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Years After Backing His Separate Telangana Call, Maoists Turn on KCR

Maoists’ idea to boycott elections in the state is not new; it has always been their ideology. The underlying message is the anti-KCR sentiment that has been resonating in such groups, one which has been building up ever since KCR shot to power in 2014.

Rishika Sadam | CNN-News18

Updated:November 3, 2018, 1:11 PM IST
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Years After Backing His Separate Telangana Call, Maoists Turn on KCR
File photo of Telangana chief minister and TRS president K Chandrashekar Rao. (PTI)
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Hyderabad: In the interiors of Telangana, in a village in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district, Maoists put up banners, posters and letters calling on people to boycott the upcoming elections in the state.

One of the banners, using stones as support, was put up in the middle of the road, halting the usual traffic in the Upedu Veerapuram village on Thursday.

The message was clear. It asked locals in and around the Venkatapuram Mandal to boycott elections and, more importantly, boycott caretaker chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao , popularly known as KCR, and his party. The letter said none of the promises made in 2014 were fulfilled.

Local police, who said the message was from outlawed CPI (Maoist), have tightened the security cordon in border areas. In fact, another letter has been circulated in the nearby EturuNagaram-Mahadevpur area with the same message.

Earlier this month, a few such letters calling political parties as “opportunistic”, were sent by other Maoist groups to Mancherial district in the state.

Maoists’ idea to boycott elections in the state is not new; it has always been their ideology. The underlying message is the anti-KCR sentiment that has been resonating in such groups, one which has been building up ever since KCR shot to power in 2014.

Back in 2009, the enthusiasm to fight for a separate state was shared by various groups, including the Maoists.

“At the time, KCR had also said that Maoists’ agenda is my agenda, for which he was ridiculed,” says N Venugopal Rao, the editor of Veekshanam, a regional magazine in Hyderabad.

So, what changed in these four years? It is not just unfulfilled promises that have put them off. Most Maoist groups feel that the movement for Telangana was misused as a platform for KCR to rise to power.

Moreover, amid recent reports of KCR warming up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the groups believe that there is now a strong ideological difference.

“They lost confidence. Maoists believe that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is interested in facilitating the Modi government’s agenda to eliminate Maoists and that their regime is an ideological threat to Maoists,” Prof. Nageshwar Rao, a political analyst, told News18.

The first big blow by the KCR government to the Maoists was in September 2014, soon after he took the CM’s post. Several activists were held just before a one-day convention named ‘Forum for Alternative Politics’ organised by Left groups. A few of the activists were picked up from their houses by the police. According to reports, around 200 people were taken into custody.

The Telangana government has also conducted extensive combing operations. Allaying fears of a spike in Maoist incidents after it came to power, the KCR government also teamed up with other states to ensure zero incidents.

In March this year, Maoists groups had issued a warning to TRS leaders and to KCR after 10 guerrillas of the CPI-Maoist were killed in a gunfight with the state police.

The killing of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and former Araku MLA Siveri Soma by the Maoist groups in Andhra Pradesh last month has raised an alarm in both states before the crucial Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Nageshwar Rao, however, played down the threat, saying it does not necessarily mean a larger conspiracy. “Elections are a time when it is easy to target leaders and show people that these groups are very much present. So, they do give such warnings,” he said.

Telangana police chief M Mahender Reddy, however, has asked local officials to put border regions of the state on high alert and increase the presence of security personnel. The DGP is also undertaking a tour to sensitive areas to inspect security set-up before elections.

| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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