Churning Politics in Telangana – Is KCR on back foot for a Change?

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(MS Shanker)

Politics in Telangana are churning under modicum of stability in Telangana.  K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) for a change appears to be politically on the back foot.  In the limelight are the intra party dissident differences appearing in local media and also social media from few senior party members of Telangana  Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party.

The BJP has made a very significant move by appointing Tamil Nadu. BJP chief, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan as the Governor of Telangana. She has to her credit increasing the BJP membership to over 40 lakhs in a state driven by Dravidian politics. At the same time, Mr. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra, is demitting office and returning to Telangana. Surely, Mr. Vidyasagar Rao would be given a key role to play in consolidating the BJP party status in Telangana.

Viewed in the above BJP political move to exploit the opportunity in Telangana, Eatela Rajendra, Senior Minister belonging to dominant OBC Mudiraj caste, voicing discontent against the dictatorial attitude of the KCR and his family members  has more to it than what appears on the surface.

After all, Rajendar is not only upset over the denial of all important Finance portfolio that he held in the first term, but also over ever increasing influence and domineering assertion of his son, K T Rao, Working President of TRS and heir apparent in waiting.

Rajender has allegedly leaked the key cabinet decision to the media, especially over new reforms in the Revenue Department for the staff to rise the pitch of dissent against KCR.

Furthermore, Rajendar has minced no words for making Mr. Santosh Rao, family member of KCR, as the  Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha MP, but also given more responsibilities in the party.  Obviously, a peeved Rajender told a gathering in his native Huzurabad constituency in Karimnagar district that he was not made a Minister because he happens to belong to OBC.  He said the party flag belongs to people like him within the party, who all took part in the Telangana separatist struggle to realize the dream of millions.

“Kulam perutho kotladi padavi techchukoledu. Manthripadavi yevari biksha kaadu. Gulabi jenda ownerlamu meme. Party ye vokkari jaagir kaadu.” (I did not fight to get cabinet berth on the basis of my caste.  Nor its alms of any individual.  The party belongs to us and not any individual family.)

However, Rajender after that outburst, has opted to go mute and inaccessible to media.  Is it a deliberate tactical ploy to wait and watch how the party leadership responds to his outburst?

Interestingly, neither KCR nor his son KTR responded to Rajender’s allegations. As per initial speculative local media stories, KCR, who brooks no criticism to his views, apparently is annoyed  with Rajender and most likely to axe Rajender  in the upcoming cabinet expansion/reshuffle.

Rajender is not the only leader feeling discomfort within the party after the drubbing it got in the Lok Sabha polls, but there are many other seniors sailing in the same boat. In particular, they are quite unhappy at being marginalized by other party members who recently joined the TRS.

“Yes, we are unhappy with the party leadership functioning.    KCR, of late, has become more suspicious and started doubting even his confidants.  One can understand the panic as he failed to ensure his daughter retaining the Nizamabad  Lok Sabha seat, in spite of his personal efforts.  He is also worried as the BJP could expand its base from its traditional stronghold of Hyderabad as it created a record of sort wining four MP seats. Four MP seats means equal to 20-25 assembly seats,” admitted one of KCR close aide on condition of anonymity.

KCR steered the party back to power in 2018 with a impressive mandate and taken some corrective measures too.  He kept KTR and T Harish Rao out of his cabinet, in a bid to erase the image of ‘family rule’.  However, he backtracked soon after that.  Within months he named his son KTR as party president, annoying his nephew Harish Rao as well his supporters, who went on and held a dharna too before the party headquarters.

Well, the protests subsided reasons best known to both KCR and Harish Rao. Yet, KCR could not ignore his nephew by keeping him away from the party’s campaigning committees just before the 2019 LS polls.

Though, Harish Rao has been redrafted into one of the committees, yet the damage has already been done and it was evident from the polls results.  The TRS, which boasted to win all the 16 out of 17, as it left the lone Hyderabad seat to its ally AIMIM, just retained 9.  The BJP won four and the Congress 2.

Since then, the BJP has intensified its efforts to expand its base in the state.  On the other hand, the Congress, which not only fared badly in both the assembly and LS polls, but also lost its principal Opposition status to AIMIM in the state assembly. Twelve out of its 17 members, switched over to the ruling TRS party.  Adding to their woes, the TDP members, who still hold some influence in few pockets of the state, too have joined the BJP.

The BJP has intensified its poaching efforts of disgruntled TRS MLAs.  BJP President and Home Minister Amit Shah’s claimed that 40-50 TRS MLAs are in constant touch with him to switch sides at one of his recent public meetings. It has also sent shivers down the spines of KCR and his family members.

The BJP’s game plan is to capture T-state in 2023 is evident from the induction of K Kishen Reddy into the Union Cabinet as well giving him all important ‘Home’ portfolio, though of the state rank.  Yet, key departments of the Home, were assigned to Kishen Reddy, who also held the state party Presidentship in the past.  He is well aware how to neutralize the surging influence of the AIMIM, not only in the vicinity of GHMC limits, but also in other parts of the state, where minorities have considerable influence as major vote bank.

As per grapevine, Mr. Ramana of the TDP, erstwhile prominent MLA of Karimnagar is likely to join the BJP.

State BJP unit president K Laxman claims that his party is confident to win more than 50 seats in the upcoming GHMC come what may.  In the last GHMC polls the TRS bagged 99 of 150 seats.

“The party cadre is rejuvenated with the recent Lok Sabha poll results.  We are not only confident to capture the GHMC, but also many more local bodies in various districts,” claims a confident Laxman.

But, senior TRS leader Hanumantha Rao, who represents Malkajgiri assembly constituency, makes light of BJP claims.  He said there is no immediate threat to the party and their leader KCR as he enjoys absolute hold over the party.  “BJP has every right to dream, but all their dreams cannot come true,” he said.

In sum, the BJP sees an opportunity to seize and emerge as the real challenger to the ruling TRS. It would not like to leave any stone unturned.  The BJP is working out the caste arithmetic in a highly calculative and calibrated manner – Reddy-Velama-OBC-SC-ST combine. The party is willing to encourage even disgruntled elements from within the ruling TRS to join their ranks. Thereby make deep inroads into Telangana at the cost of the TRS.

No wonder, KCRs is silent over the internal rebellion simmering within the TRS party. Though it looks as of now KCR continues to hold a firm grip over the party’s rank and file, yet its ‘cup of woes’ likely to continue till it proves otherwise, by winning local bodies polls that are likely to be held sooner than later.

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