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KCR banking on uncertain verdict

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. (PTI)

When Telangana Chief Minister and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, in a dramatic move, flew to Thiruvananthapuram and called on Kerala Chief Minister and CPM veteran Pinarayi Vijayan to canvass support for his federal front idea in the middle of Lok Sabha elections, it was clear that he was trying to catapult himself into the national frame.

KCR was trying to do in a post-poll scenario what his Andhra Pradesh rival N Chandrababu Naidu tried to do pre-poll — emerge if not the king, then at least the kingmaker after May 23, the day India will learn how well a potential Third, or Federal, Front has fared in the elections.

The TRS boss plans to visit several other regional leaders in the run-up to Judgement Day. Before leaving Hyderabad, he also had a telephonic conversation with Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy from the Janata Dal (Secular). Besides the two CMs, he also had plans to meet DMK’s M K Stalin in Chennai, an idea Stalin may initially be cool towards given his alliance with the Congress, but which may become more appealing if he expects the Congress to underwhelm at the hustings again.

Expect KCR to meet Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. As potential convenor of the Third Front, Rao is on a stronger wicket than his old bete noire Naidu because he is expected to perform strongly in his state while Naidu will have to stave off a stiff challenge from Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra. Jagan could also be a potential partner for KCR.

All this reflects the fact that a bunch of chief ministers sniff a chance at power after May 23. Never mind that two phases of polls are still left and the BJP top brass is going to town claiming it will get a bigger mandate than 2014.

Regional parties believe that BJP will fall short and Congress will not get enough seats to claim a leadership role. This then gives them a chance to re-enact 1996, when H D Deve Gowda had become Prime Minister with outside support of Congress. It remains to be seen whether the ambitious and hard-driven KCR emerges as the Gowda of 2019.

Senior journalist and political analyst Kay Benedict said KCR is doing all this primarily to prevent the Congress from coming to power and also to fulfil his personal ambition and cited how the Telangana Chief Minister in his meeting with Vijayan proposed a Prime Minister “preferably from south India”.

“This entire exercise is futile. Federal Front parties will not get more than 100 seats. KCR’s entire family is in politics and he feels that his son and daughter can take care of the party in the state. So, he is pitching for a national role for himself,” Benedict said.

He argued that if a regional party’s government comes to power, KCR will definitely land a plum post, if not prime ministership. “But there are inner contradictions. He had met Pinarayi Vijayan to broach this subject. But will the Kerala Chief Minister agree to Mamata Banerjee as PM candidate?” said Benedict

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