Telangana celebrates 8 years of statehood; future of TRS as ruling party is shaky

C R Gowri Shanker

Hyderabad: India’s youngest State Telangana turns eight years old today, and so is chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, with eight years in office.

Like Telugu Ugadi pachadi, these eight years have been bittersweet and sour for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Government.

After a bitter struggle for ages, especially in 1969 and then from 2001 onwards, Telangana state was formed with a slew of hopes, promises, dreams and aspirations to fulfill.

MS Education Academy

Chief minister and ruling TRS president Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR), the man behind the creation of Telangana with the support of Congress and BJP at the Centre, is now ruling with an iron hand.

The first CM of Telangana is now eyeing national politics and towards this he has released a spate of ads in national newspapers this time. He has also met several chief ministers (over the last few years) and national leaders to form a non-Congress and non-BJP third front. There is also talk in political circles that he may hand over the ‘gaddi’ to his son K T Rama Rao (KTR) to focus on national politics.

Will he succeed is a million dollar question.

Like any other chief minister, KCR’s tenure is marked with hits and misses.

KCR, who launched the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) with a handful of people on May 17, 2001, after he was denied a cabinet berth and had to be content with Deputy Speaker in TDP government, focused on achieving Telangana’s statehood by mobilising all pro-Telangana forces, parties and intellectuals including, Prof. Jayashanker.

After facing all odds and convincing the ruling Congress Government at the Centre and opposition BJP, he could achieve Telangana on June 2, 2014

On the good side, KCR ensured there is no power shedding, new IT companies and industries have been put on fast track, improved road network, connectivity, flyovers etc. and provided a trouble free stable government till date.  Barring some minor incidents, there has been no major communal or otherwise violent incidents in Telangana. All while maintaining a “friendly” ally in the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

Welfare and development works are needed for any government, but the ongoing financial crunch is pushing the government to wall!

Financial crunch

Eight years down the line, Telangana’s ‘atma govravam ‘(self respect) might have been restored, but some of the many promises KCR made during the Telangana statehood movement, which claimed lives of nearly 1200 youth, are yet to be fulfilled. It included the ‘KG to PG’ free education and “Bangaru (golden) Telangana” with jobs to all youth. Barring 400 and odd youth who died for Telangana, many are yet to get government benefits.

Like Congress, Samajwadi Party, DMK etc., KCR’s TRS too has the ‘family rule’ or dynasty tag with his son K T Rama Rao (KTR) being the municipal administration minister, nephew T Harish Rao being health minister, and daughter and MLC, K Kavita being the focal power centres since the formation of Telangana.

Added to it, KCR also bears the ignominy of being a “farm house” chief minister due to his frequent stay and operations from his Erravalli farm house in Siddipet district, aside from Pragathi Bhavan being his residence (and office) instead of the state secretariat.

He demolished the state secretariat, citing not so good working space/vaastu dosha, and is constructing a new one, which will be ready in a year’s time.

Since he took over the reins of Telangana, KCR has a stranglehold over the party and government, with kith and kin in major decision making positions. All leaders in TRS have to meet the foursome and ensure their blessings for posts and a smooth ride in the party.

In the process, many movement leaders have been sidelined or have quit TRS including Prof Kodandaram, founder of Telangana Jana Samithi and chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC). The TJAC was formed with the goal of achieving separate statehood for Telangana and it was founded since other political parties were reluctant to be led by KCR.

Welfare schemes

Taking a leaf from Telugu Desam, Congress etc. and his own novel ideas, KCR announced a slew of welfare schemes including Rythu Bandhu, Dalit Bandhu (Rs 10 lakh for each SC family) and other largesse and freebies for the people. In the process he landed the government in soup.

His over Rs 1 lakh crore Kaleshwaram and other irrigation projects to provide drinking water and irrigation facilities to parched areas, Mission Bhagiratha (house hold drinking water scheme) and other projects have led to a cash crunch. The projects have been hit by corruption charges from the opposition.

The Kaleshwaram project, which was initially projected at a cost Rs 30,000 crore, was revised and remodelled, draining the exchequer and forcing the Telangana government to look for new loans.

The cash crunch has shown its impact on various sectors especially delayed payment of salaries to government employees, non-release of funds to local bodies and bills to contractors!

It is learnt that government has sought permission from the Centre to raise Rs 15,000 crore in the first quarter of the new fiscal 2022-23 (April-June) by auctioning bonds but the former refused citing huge off-budget borrowings of Rs 1.45 lakh crore.

The state Finance department is facing a deficit of Rs 11,000 crore with the Centre halting auction of bonds worth Rs 3,000 crore in April and Rs 8,000 crore in May. Salaries to the government employees are delayed by over a week and 10 days, according to employees.

Adding to his woes is the ruling BJP at the Centre focussing on Telangana and drawing up a road map to win next poll. BJP’s win in Dubbak and the Huzurabad assembly by-polls and a good show in the 2020 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has raised the political temperature as well.

KCR’s sweet and sour relationship with BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi added to the political and financial issues, with the Centre raising a red flag on the state seeking loans. There is continued war of words between TRS leaders, BJP State president Bandi Sanjay and TPCC president A Revanth Reddy.

Bandi Sanjay’s frequent threat to send KCR to “Jail” for corruption has heated up the political environment in Telangana. TRS leaders hit back at BJP for “communalising” the country and dividing the society in the name of religion to garner Hindu votes.

KCR, who will be the longest serving CM soon, and KTR, assert the State is on the right track of progress and hit back at the opposition’s charges.

Going by the wily chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s decision to rope in ace election strategist Prashant Kishor to counter BJP and Congress, his third win in next assembly elections looks tough unless he does something extraordinary.

C R Gowri Shanker is as a seasoned political analyst based in Hyderabad.

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