In view of forthcoming elections, to capture the Telangana-based Andhra people votes, TRS leaders paid rich tributes to former Chief Minister and film star NTR on his birth centenary on May 28, applauding his contributions to the united Andhra Pradesh.

The discussion in Telangana political circles was inevitable after ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders participated in the birth centenary celebrations of late former Chief Minister NT Rama Rao (NTR) on May 28. Particularly since many of them were previously members of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which was founded by the late actor-turned-politician. For the first time, TRS Ministers Puvvada Ajay Kumar, Ch Malla Reddy, TRS floor leader Nama Nageswara Rao, former Minister Motkupalli Narasimhulu, MLA Arekapudi Gandhi,  MLA KP Vivekananda and others had visited the NTR Ghat on Necklace Road in Hyderabad to pay tributes to the former CM. Further, they announced that the party would demand posthumous Bharat Ratna for NTR’s contributions to the united Andhra Pradesh.

TRS chief and CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is a known admirer of NTR, even naming his son, KT Rama Rao, after the late leader. He worked under him as the Deputy Speaker and as a Minister. However, KCR later formed his own party to achieve separate statehood for Telangana. The party achieved its goal and came to power in the new state in 2014.

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Since the formation of the TRS, the party has been dissociating itself from Andhra leaders, but now in an apparent attempt to co-opt NTR the leaders have announced that they will fight for his due recognition, raising eyebrows in political circles.

With the TRS now in conflict with two major political parties – the Congress and the BJP – in the state, appropriating NTR has become inevitable for the party, say political analysts. “Both the national parties (BJP and Congress) are now a threat to the TRS. And since NTR is a figure who broke the myth of a “Central” government and promoted federalism by raking up regional/Telugu sentiment, they are trying to co-opt him,” said political analyst B Sudhakar.

Before this present decision to demand the Bharat Ratna for NTR, in 2020 KCR had included a lesson on the late leader’s life in the Class 10 syllabus. The lesson focused on how NTR, a film star, succeeded politically by forming the TDP, and went on to become the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1982 on the plank of Telugu pride. Along with this, the lesson also outlined the TDP’s welfare measures – like the Rs 2 kg rice scheme – which were hailed for being pro-poor.

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“The TRS party by nature was never opposed to the Union government; in fact, they were against the regional sentiment that had ensured that the state remained unified. But due to the present political compulsion where two national parties have been emerging as a threat, they are now invoking the regional sentiment,” Sudhakar added.

The Congress, which is the principal Opposition, has always been a force to be reckoned with in Telangana. It had won a 25.02% vote share in the 2014 Assembly polls, which increased to 28.4% in the next election. Similarly, though the BJP had won only one seat in the 2018 Assembly election, three of their MLAs have won in the subsequent bye-polls.

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Earlier, the TRS was accused of similarly appropriating the legacy of former Congress Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao. KCR had held a yearlong celebration to honour the Telugu PM. Further, his government had also passed a resolution to confer the Bharat Ratna on Rao, along with a demand to rename the University of Hyderabad as PV Narasimha Rao Central University.

“NTR is a leader beyond Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP. And now that there is no TDP base here, the TRS is trying to capitalise on it,” said former MLC Professor Nageshwar. The TDP is facing an existential crisis in Telangana. Its former Telangana president L Ramana had abandoned the party and joined TRS last year.

“There is a huge Seemandhra population in Telangana. The TDP base is traditionally anti-Congress so they won’t vote for them. Similarly, they are angry with the BJP for not granting Special Category Status to AP. So, the TRS is trying to win this vote bank in the coming elections,” said Nageshwar. #KhabarLive #hydnews