How KCR went from 'shutting shop' to 'getting invites'

20 years of TRS: KCR's journey from 'lets shut shop' to 'receiving invites to form party in Andhra'

The party, which was staring at extinction, saw a revival after then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's untimely death in 2009

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. Credit: PTI file photo

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was unanimously reelected as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party president on Monday.

KCR's election to the top post, for the 10th consecutive time with no contest, comes as no surprise in the party which was formed by him two decades back and continues to be steered now with a more steely grip.

“TRS was formed in those days of mistrust in Telangana movement, with the initial objective of gaining people's confidence. As united Andhra leaders created hurdles, we soldiered on with same perseverance,” KCR said at the party's plenary, recalling the hot summer day in April 2001 when the “statehood agitation party” was unveiled in Hyderabad.

Except the support of Telangana ideologues, KCR was almost alone politically at TRS's launch. His party formation was seen more as a disgruntled move after then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu denied him a cabinet berth.

Interesting to note, several of KCR cabinet colleagues now, who occupied chairs alongside him on the plenary dais, are those who had ridiculed, opposed or at least disbelieved that Telangana statehood could be a reality.

But the state did form in June 2014, after a protracted struggle and several ups and downs for KCR electorally. In the preceding 13 years, TRS fought several elections, sometime aligning with the Congress (2004) and onetime with the TDP (2009). He was part of the UPA-1 government at the centre and the TRS MLAs joined the Congress's in the state but exited in the middle, as there was no movement on the assurance to create Telangana.

Its lowest point was in the 2009 AP assembly and Lok Sabha elections, when TRS was reduced to two Lok Sabha seats from five and 10 MLAs from 26.

"Maybe we should shut shop now,” KCR remarked as the results were coming in.

The party, which was staring at extinction, saw a revival after then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's untimely death in a chopper crash in September 2009.

With the “principal opposing force to Telangana” gone, KCR renewed the statehood agitation with his fast unto death forcing the UPA-II government to announce steps towards Telangana formation in December 2009.

Telangana became a reality five years later, with KCR leading the state as its chief minister.

Since the state's creation, TRS evolved into what political pundits say is a pucca political party, encouraging defections of legislators from the Congress, TDP and consolidating its position in the assembly making the opposition virtually absent.

The TRS which has retained power in 2018 with improved strength in the assembly is however facing the challenge of BJP's growing influence in the state. The saffron party, whose strength fell from five MLAs in 2014 to one in 2018, wrested Dubbaka from the TRS last year and is making the ruling party leaders sweat in the Huzurabad bye-polls scheduled on 30 October.

KCR, however, looked unperturbed and used the plenary venue instead to take a swipe at “Andhra leaders.”

"They said it will be anarchy if Telangana is created. But now we are leaping ahead on all developmental fronts like producing paddy in quantities even the FCI could not purchase. Such are our welfare schemes that I am receiving requests from Andhra people to form a party there,” KCR claimed as party cadres, leaders cheered on.

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