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ANALYSIS | Why PM Narendra Modi Praised KCR During No-Confidence Debate

In fact, the BJP president asked the party cadre to stop bragging about forming the next government in Hyderabad, telling them it ain’t happening. Instead, he instructed them to fan out into the countryside and do some serious legwork.

TS Sudhir |

Updated:July 21, 2018, 1:29 PM IST
ANALYSIS | Why PM Narendra Modi Praised KCR During No-Confidence Debate
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao (File photo: PTI)
On Saturday morning, when senior leaders of the BJP in Telangana spoke to each other, a sense of resignation hung heavily in the air. A few hours earlier, during his reply in the Lok Sabha on the no-confidence motion, Narendra Modi had praised K Chandrashekar Rao for displaying maturity and sagacity in focusing on development in Telangana instead of continuing to squabble with Telugu Desam Party and Andhra Pradesh. In one stroke, Modi had taken the wind out of the state unit’s sails that was focusing its energies on building an aggressive anti-KCR narrative.

“Clearly the interests of the BJP in Telangana are not of paramount importance to the leadership sitting in Delhi,'” said one leader. “It blunts our entire campaign. But we cannot do anything. This praise will mean the anti-TRS lot who may have voted for the BJP, will now gravitate towards the Congress.”

Frankly, if the BJP high command has decided to dump its Telangana unit in the Godavari, it is not really surprising. During his one-day visit to Hyderabad this month when he held three separate meetings with party heads and affiliate units, Amit Shah had got a sense that the party was far from battle-ready and in contention to win in Telangana.

In fact, the BJP president asked the party cadre to stop bragging about forming the next government in Hyderabad, telling them it ain’t happening. Instead, he instructed them to fan out into the countryside and do some serious legwork.

Showering praise on KCR was with the intention to kill two birds with one stone. One to rile Chandrababu Naidu whose bitter personal equation with KCR is the worst kept secret in the country. Naidu who takes great pride in his administrative skills, being a hands-on chief minister, having built the modern part of Hyderabad, had been reduced to a state boss who had brought an Andhra political feud with the YSR Congress to the Delhi stage. To make Naidu feel inferior to KCR, who was once transport minister in his cabinet, was a certain recipe for Naidu rage.

The second reason was to ensure that Telangana compensates for the possible electoral loss in Andhra, where the BJP right now has two MPs. Modi’s praise could ensure KCR is softened enough to pitch in with support if the BJP is short of numbers after the 2019 election.

The fact that those in the TRS have been circulating over social media the 42 second clip, where Modi speaks of KCR in glowing terms, is proof that the PM’s arrow has hit its designated target. Even though the TRS abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha, the PM’s certificate is certain to be used by the party to further boost KCR’s stature. It will be of interest to see how KCR's ally Asaduddin Owaisi reacts to this groundwork being done for a post-poll alliance with the BJP.

At the same time, the praise exposed the tacit understanding that most suspected Modi and KCR have. When the Telangana CM floated the idea of a non-BJP, non-Congress front this March, the unanimous opinion was that it was only with an eye to help the BJP. KCR also kept away from the CM support morcha for Arvind Kejriwal and was not part of the opposition photo-op at HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony in Bengaluru.

The no-confidence motion also saw how the AIADMK has been reduced to an outpost of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. Unlike the TRS, its MPs even voted for the government, making no bones over who was remote controlling the regional party. Quite a dramatic change in the AIADMK that under Jayalalithaa, would make New Delhi quiver with her mercurial temperament. Not to forget that Jayalalithaa had contested the 2014 polls projecting herself as a PM aspirant, resulting in an impressive tally of 37 out of 39 seats even at the height of the Modi wave.

Not that the AIADMK did not have its share of complaints against the Centre. Its representatives read out a long list of grievances and demands during their speeches but when push came to shove, they decided to stand by Modi. Forgotten was how the BJP in order not to displease its political interests in Karnataka, delayed the formation of the Cauvery Management Authority till the elections in the upper riparian state were over. Forgotten was how the state government has not been able to get its way with the Centre over NEET, where Tamil Nadu's students have not been able to fare well.

Lest it be construed that the income tax raids on a highway contractor considered close to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami was used to put pressure on the AIADMK to vote for the government, the party pointed out that the motion was moved by the TDP over denial of Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh. The AIADMK points out that if Andhra is granted special status, it will give it an unfair advantage affecting a neighbouring state like Tamil Nadu. Already, there has been a flight of capital from Tamil Nadu to border districts like Chittoor and Anantapur.

The fact that the Congress and the DMK, that has no Lok Sabha MPs, supported the TDP’s motion gave the AIADMK the fig leaf of an excuse to oppose it. This development could result in the AIADMK and the BJP fighting the 2019 polls together to take on the DMK-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu. And more significantly, it will be on BJP’s terms.​

(Author is a senior journalist. Views are personal)
| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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