Hyderabad: The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government recently took everyone by surprise when chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) announced the year-long birth centenary celebration of former Congress prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao (PVNR). Moreover, KCR’s daughter and ex-member of Parliament K. Kavitha has demanded that PVNR’s be conferred with the Bharat Ratna award.
This begs for the question to be asked: why is the TRS appropriating a former Congress prime minister? The answer, according to TRS leaders, is a move to finish two birds with one stone and to consolidate the Hindu vote bank. While it is evident that KCR has ensured Muslim votes with his “friendly” relationship with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, his party now wants to also secure a “Hindu vote bank”.
Through its latest move to appropriate PVNR’s legacy, the TRS is also trying to ensure that it does it before the Bharatiya Jana Party (BJP) in Telangana. “It will help us to get votes of Hindus or to keep it intact. Some traction has to be there for us as a counter (to the BJP). Muslims can also oppose KCR, but they must understand the KCR is here to run politics,” said a TRS leader from Hyderabad, who requested anonymity.
The TRS leader also pointed out that PVNR’s grandson is in the BJP, so it will be easy for the saffron party to claim the former prime minister’s legacy easily. Moreover, the buzz in TRS circles is that PVNR’s daughter may also be nominated to the state legislative council. However, the party has not announced anything on this front publicly.
On Wednesday (26 August), Kavitha, at an event, had shared stage with PVNR’s daughter Vani Dayakar Rao, adding credence to what the TRS leader told siasat.com. “If PVNR’s daughter is given a seat, it will be all over the news. If we give her a nominated post, we can also draw Brahmin and upper caste votes from the Hindu vote bank. It is not a big deal to give her one MLC seat,” the TRS leader added.
Moreover, the TRS perhaps also wants to avoid the kind of appropriation that has happened with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wherein the BJP has always accused the Congress of neglecting Patel’s legacy. And given that PVNR was the prime minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, it will be easy for the BJP to co-opt him in Telangana. However, it seems that the TRS has pulled the rug from underneath before that can happen.
“The major proponent in Telangana is the Congress, which never owned Narasimha after the demolition of Babri Masjid, and in a way discarded him despite his success as a prime minister. The TRS is trying to build on soft Hindutva. PVNR was a true proper Telugu son-of-the-soil and since the TRS has no icon, it portrays him as one. The BJP has done this with Patel, and even Bhagat Singh,” said Sumit Anand, a political analyst who worked in Hyderabad during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
It is to be seen what kind of an impact this will have on the TRS’s prospects, especially given the fact that AMIM chief and member of Parliament from the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat Asaduddin Owaisi, who is on good terms with KCR, had campaigned for the TRS during the 2018 state polls and 2019 general elections. His praise for KCR is what is believed to have gotten the TRS a large chunk of Muslim votes in seats where it mattered.
In fact, in the 2018 state elections, the AIMIM had contested only eight seats, leaving the TRS to gain Muslim votes in Telangana, where the minority community’s population is about 12.5 pc.