(M S Shanker)
The ongoing political slugfest between the two ‘Chandra’s’ – Telangana Chief Minister, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao (popularly known as KCR) and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandra Babu Naidu (NCN) – is spreading more confusion than lending clarity to pre poll political alignments for Lok Sabha 2019 elections.
KCR has been pursuing the “Federal Front” as the ‘Third Political Force’ based on anti BJP and Congress Party alternative focused on promoting “True Federal System of Governance” even before NCN forged ‘Praja Kutami” as a pre-poll alliance in Telangana between the Congress Party, the Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Jana Shakti and the CPI and the so called “Mahaghatabandhan” at the national level with the sole aim of resting power from Modi-led NDA alliance.
After returning to power with a bang, winning 89 of the 119 seats, KCR chose to pursue his ‘mission Federal Front’ with a month-long schedule to meet national leaders, appears to have kept his moves on hold temporarily. And, KCR is hopeful of winning 16 MP seats with AIMIM winning one MP seat. Hence, KCR hopes to play a key role in the New Delhi politics.
KCR latest attempt to promote the “Federal Front” thereby project himself to the centre-stage of Indian politics seems to be on hold in the wake of the Odisha and West Bengal Chief Ministers, Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee, muted responses.
The TRS Secretary-General Dr K Keshav Rao has scotched rumors that KCR had given up his ‘mission Federal Front.’ “His recent meetings with either Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik or West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee were only preliminary and they promised to get in touch over the KCR proposed non-Cong and non-BJP ‘Federal Front’,” he argues with a counter question; “How can anyone ignore the response from Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav?
Dr Keshav Rao stated that Mayawati, who almost decided to fight LS polls in UP in alliance along with Akhilesh Yadav’s SP, are sure to join the Federal Front as its sole purpose is to strengthen the regional parties to fight with the Centre for their ‘fair share’ under the Federal structure of our democratic functioning. He is optimistic that other regional parties, including Mamata Banerjee Trinamool Congress and others would join the Front sooner than later.
After meeting Modi at New Delhi at the end of his first-leg of his latest venture, KCR returned to Hyderabad and hurled choicest abuses at his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Nara Chandrababu Naidu in his press conference.
In contrast, NCN and the TDP are facing anti incumbency in Andhra Pradesh particularly due to rampant corruption and the phenomenal delay in shifting to the new capital, that is, Amravati. His rivals, Jaganmohan Reddy of YSRCP and Pawan Kalyan of Jana Sena have been on the roll what with “Pada Yatra’ and “Rath Yatra” mobilizing support to their respective parties. So, the electoral outcome in 2019 elections is quite uncertain for NCN led TDP. Thus, NCN has taken the lead to forge alliance with the Congress Party and his initiative favoring Mahaghatabandhan.
Furthermore, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President, Uttam Kumar Reddy, says ‘KCR’s recent outbursts clearly indicate his frustration over lukewarm response he received from various regional satraps. “How can anyone form the government at the Centre without the support of either of the two national parties – Congress or BJP?” he wonders.
He dubs KCR’s grandeur plans of Federal Front was the ‘idea’ of shrewd BJP Chief Amit Shah and Narendra Modi, to weaken the non-BJP parties coalition – Mahaghatabandhan – efforts to throw out the communal BJP government at the Centre, which is bent upon ‘dividing the nation on caste, creed and religion’, besides destroying all Constitutional institutions like CBI, ED, Election Commission and judiciary. He cites the example of how the EC played dirty in the recent assembly polls and also admitted ‘apology’ for removing 22 lakh votes from the voters list.
The same view is held by NCN’s TDP colleagues too in spite of the failure of ‘Praja Kutami’ experiment in the recent assembly elections in Telangana. Says senior TDP leader Gorantla Butchaiah Choudhary; “It’s not true that the ‘Praja Kutami’ has failed in T-polls, but it was due to success of KCR’s manipulations to rig polls.” He alleges that the Election Commission has failed to conduct the polls in ‘free and fair’ manner. “Do one needs more proof than the EC Commission state chief himself admitting over missing 22 lakh votes?” he asks. Apart from that he also alleged tampering of EVMs. To support his argument he cites the example of discrepancies in ‘totals tallying’ by various agencies engaged in conducting polls as well the reports over what is being proved in Khairatabad assembly constituency results.
Not to lag behind to take on KCR is his erstwhile lieutenant during the ‘separate state movement’ Prof K Kodandaram. “KCR’s Federal Front has no takers. Who will join him? He appears to be a day-dreamer. Well, he might have succeeded winning the polls for the second time by indulging in dubious means. But, his Federal Front is a ‘bogey’ and forms part of BJP’s strategy to checkmate non-BJP parties coming together to fight Modi.”
“In fact, KCR has surrendered to Modi as his family members are involved in large-scale corruption.”
Prof Kodandaram also justifies the AP Chief Minister NCN calling KCR’s Federal Front as ‘B’ Team of BJP or National Front.
But, these allegations of opposition members were countered strongly by KCR confidants like Palle Rajeshwar Reddy. He wonders can the TDP win another election in AP without an alliance. “Had it not gone into alliance with the BJP, it would have lost the 2014 polls itself and Naidu and his TDP would have been consigned to dust bin of history.
For remaining relevant and ensure personal survival, NCN has disassociated with the NDA and severed relations with Modi. NCN blames Modi for refusal to accord ‘Special Status’ as promised by the earlier UPA-II government. Hence, NCN justifies burying TDPs ideological differences with the Congress and chose to align with Rahul Gandhi.”
“What they got from people of Telangana, Naidu and his TDP is going to get from our Telugu brothers in AP too, even if they fight polls along with the Congress,” predicts Rajeshwar Reddy, in confirmation of his party chief KCR, who declared that TDP and Cong will be even wiped out from Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections.
KCR and his son KTR, who has been made party’s working president, have declared to campaign to ensure TDP-Cong alliance in Andhra Pradesh.
Though, it looks KCR seems to have put his ‘Mission Federal Front” on the backburner, sources close to him claim he will renew his mission after the formalities for cabinet swearing is over after the Panchayat polls scheduled this month end. “KCR is not a defeatist. People of Telangana are well aware of it. He might have opted to concentrate on completing unfulfilled promises of 2014 poll promises like completion of all major irrigation projects by March, will never ever give up his fight to form Federal Front.”
In sum, the clash between the two Telugu political heavy weights is all set to unfold acrimoniously in days ahead. Both are charismatic in their own ways and will operate based on deceit, deception, deflection and distraction spreading confusion among the gullible people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
In the fight between the two astute political stalwarts, KCR is well positioned what with the TRS in power in Telangana for the next 5-years. Whereas, NCN political future depends on poll outcomes whose chances appear remote given the strident campaigning by his two rivals.