Opinion: How is KCR different from Modi?

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t believe in democracy but in a dictatorship. He is an arrogant Prime Minister, who feels he has no accountability towards the people.”

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This was the comment made by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president and chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao during his two-and-a-half-hour-long press conference, making a blistering attack on the Prime Minister.

He went on to say, “Modi thinks he is a permanent Prime Minister of India. In a democracy, nobody is permanent. He is pulling down the governments which oppose his rule and suppressing the voice that doesn’t agree with him. He is misusing the Constitutional bodies to crush his critics.

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KCR also accused the Prime Minister of favouring a few big industrialists and mortgaging the country’s prestige before them.

“People of Sri Lanka hit the streets in protest against your recommendation for projects to an industrialist closer to you. You behaved not like a Prime Minister but a salesman of your favourite industrialists,” the TRS supremo said.

He said Modi had nothing to claim in the last eight years and that he had taken the country backward by several decades. “There has been rampant corruption, unemployment, and crisis in agriculture and the rupee value has fallen to alarming levels. Not a single section of the society is happy with Modi – farmers are agitated, unemployed youths are disturbed and minorities are feeling insecure,” he said.

KCR, anyway different from Modi?

In all the above comments made by the TRS supremo, if one were to replace the word Prime Minister with Telangana chief minister and Modi with KCR, one would find hardly any difference.

In fact, one can find a lot of similarities between Modi and KCR in their personalities, style of functioning, political manoeuvring and their utter contempt towards their political rivals and even their critics.

If Modi is arrogant and despotic, KCR is no less arrogant and dictatorial. Like the Prime Minister, the Telangana CM, too, doesn’t tolerate anybody who directly questions him and his authority. Both of them adopt their own methods of using the official machinery to crush their opponents and also to protect their own selfish interests.

Like Modi, KCR is also inaccessible to the common people on a regular basis. Unlike his predecessors – whether it was late N T Rama Rao or N Chandrababu Naidu of late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, who used to meet the people as frequently as possible by conducting programmes like Praja Darbars or Prajala Vaddaku Palana or Racha Banda, the Telangana chief minister doesn’t bother to into the people.

But KCR has not been following any such tradition right from the day one of assuming power. He has been mostly confined to his palatial official bungalow Pragati Bhavan in Hyderabad or his farmhouse at Erravelli village in Siddipet district. His Pragathi Bhavan is a virtually fortress, or “gadi” – the impregnated bungalow of erstwhile feudal lords as the opposition leaders call it, as the common man has no access. Even his MLAs and ministers cannot enter the premises without prior appointment.

Only when KCR wants to address any public meeting or launch any programme, does he take up tours in the districts, but there, too, he hardly mingles with the people. One can count on one’s fingertips the occasions when he met the people, like the one at Vasalamarri in Yadadri Bhongir district in December 2021 or his native village Chintamadaka in Siddipet district in July 2019.

In this aspect, KCR is a replica of Modi. The Prime Minister, too, is not accessible to the common man, as he hardly goes into the people, except during official functions. The only way one would listen to Modi is his lectures or messages on television channels to make important announcements like demonetisation, lockdown and vaccination for Covid-19.

Every month, Modi addresses the people through his “Mann Ki Baat” programme on All India Radio – but it is only like one-way traffic. As somebody has put it, it is not “Jan ki baat” as they have no questions to ask, but only to listen to what he preaches.

With regard to reaching out to the people through media, there is, however, a slight difference between Modi and KCR. While the Prime Minister doesn’t address any press conference on any issue of public importance, KCR does conduct press conferences now and then, if not on a regular basis; but only when he wants to convey something strong to the people or attack the opposition, particularly the Modi government.

But, this press conference, too, is mostly one-way traffic and the reporters have to simply note down what KCR says. Of course, he takes questions from the media, but only those he feels convenient to answer; but if there are any questions that irritate or embarrass him, he will simply shout down the reporter, snub him and even humiliate him in his typical style.

The Telangana chief minister said the other day that there is a kind of undeclared emergency in the country, as the Modi government suppresses all voices of dissent and threatens indirectly, even the judiciary who question his government’s policies.

But KCR is no different in this regard. In his regime, too, there is no scope for any dissent by any section of people. He made a vain attempt to close down the Dharna Chowk at Indira Park to prevent the opposition parties from holding dharnas against his government.

The opposition parties or independent fact finding committees do not get the police permission to go anywhere where there is a problem. For example, when the opposition leaders like PCC president A Revanth Reddy or BJP president Bandi Sanjay wanted to visit Indian Institute of Information Technology, Basar in Nirmal district to express their solidarity with the agitating students last month, they were arrested midway.

When Revanth wanted to call on the youth arrested in Secunderabad violence, he was arrested. When the Congress leaders wanted to protest against the power tariff hike, they were kept under house arrest.

How about destabilising opposition?

KCR has accused Modi of destabilising the opposition parties and toppling the opposition-led government in the states. Well, what Modi and his team are doing is highly reprehensible, the TRS president, too, has to see the accusing finger pointing toward him.

“Like Narendra Modi, the Telangana chief minister, too, doesn’t respect the Constitution. He should not forget that he, too, has committed the offence of engineering defections in the opposition parties and destabilising them,” said former minister and senior Congress leader Mohammad Shabbir Ali.

While PM Modi has engineered defections in several States like Goa, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra to topple elected governments, KCR has gained strength in Telangana only by encouraging defections since 2014, he said.

In the first two years of coming to power in 2014, KCR poached as many as four MPs, 25 MLAs and 18 MLCs of opposition to the Congress, TDP, the YSR Congress and the BSP into the TRS.  In his second stint in 2018, too, the TRS chief used the same tactic to weaken the opposition Congress by engineering the defection of 12 Congress MLAs and two TDP MLAs in the second term.

Shabbir Ali said both the BJP and TRS were equal partners in committing the offence of violating the Constitution. “Strangely, KCR is now targeting PM Modi for the offences which he has committed several times,” he said.

Another allegation made by the Telangana chief minister against Modi is that the latter wanted to continue as the permanent Prime Minister by conspiring to see that there is no opposition in the country.

“But KCR, too, has no different thinking. He, too, wants to ensure that there is no opposition in the state and that the TRS should rule the state for a long time. If not himself, he wants his son to be at the helm for another two or three decades. In this aspect, both KCR and Modi are the same. They take inspiration from Chinese premier Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” Revanth Reddy said.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi MLA and in-charge of Telangana affairs Somnath Bharti described KCR as ‘Chhota Modi.’ “His arrogance only supports the claim… Just like BJP failing in every state in all aspects.

TRS has failed massively in Telangana, KCR sahib is known as Chhota Modi in Telangana,” Bharti said.

Both Modi and KCR seem to be encouraging personality cult in their respective parties. While the Congress is often blamed for nurturing this personality cult right from the days of Indira Gandhi, the BJP had never witnessed his culture in the past, even during the regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

But after Modi came to power at the Centre in 2014, the BJP has been witnessing this new trend. Modi is being revered as a god by his “Bhakths.” Any criticism against Modi is blasphemy and the critics are either harassed by the central investigation agencies or attacked by Bhakths or subject to trolling in the social media. Within the BJP, too, nobody can dare question his decisions.

In Telangana, too, a similar personality cult is being witnessed with respect to KCR. For the TRS leaders, cadres and followers, he is a “Telangana Bapu” or “Father of Telangana” or an “Architect of Modern Telangana.” Day in and day out, the social media sponsored by the TRS projects him as a saviour and showers him with praises for whatever he speaks and whatever decision he takes. The critics of his policies will be subject to harassment or trolling.

For the first time in the last eight years, a new trend of eulogising KCR has crept into the society – conducting Ksheerabhisekham or milk bath to the portraits of the chief minister, whenever he makes any announcement – whether it is for the release of Rythu Bandhu amount or for paddy procurement or even payment of dearness allowance to the employees!

And lastly, let us come to KCR’s famous “Washing Powder Nirma..” attack on Modi during his press conference last Sunday. In a sarcastic attack on the Modi leadership, he said just like how the washing powder would remove dirt on clothes, corrupt politicians were getting purified when they joined the saffron party.

He played a video clip with the background music of a famous detergent advertisement, featuring Sujana Chowdary, CM Ramesh, Hemant Biswa Sharma, Narayan Rane, Mukul Roy and even former TRS minister Eatala Rajender. “Like washing powder Nirma does, has the BJP cleansed all these leaders?” he asked.

But little has KCR forgotten that this advertisement applies even to him. Several strong opponents of Telangana – right from Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Danam Nagender, Errabelli Dayakar Rao, Gangula Kamalakar.. the list is endless – have now become darlings for KCR and saviours of Telangana.

They all had close links with Andhra leaders, but now they talk about Telangana culture, tradition and sentiment and criticise the opposition leaders for protecting the Andhra interests. So, after joining the TRS, their past has been washed away, like washing powder Nirma does.

What do we call it, if not hypocrisy?

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