The tug of war political attitude increasing between Telangana Chief Minister KCR and Prime Minister Modi. Pitical analysts witmessed the aggressive attack by KCR and soft or neglected attotude by Modi. But BJP leadership adopted severe attacks on KCR in the recent past. The forthcoming elections in Telangana will witness interesting politics.

‘Best defense is a good offense’, is a popular adage. This perhaps can best describe the frontal attack launched by K Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Minister of Telangana State on the BJP and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in recent weeks.

Though, KCR started his political moves to build a coalition of opposition parties against the NDA Government led by Modi a few months ago, his criticism of the BJP attained ‘sharp and direct’ tone on the PM and the Union government’s let down of Telangana State on the eve of the BJP National Executive on July 2-3 in Hyderabad.

Was the sudden and full blast criticism a well calculated move that will bring in political dividend? Was it aimed to just remove the sheen out of the star-studded, BJP national executive meet and dwarf the BJP’s publicity and reach to the people? Was it scripted by KCR himself or was Prashant Kishore alias PK behind it? Did KCR resort to the tactic because he and his family are facing corruption charges, especially with the Kaleswaram lift irrigation project? Many questions arose.

The drama unfolds

Even before the PM arrived in the State Capital on July 2, the TRS Government painted the city pink and put up huge flexies and posters extolling the KCR government’s achievements. The front pages of most of the top newspapers were full of the government’s successes in the form of ads issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations.

The Chief Minister was joined by his son, K T Rama Rao, the articulate minister for IT, Industries and Urban Development, who took on the PM and BJP leaders in an uncharacteristic tone in meetings and on Twitter. One of his tweets read, “ Welcome the WhatsApp University for its executive council meeting to the beautiful city of Hyderabad. To all the Jhumla Jeevis; Don’t forget to enjoy our Dum Biryani and Irani Chai”.

The CM too, put aside courtesies of receiving or even welcoming the PM to the State and instead went ballistic in criticism and the language and tone he adopted towards the PM surprised many. He went out of the way to project that the Modi Government was depriving its due financial resources, not fulfilling promises at bifurcation while putting out data to show how the performance of the young State was among the top in the country.

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BJP lands all top stars, PM silent on KCR

The BJP’s answer was to land its top party leadership from Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Yogi Adityanath, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal etc. to bolster its vociferous State Unit led by the ‘no holds barred’ critic of KCR and TRS- Sanjay Bandi. The party also competitively put up hoardings, posters and flags of saffron and Modi-Shah across the city. It’s huge public meeting at the Parade Ground, addressed by Modi was the highlight.

But, the most conspicuous aspect of the ‘Pink Vs Saffron’ duel during the two day BJP meeting was the PM, Modi totally avoiding the mention of KCR or criticising him politically during his speech at the public meeting. In a way, it was described as a ‘damp squib’ or politically deliberate tactic, by political commentators depending on their perception.

KCR fires another round

Piqued by the unexpected response of the PM perhaps, KCR appeared at a media conference a week after on Sunday and launched into a direct diatribe on Modi and his government. Describing Modi as the ‘weakest and inefficient’ PM of the country ever, KCR said the present government should go and a non-BJP government should come.

Alleging that the BJP led NDA Government was corrupt, KCR pointed out that the fall in GDP, rise in inflation, deprecation of the rupee, increase in prices of gas, diesel and petrol, unemployment shooting up to 8.3% etc., exposed the inefficiency of the Union government.

Even while going all out against the government and the BJP leadership during the marathon 150 minute media conference, the Telangana CM clarified that he did not have any personal enmity with PM Modi. It was his policies that he opposed. Some analysts infer that KCR is leaving one option open with the statement for the future political compulsions.

The BJP was quick to respond to KCR’s tirade. Bandi Sanjay said, “ KCR’s political days are numbered and there are several Eknath Shinde’s in the TRS. It can be his son, daughter or nephew (Harish Rao)”. The language the CM is using is also shameful, he added.

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Will the Strategy work?

With the impending anti-incumbency (10 years in power), looming financial crisis and a belligerent BJP, which is fancying big chances upping its ante, KCR has in all probability decided to go on the offensive to gain ground ahead of the 2023 December assembly elections. His forte is the language (which people of Telangana understand best), narrative and big promises and welfare schemes. During the thick of the 2018 elections, his targeted attacks on Rahul Gandhi and N Chandrababu Naidu, who formed an alliance, yielding good connect with turned into votes. The emotive appeal for Telangana and vitriolic barbs on specially Naidu in media meets and election gatherings proactively connected well.

Perhaps, taking a cue from that experience, KCR (with inputs by PK, who is reportedly helping the TRS), has decided to adopt “Offense as the best form of defence” against the BJP and Narendra Modi, who is the best campaigner around. He is also betting on a possible alliance with the Cong(I) in an eventuality in 2023. Asaduddin Owaisi’s, AIMIM will anyway be an alliance partner in Hyderabad, it’s stronghold.

In addition to the offensive, KCR can always fall back on the emotive ‘Bangaru Telangana’ sentiment, political witch-hunting, in case of probes by the ED and allegations of corruption on Kaleswaram and other mega projects like Mission Bhagiratha, Kakatiya and Harita Haram in the coming months. Talk is ripe of him preponing the elections to the Summer of 2023. For KCR too, it’s one last chance perhaps to see his son, KT Rama Rao in the saddle in Telangana and aspire for a national role in 2024, when parliament elections are due.

The genesis of the Big Fight

The ‘opportunistic’ understanding between the TRS and the BJP, described by KCR as ‘Issue based’, yielded good results till the elections to the GHMC in 2020. It was true, especially in the preponed 2018 assembly elections, when the TRS swept the polls. In the 2019, parliament elections, the BJP gained with 4 MPs from Telangana. In a way, it was win-win at the State and Union levels for both.

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However, the BJP, which was nurturing ambitions of emerging as an alternative to the TRS in the State used the Urban local body elections to test the waters. The State unit with full backing of the National leadership took on the TRS and AIMIM (which were alliance partners in assembly), which were also fighting independently.  The results were a big boost for the BJP, which got 48 seats in the 150 member GHMC, a close second to the TRS.

Emboldened by the response from the voters the BJP led by Bandi Sanjay and Arvind Dharmapuri went ‘hammer and tongs’ at the TRS government. The BJP state president undertook a padayatra highlighting what he termed as ‘dynastic and corrupt rule’ of KCR and family in Telangana.

While the State BJP kept up the political pressure, the Union Government unleashed economic pressure by tightening the scope for borrowing on the KCR government, which was sliding fast on the resources front. At another level, the Enforcement Directorate came down heavily on big corporates, which were close to the ruling dispensation and part of huge projects like the over Rs one lakh crore Kaleswaram lift irrigation. The state came under criticism as the Centre refused to buy the paddy, which was the predominant crop of Telangana.

All these developments were clear pointers to the emerging battle for 2023. At another level, the CM and his trusted, Jeeyar Swamy, who was overseeing the entire, mega Ramanuja Statue project of My Home Group’s, J Rameshwar Rao, fall apart on the eve of the inauguration. KCR kept away from the function, where PM Modi dedicated the complex called ‘Statue of Equality’ to the nation. In a quick reaction, KCR got his ambitious Yadadri Temple opened without inviting the PM as originally contemplated in close quarters.

Meanwhile, KCR took off on a tour to a few opposition ruled states to meet the CMs there in a bid to forge a common platform against the NDA government. He met Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, Deve Gowda/ Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru, M K Stalin in Chennai etc. The efforts did not gain momentum.

Overall, for the 68-year-old KCR, 2023 will be a ‘do or die political battle’ which will determine his and the future of TRS. The million dollar question is will his belligerent strategy work? #KhabarLive #hydnews #hyderabadnews