2019 poll alliances: Telangana CM KCR keeps his options open

KCR-led TRS will not have any pre-poll alliances. The rally on Sunday was held to reaffirm his primacy in Telangana by making a show of strength while keeping his political options open

NH photo
NH photo

Ashlin Mathew

It was an unusual political event. Organised at a mega scale by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi and attended by nearly one million people, its purpose remained unclear till the end. Party president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had dropped titillating hints that before the meeting, he might convene a cabinet meeting to take a decision to dissolve the Assembly so that the state could go to polls a little before the Lok Sabha elections early next year.

Though the Cabinet meeting was held, no such announcements were made. If the idea behind the mammoth rally was to show his party's strength, it was quite unnecessary because the TRS hardly faces any major political challenge. Congress, the principal opposition party, is riddled with infighting and the Bharatiya Janata Party, that rules at the Centre, is a negligible force in the state. And, much to the surprise of one and all, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, known for his quips and punch dialogues, largely held his fire against his political opponents. The party maintained that the meeting was held to apprise the people of the programmes and development held in the state. Other speakers too did not indulge in any opposition bashing.

On Sunday, there was nothing but people as far as the eye could see amidst a spattering of bright pink paraphernalia. It has been their colour since the days of their agitation and it’s a metrosexual hue, says the party. For the public meeting ‘Pragathi Nivedana’ organised by the ruling party, at least 10 lakh people had congregated at Kongara Kalan village on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Sunday. However, more than 20 lakh people were expected.

There was no doubt that the public meeting was meant to be a show of power to both the Centre and the primary Opposition in the state, which is the Congress. But, what marked his public speech from the others was that there was hardly any Opposition bashing. All that KCR, a critic of both the Congress and BJP, said was that the people in the state should not become a “slave to the parties in Delhi”. The state will have its say and wants to have its say at the Centre. And playing tune to this line, the party will not have any pre-poll alliance.

“We don’t know what will happen next year. Why should we say anything at all now. Today’s alliances may not be tomorrow’s reality. Many people say one thing before the election and another thing after. We want to do no such thing. It’s only a matter of months. Soon, it will be 2019. Let us see who will emerge victorious. We don’t think either the BJP or the Congress will win a majority. Both have lead the country a number of times and let down the country too. We need a new alternative. It will be the regional parties who will have a greater say this Lok Sabha poll,” said K Kavitha, Nizamabad MP and KCR’s daughter. She is the younger of the two siblings.

All that KCR, a critic of both the congress and BJP, said was that the people in the state should not become a “slave to the parties in Delhi”. The state will have its say and wants to have its say at the Centre. And playing tune to this line, the party will not have any pre-poll alliance

“Why should there be any alliance? We are strong in our state and we will win at least 100 of the 119 Assembly seats. In a hypothetical situation, if early Assembly elections are held in the state, it will help us. We are likely to win the state and this will allow us to go into the Lok Sabha polls riding on a win and allow us time to speak to and look at potential partners and alliances,” said KT Rama Rao, KCR’s son and the state IT minister.

Elaborating on the Lok Sabha elections, KTR said the party would win 16 of the total 17 seats, indicating that Hyderabad seat would be won by the Owaisis of the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen MIM). TRS has had good ties with MIM and both father and son see MIM as a friendly party,  and KTR counts the older Owaisi, Asaduddin, as his friend. “This is not a bipolar world. I believe there is room and space for all,” pointed out KTR.

“Last time we won 11 Lok Sabha seats and this time we hope to improve our performance. With 16 seats, we want to have a greater say in national politics. We want to play a decisive role. Our party leader has a vision and a common minimum programme. Our alliances will be decided on how we can translate these programmes into policies. This time, neither BJP nor the Congress will be able to form a government on their own at the Centre. Even the Congress partnered with JD(S) in Karnataka and the Chief Minister is from a regional party. Many such realities will come to the fore after the Lok Sabha polls. We hope to bring together strong regional parties to form a federal front,” emphasised KTR.

Both the siblings agreed that there was no need for an alliance now. “There are many parties with their own regional compulsions. They are all a part of some other alliance currently. A picture will emerge only after Lok Sabha polls. We are now equidistant to both parties,” said a smiling Kavitha.

The state has a large number of minority and backward classes population. Muslims constitute at least 12% of the population, Scheduled Tribes 9%, Other Backward Castes form around 40%, Scheduled Castes are at least 20% and the other groups form only 18%. “This makes the state different. There is not much of caste politics as one would see in Andhra Pradesh. So, we have to look after the interests of our backward communities and minorities,” asserted Kavitha.

So, why did an astute politician like KCR chose to spent to much money, energy and effort on holding the mega rally?

The only plausible answer is that he wants to reaffirm his primacy in the politics of Telangana by making a show of strength while keeping his political options open after the Lok Sabha polls next year to align with whosoever emerges as the winner.

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Published: 04 Sep 2018, 10:07 AM