Early polls – What’s up KCR sleeves?


(MS Shanker)

What could be the reason behind the new Telangana state Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao’s decision to go for early polls?  Is he scared of Modi-factor? Or willing to challenge the entire Opposition parties in the new state, including the Congress, which sees an outside chance to come back to power, especially after the recent visit of its President Rahul Gandhi?

Sources close to KCR and his media advisors claim that KCR has not taken any decision over advancing polls, but boasts of winning hands down, if opt to for early polls.  One of his aide had also went to the extent to claim in an article published under his name in a Delhi-based paper that the Election Commission will not dare say no, if Telangana CM seeks to hold early elections with four other states who goes for polls in November/December?

What does it mean?  A challenge not only thrown at Opposition within the state, but also to the EC over his decision!  One has to wait and see what happens next!!

Meanwhile, if one look at the reason behind KCR’s move, in spite of some dissent within his Cabinet as well party cadre, it’s clear that he would not like to take risk to wait till his full term completes and go for polls along with Lok Sabha in April/May next year.  However, his party and loyalists may boast of the government’s good governance, yet some surveys conducted by his own party clearly indicate of anti-incumbency creeping in.  Especially, growing anger against the family rule that KCR would like to concretize in new state.  Any further delay before that anti-incumbency further fructifies KCR, a shrewd politician doesn’t like to take any risks.

Moreover, KCR, who wishes to handover the baton to his son and minister K T Rama Rao, by helping his party win another term, is also the factor that worrying him what if he loses in 2019 polls?

Hence, by hook or crook, he would like to complete the task he set for himself.  That’s to make his son next Chief Minister?

So, what are the options before him?

Either strengthen the Opposition unity against the Modi and BJP? Or join hands with the BJP?

He tried to explore the first option and failed.  Yes, by creating a hype about cobbling of regional parties to form a formidable Federal Front to declare a war to prevent both the nationalist parties or its allies like BJP and Congress preventing to capture power at the Centre this time around.  As part of that exercise, he met rushed to West Bengal and met Mamata Banerjee of Trinamul Congress, to Chennai and met late DMK supremo and late Karunanidhi and his son M K Stalin, besides to Bengaluru to discuss his proposal to former PM and chief of JD (U) led by Deve Gowda and his son Kumara Swamy.

But, none of those who met appears to have taken his proposal seriously as these leaders who assembly at the swearing ceremony of Kumaraswamy as CM of Karnataka where the JD (U) join hands with the Congress.  Taken aback with that development, KCR appears to have realized his mistake to take on Modi and BJP, who are riding high, as of now across the country.  This was after weighing between the corrupt Congress and the BJP. He is aware of the way Congress was thrown out of power at the Centre by people across the country in 2014 general elections and also later in the assembly polls that followed.

Had he opts BJP and Sangh parivar lesser evil than the Congress and other regional satraps, who depend much on the Congress, knowing well of its past track record?

As a result, he chose to move closer to BJP with utmost caution. Knowing well, any of his party’s move towards the BJP will jeoparadise his Muslim vote bank and as well spoil sport of his party returning to power.  Hence, it would be better for him and his party to advance the poll, get the BJP’s nod discreetly with a pre-condition that he would come in open to support BJP in general elections.  Such an agreement will help ‘win-win’ situation for both TRS and BJP.  Even, if he dumps MIM after assembly polls, his 30-35 per cent solid vote bank can help BJP win maximum number of Lok Sabha seats.

Sources close to KCR and BJP confirm that the BJP would like to compensate the loss that it may suffer in the north in next LS polls in South by arriving at reaching out an understanding with TRS in Telangana, YSRCP in AP, JD (S) in Karnataka and AIADMK or Rajnikant’s new party in TN.  It plans to win at least 10-15 LS seats from the South, which may try and offset the losses in UP and Rajasthan.

What if the BJP refuses to trust KCR and goes back on its assurance not to put spokes if the EC chose to not to conduct elections to Telangana, if dissolved?  He apparently got a clarity over the possible understanding he reached with the PM and fear of ‘going back’ will not happen.  If one has to believe BJP sources, the PM indeed  expressed their fears what if he (TRS) go back as in case of Cong after a firm assurance for separate statehood with the Congress, before the bifurcation?  To which, KCR tried to justify saying that he can trust BJP more than Cong as the latter never ever allowed a strong man to exist in power in any of their party ruled states. “I am clear on that count,” KCR had told Modi and the latter convinced.

For better clarity, Modi had advised KCR to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who had sought clarifications over the allegations of corruption against his government, especially in Irrigation projects.  Also his family members accused of graft cases.  Both had ‘open heart’ discussion and a convinced KCR returned to state capital only to execute his ‘road map’ to pave way for polls.

What next?: Although, KCR and his party men are riding high on some internal surveys giving a clear lead to the party, yet the Congress appears more than confident of an outside chance, if they put in great effort, overcoming internal bickering as well enter into new strategic allies to bounce back to power. Political analysts claim that the depleted TDP in Telangana willing to strike a deal with the Congress to defeat TRS in the upcoming assembly polls.

If both the parties join hands and may rope in another formidable force, though not tested yet its political abilities, of Prof Kodandaram, may form a formidable combination to challenge the might of KCR.  BJP, on the other hand, may as well not concentrate on much with the leadership accepting to enter into a secret deal with KCR.  The ‘deal’ as mentioned above is ‘you support me in assembly’ and ‘I support you in Parliament’ that struck between none other than the Prime Minister and BJP’s iconic leader as well ‘poll trump card’ Narendra Modi.

BJP Party Chief Amit Shah, who boasted of spending his energies to turn tables on TRS and TDP in both the Telugu states, may for time being pull back as he may have to spare to ensure party returning to power in other states, especially Rajasthan, where it is facing a stiff challenge from the Congress for the first time.

KCR against who?: In absence any formidable leader against KCR in the Opposition ranks, TRS cadre is convinced with their leader’s argument that early polls bound to prove beneficial to them than the scheduled in April/May next year.  Well, the TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu may join the campaign with Rahul to support the Cong-TDP alliance, but may not have adverse effect on KCR ‘s TRS returning to power.

Options before KCR: If he could ensure party’s victory, then KCR may as well take a call to join the NDA ahead of polls as part of fulfilling his promise made to Modi.  Even if he loses the ‘Muslim vote bank’, the Hindutva BJP and Modi effect may help them win good number of LS seats amongst themselves.  If the BJP-led NDA wins 2019 elections, then KCR may as well handover the ‘baton’ to his son and fulfill his dream to see his scion in the CM’s gaddi and move to Centre and join Modi’s future cabinet.

What if BJP-led NDA loses?:  KCR always had the option to dump BJP as did by N Chandrababu Naidu and his TDP in the past and express regrets.  Explore the possibility to join the non-BJP forces to cobble to stake claim to form next government at the Centre with his double digit LS strength.

Thus far, the script laid out by KCR looks perfect as it appears ‘win…win’ kind of situations either way!