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OPINION | Lukewarm Response to Federal Front Idea Forces KCR to Rethink on Congress

The Congress may be KCR's arch-rival in Telangana, but the party is not at all a threat to any of the leaders he has met in the past two months.

Jinka Nagaraju |

Updated:May 2, 2018, 10:36 AM IST
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OPINION | Lukewarm Response to Federal Front Idea Forces KCR to Rethink on Congress
Nobody knows what transpired in his Chennai meeting , but KCR has softened his stand with regard to the Congress.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has completed three meetings and is set to hold one more to discuss his grandiose plan of stitching a non-BJP, non-Congress ‘federal’ front.

First, he flew to Kolkata in a special flight to meet West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and to convince her on the need for a ‘third front’ in Indian politics. Later, he called on JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda in Bangalore. Two days ago, KCR flew to Chennai, again in a special flight, to seek DMK patriarch Karunanidhi’s support for his dream project, and held discussions with Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son and DMK working president.

A fourth meeting with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is on the cards. KCR is expected to pay a courtesy call to Patnaik during his pilgrimage to Puri next week.

The Telangana CM also had a luncheon meeting with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemanth Soren, who was on a private visit to Hyderabad.

But the outcome of these highly publicised meetings is not commensurate with the brouhaha KCR generated among the cadre of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) with his announcement that he wants to change the destiny of this nation on the lines of Telangana.

KCR often cites the example of China, which he says became a global economic power in just 25 years after Deng Xiaoping took reins. He laments that India’s two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, failed to develope India.

KCR told his party’s rank and file that he has plans to replicate his ‘Telangana model’ at the national level. When he unveiled his roadmap to national politics in March, TRS cadre cheered with slogans like ‘Desh ka neta KCR’ and ‘KCR lao desh ko bachao’.

His announcement that he himself would lead the non-BJP, non-Congress front has sent across the message that the ‘Telangana bidda’ (son of Telangana) might also be in the prime ministerial race. It triggered milk baths for this portrait across Telangana.

Addressing a huge gathering of the 17th TRS plenary session on April 27, KCR said to a thunderous applause that he had plans to trigger an ‘earthquake’ in Delhi with his ‘federal front’.

Except Deve Gowda, whose JD(S) has nothing against the BJP, none of the leaders — Mamata Banerjee, Hemanth Soren and MK Stalin — were enthusiastic about the objective of KCR’s proposed front.

Mamata is ready for a front against the BJP, but she is opposed to exclude the Congress. Similarly, Hemanth Soren has entered into an electoral understanding with the Congress even while KCR has been in touch with him. The DMK, too, was non-committal about KCR’s proposal.

As for his upcoming Odisha trip, CM Patnaik has made it amply clear that it would be a “courtesy call” as KCR happens to be in the state next week. “Rao is visiting Puri temple. On his return journey, he wanted to meet me. I agreed. The meeting has nothing to do with politics,” Patnaik told the media a day after KCR’s office announced the upcoming meeting.

The poor response his meetings elicited seems to have forced KCR to change his language vis-à-vis the Congress.

What emerged from the meeting with Stalin goes against the very basic objective of KCR’s idea of a federal front. He had to make amendments to the original blueprint. Nobody knows what transpired in the Chennai meeting, but KCR has softened his stand with regard to the Congress.

Flanked by Stalin, KCR talked about the possibility of taking the Congress into the proposed front’s fold. “We have not arrived at any conclusion about the Congress in the front,” KCR told the media in a clear climb-down from his firm anti-Congress stand. His idea has become too vague and confusing now. He said he was not for a realignment parties, but of people.

The Congress may be his arch-rival in Telangana, but is not at all a threat to any of the leaders he met in the past two months.

The political situation is fast turning hostile to KCR in his home state. An alliance between a strong Congress and his former aide professor M Kodandaram’s new outfit Telangana Janasena looks imminent. His critics think his surprise decision to cobble up a front against the Congress and the BJP is seen as his reaction to the emergent Congress-centric local scenario.

“KCR’s front has a purely local agenda, though he talks of national goals and national prosperity. This is an attempt to weaken the Congress. The Chief Minister might have realised by now the importance of the Congress in Indian politics,” said Dr Dasoju, chief spokesperson of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.

Many see the federal front as an attempt to divert people’s attention from the failures of the KCR government and his “collusion” with Andhra contractors, while others see it as a “drama” to facilitate smooth transfer of power to his son KT Rama Rao.

Slogans pitching him as the PM are expected to create a second wave of pro-Telangana sentiment and help the TRS win 2019 elections in the face of growing unity among opposition parties in the state.

(The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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