front will be decided only after his proposed party is formally launched, the papers said.

While talk of the TRS chief’s intention to launch a national party — likely to be called Bharatiya Rythu Samithi, or BRS — has been doing the rounds for five-six months now, the fact that, on Friday, all district chiefs of the TRS assembled in Hyderabad as if on cue to urge KCR to make his move into national politics was telling.

After an hour-long meeting at the party headquarters Telangana Bhavan, the district chiefs held a press conference to stress the need take the “Telangana model of development”, especially its farmer-friendly policies, to the entire nation.

Flurry of activity

The run-up to Friday’s announcement of “Mission New Delhi” saw KCR make some preliminary moves. He quite unexpectedly flew down to Patna to meet with his counterpart in Bihar, Nitish Kumar, and was closeted with him for over an hour.

The meeting was followed by a joint press conference where he minced no words about how the “communal and divisive BJP” was a threat to the very fabric of the nation and the need for a national alternative to take on the party in the general election in 2024.

On 11 September, he will be hosting JD(S) leader and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in Hyderabad. Kumaraswamy himself met with Nitish Kumar — often spoken of as the person around him a national alternative could coalesce — in New Delhi earlier in the week.

In recent weeks, KCR has also stepped up both the intensity and frequency of his attacks against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Every public speaking opportunity and a few press conferences have seen him taking on the BJP and Modi politically and ideologically.

The TRS has also, in the past two months or so, made it a point to quickly and pointedly counter every assertion or claim by the Centre or the BJP with facts and figures, and even humour.

Why now? Three scenarios

There is speculation in political circles and among analysts about the reasons for KCR’s urgent push to launch himself and his party nationally.

Some analysts believe it is in response to the recent raids by Income-Tax (I-T) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) team in Hyderabad. While I-T teams focused on real estate companies, especially those that are said to be close to the TRS, the ED teams were after businessmen linked to the Delhi excise scam who are believed to have links to TRS.

These analysts believe that while there is no threat of any direct action against KCR or members of his family, the raids serve the purpose of squeezing the flow of funds to the TRS and also keeping the party’s top echelons on tenterhooks.

While this is a plausible analysis, South First has been told this cannot be the sole reason for KCR decision to hasten the creation of the BRS.

The Congress factor

There are those who believe that Friday’s declaration of his New Delhi mission could have been prompted by the padayatra launched by Congress party Rahul Gandhi.

While the Congress may not be a big factor up North any more, explaining the BJP’s dismissive attitude to the padayatra, the party is still a factor in most of the South, and especially in Telangana.

The kind of noise that the BJP makes in the state, and the media attention it manages to garner, is no reflection of its real strength on the ground, and the TRS still clearly sees the Congress as its primary Opposition.

Given the initial enthusiasm the padayatra seems to have generated, and the fact that it will traverse through Telangana, it is possible KCR felt it was imperative to project the TRS as the party really standing up to the BJP and the Centre, and usurp the space the Congress too seeks to occupy.

A BJP ploy?

Critics of KCR paint a third possible scenario for the TRS chief’s sudden announcement of his “mission”. The scenario suggests he is doing it at the behest of the central leadership of the BJP and the aim is to divert attention from, and lessen any possible impact of, Rahul Gandhi’s padayatra.

This, however, is an unlikely scenario.

The fact is that KCR’s moves on the national stage began well before the padayatra was on the horizon, and given the virulence of his recent attacks on the BJP and more particularly on Modi, it is unlikely he is playing the BJP’s game.

The BJP, moreover, does not generally hold the Gandhi scion in high esteem and is highly unlikely to feel threatened by the padayatra.

KCR’s intentions

The clearest indication that KCR has given of his intentions was at a recent public meeting in Nizamabad where he outlined how he would play an active role in national politics and usher in “farmers’ rule at the Centre”.

At the public meeting, he had promised free power supply to farmers all over the country, which, it is said, would form the core of the farmer-centric manifesto that he was coming up with. At the public meeting, he said that the next government at the Centre would be “ours’, indicating that he may not be averse to leading it.

It is possible that KCR would announce the formation of the new national party from Hyderabad itself, before long. Then only is he expected to get around to the formation of a front with the participation of all the parties that are ranged against the BJP.