A year ahead of facing the electorate in 2019, seeking a fresh mandate for a second term, the TRS is about to celebrate its 17th foundation day on April 27 where the party’s plenary will take decisions that would not only decide the future of Telangana, but also, to some extent, influence the course of nation’s history as party supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is expected to unveil a road map for the formation of a federal front.
When Rao quit as Deputy Speaker of undivided AP in 2001 and founded Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), with the sole aim of fighting for statehood to the Telangana region, it was a very small organisation. The leaders of Telugu Desam Party and those of the Congress used to scoff at Rao as he began his journey.
After winning the elections in 2014, Rao, as the Chief Minister of newly formed Telangana state, recalled: “When I started my journey with a small lantern in my hands, the road was not visible. There was darkness everywhere. But I kept moving and as I did, one individual’s desire became a people’s movement.”
Instead of resting on the laurels of his victory at the hustings in 2014, he kept his shoulder to the wheel to bring about all-round development to the state, for whose creation, his contribution was singular, though there were others too, including TJAC chairman M Kodandaram who later fell out with him and has now formed his own political party.
After the TRS won the elections, KCR said: “Now, the responsibility on us is more. We have to work twice as hard to convert the land into Bangaru Telangana.” Since then TRS has been claiming that it has been striving to realise this objective.
The opinion is divided over the style of functioning of KCR – his detractors call him a dictator and his supporters describe him as a visionary. But all agree on one important and formidable aspect of KCR – he is a very shrewd politician and has an uncanny sense of knowing what to do and when to turn the tide of popular opinion in his favour and discredit the opposition. Unlike the other politicians, KCR knows how to keep the others guessing on what his moves are in staying ahead of the opposition all the time.
If one recalls how he led the Telangana movement after the death of the then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in 2009, one would know how, being in opposition, one could reduce the ruling party into a bundle of nerves. When KCR begins speaking, his words hit the opponents like bullets. He never uses long sentences. His forte is using short sentences which are as sharp as razor’s edge. The words that he used against Telangana Congress and TDP leaders had reduced them into dummies.
He grew very tall by discrediting the two leading parties – ruling Congress and the TDP – and a stage came where the opposition was afraid of saying even a harsh word against him, lest people might vent their anger against him. The Telugu words that he had used against that TDP and the Congress leaders were quite unique and English journos used to find translation difficult for words like “thottigang and lathkore.”
Unable to swallow humiliation and incapable of hitting back, the leaders of the two parties suffered silently to the extent that finally a majority of them decided that swimming against the current was futile and joined the pink panthers more to escape the daily humiliation rather than seeking any party sinecures.
He vanquished the ruling Congress and the TDP even before the elections. He dubbed Telangana Congress leaders power mongers and those of the TDP as Telangana betrayers.
In February 2014, unable to face the pressure of TRS and the people of Telangana, UPA-II divided the state by piloting the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014, thus ending the rule of Seemandhras on Telangana. Riding on the Telangana wave, it was not difficult for KCR to capture power, turning upside down the hopes of the Congress that the people would be grateful to it for delivering Telangana state. It knew it would lose AP and it came true – none of its candidates could even retain security deposit, but in Telangana, it was nowhere near the magic figure.
If winning the election was one challenge which KCR had overcome, then steering the state on the road to development was another since it was the second most immediate challenge.
An astute politician that KCR is, he quickly realised the need to vanquish TDP completely. He took care to prevent any green shoots from emerging from Telugu Desam roots buried under the ground, and engineered defections of TDP MLAs till only two were left. Though its original strength was only 65 in a house of 119, it swelled to 90 with MLAs from TDP, Congress, YSRC, BSP and CPI joining the TRS.
Having made his government strong, he had initiated several measures – the latest being ensuring 24-hour power supply to agriculture wells which was unheard of in Telangana.
This apart, he has gigantic projects going – Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation, Mission Kakatiya and Mission Bhagiratha – all meeting the irrigation and drinking water requirement of people of the state which is their most urgent need.
This apart, KCR has come out with Rythu Bandhu which is expected to be a vote spinner in the next elections as all farmers regardless of how much land they have would get Rs 8,000 per year per acre (Rs 4,000 for kharif and Rs 4,000 for rabi) and the amount would be paid to the farmer in cash. Though farmers are supposed to use it for agriculture purpose, there is no way the government could prevent them if they use it for purposes other than agriculture. The scheme is being rolled out on May 10.
Now that KCR has set his eyes on Delhi as his son is waiting to step into his shoes, he is going to be an important factor in the national politics. Already he has set the ball rolling for federal front whose aim is to build a coalition of parties to serve as an alternative to the Congress and BJP and revamp the Constitution itself so that the Centre would have few subjects like security of nation, external affairs, defence, infrastructure and monetary policy –all other subjects would be transferred to the states. Thus far, KCR has been on a roll. It remains to be seen how effective he would be in national politics. #KhabarLive