KCR’s Mission: BJP-mukt Bharat or Cong-mukt Bharat?

Hyderabad: After a gap of nearly three years, Telangana Rashtra Samithi president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has resumed his mission to build up a third alternative political force at the national level by holding confabulations with various political parties.

For the last few days, he has been more aggressive in his attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A couple of days ago, KCR gave a call to the people across the country to “root out” the BJP government at the Centre which, he alleged, has been weakening the rural economy, damaging the hereditary trades and playing havoc with the farm sector only to benefit the corporate.

He wrote a strongly-worded letter to Narendra Modi demanding rollback of the increased fertiliser prices and castigated the Centre for removing subsidies on fertilisers which had been there for several decades. He called upon the farmers to take up their ploughs and revolt against the Modi government.

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KCR also urged the people of Telangana to confront the BJP on the latter are anti-people policies at every opportunity. He warned of state-wide and countrywide agitations against the Central government.

It is obvious that the TRS supremo’s strategy is to send a message across the other opposition parties in the country that he is getting ready to take on the BJP at the national level. On December 14, KCR went to Chennai and held meetings with Tamil Nadu chief minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M K Stalin to discuss the possibility of reviving a third front.

On January 8, the Telangana chief minister invited national leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India for lunch and held discussions about the present political situation in the country and the need to build up an anti-BJP front at the national level by next elections.

It is a matter of courtesy for the Communist leaders to meet the chief minister of the state since they were holding their respective party meetings in Hyderabad and the chief minister himself invited them for lunch. So, top CPI (M) leaders including national general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Tripura chief minister Manik Sircar, CPI (M) politburo members Ramachandran Pillai and Balakrishna, besides CPI national general secretary D Raja, CPI Parliamentary Party leader and Kerala MP Binay Viswam and Kerala revenue minister Rajan and others met KCR.

Naturally, issues like the anti-people policies of the Modi government including the paddy procurement issue, massive disinvestment in public sector undertakings, usurping of powers of the states which is against the federal spirit, misuse of central agencies to target BJP’s political rivals etc came up for discussion.

The meeting led to the talk that KCR has discussed with the Left parties on making efforts to ensure a BJP-mukt Bharat by the consolidation of all the like-minded parties in the coming days.

Three days later, a delegation of the Rashtriya Janata Dal led by its leader Tejaswi Yadav came down to Hyderabad for a “courtesy call” to the Telangana chief minister at Pragati Bhavan. Along with Tejaswi Yadav, who happens to be the leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly, former minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui, former MLC Sunil Singh and former MLA Bhola Yadav met the chief minister.

There was a leak to the media from the chief minister’s office that KCR had also made a telephonic call to Tejaswi’s father and RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav and discussed the efforts to form a third alternative at the national level.

Why only pro-Congress parties?

If one takes a close look at the meetings being held by the Telangana chief minister, one can notice that the leaders he is meeting are not only hardcore ant-BJP parties, but also pro-Congress.

In fact, the DMK headed by the Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin and the RJD headed by former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav are part of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance headed by the Congress and are still electoral allies of the Congress in their respective states.

Even the Left parties prefer joining hands with Congress if it is essential to pull down the BJP-led NDA government, but not with any other front that would indirectly benefit the BJP.

Even before the 2019 general elections, the TRS chief made a similar attempt in the name of building up a federal front of anti-Congress and anti-BJP parties. He went on meeting one regional party leader after the other hoping to build such a federal front, with an ambition of playing a decisive role in national politics.

But whom did KCR meet then? He held discussions with Stalin, Janata Dal (S) chief H D Deve Gowda and his son Kumara Swamy, West Bengal chief Mamata Banerjee, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemanth Soren, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.

It is evident that all these leaders were associated with the Congress party in one way or the other. Even Mamata Banerjee was part of the UPA government till the 2014 general elections when Modi came to power.

Though Mamata, following her resounding victory in the last year’s assembly elections in West Bengal, is looking down upon the Congress as a lesser force, there is no doubt that she will not hesitate to join hands with the Congress if required to prevent the BJP from coming to power again.

If KCR really wanted to float a third front of anti-BJP and anti-Congress parties, he should have also held talks with pro-BJP leaders like Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakre, Akali Dal chief S S Badal, Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader (late) Ajit Singh and Lok Jan Sakthi Party chief (late) Ram Vilas Paswan.

The TRS chief, who went all the way to Chennai to meet Stalin, did not bother about holding talks with All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) leaders like O Palani Swamy or E Panner Selvan, allies of the BJP, on the formation of a federal front. For that matter, he did not even discuss this federal front idea with his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy of YSR Congress party, who also has friendly relations with the BJP, though not part of the NDA.

This led to a talk that KCR was only trying to weaken the Congress party at the national level by weaning its alliance partners away in the name of a federal front so that it would ultimately benefit the BJP at the national level.

And when the BJP returned to power at the Centre with a massive mandate in May 2019 general elections, KCR conveniently dumped the federal front idea. He began maintaining friendly relations with the Narendra Modi government, as he had done in the previous term.

While the TRS supported the NDA on issues like demonetisation, Presidential and Vice Presidential elections etc in the first term of Modi, it supported quite a few decisions of the Modi government in the second term such as controversial agriculture laws. It also backed BJP candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections.

So, it is nothing but natural that various anti-BJP regional parties have started looking at KCR with some kind of mistrust. Stalin told him outright that any front without the Congress would be futile. A similar impression was given by Sharad Pawar, who said the role of the Congress cannot be ignored if the BJP has to be pulled down.

Yet, KCR has once again started his attempts to form an anti-BJP front at the national level but once again, he began contacting only pro-Congress parties like DMK and the RJD. However aggressive he might talk against the BJP, it is pretty evident that he doesn’t want the Congress to be part of his scheme of things. So, he wants a Congress-Mukt Bharat as well.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president A Revanth Reddy suspects that KCR’s latest attempts are part of the overall strategy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “KCR is trying to target parties who are either constituents of the UPA or those working in understanding with the Congress like the CPI and CPI (M). His only intention is to harm the Congress party by distancing other parties from it with the talk of a third-front. KCR never tried to discuss a third-front proposal with the AP CM Jagan Mohan Reddy or other parties who are part of the BJP-led NDA,” he said,

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