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Few takers for K Chandrashekar Rao's national ambition

About 31 years ago, NTR launched Bharat Desam with national ambitions. It failed to take off. Will KCR’s national ambitions face a similar fate?
Last Updated : 23 January 2023, 05:48 IST
Last Updated : 23 January 2023, 05:48 IST

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Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, known to his supporters as KCR, is on a mission — to ensure that a non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance becomes a kingmaker in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In line with his long-time ambition to go national, KCR, on October 5, renamed his 21-year-old Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), and held a first meeting in Khammam on January 18.

The meet was attended by three opposition Chief Ministers — Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), and Bhagwant Mann (Punjab) — apart from Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, and Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary D Raja.

National Ambitions

In 2018, soon after forming the government in Telangana for a second consecutive term, KCR wanted to float a national front/ third front to bring all the non-Congress, non-BJP parties under one platform. He continued with his efforts till early last year.

He soon realised that many political parties were unwilling to be part of his front as these were of the view that an opposition grouping without the Congress being its fulcrum would never succeed.

He had to abandon his idea and decided to form a national party with an agenda to play an important role in the formation of the next government at the Centre.

Having played ball with the BJP initially while supporting all major Bills moved by the Union government, KCR was quick to feel threatened by the saffron party’s aggressive foray into Telangana.

Apart from his home state, KCR wants to focus on Telugu-speaking areas in Maharashtra, and Karnataka. He has already announced the setting up of the first unit of the BRS outside Telangana, in Maharashtra.

In North India and other parts of the country, he is looking at alliances with regional leaders such as Yadav and Kejriwal. In the East, he is trying to rope in West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

In Karnataka, KCR might forge an alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) whose leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was present at the TRS rechristening ceremony in Hyderabad.

However, it is said that Kumaraswamy was a few months ago hobnobbing with the BJP for an alliance in Karnataka. But he was told that the BJP will consider any tie-up with the JD(S) only after the 2023 assembly elections.

Telangana Focus

Top opposition leaders such as Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and few other regional leaders are of the view that no anti-BJP grouping would be successful unless the Congress is taken on board. They cite the past experiments to make their point.

KCR is quite confident of coming back to power for a third term in the upcoming assembly elections in Telangana, due in November-December.

There is a possibility that he might dissolve the assembly six months ahead of schedule to cash in on the success of his welfare schemes. He also seeks to expand his party's footprints in other states by pitching his Telangana good governance model that is based on those welfare programmes.

Some of the major schemes being implemented in the state include ‘Rythu Bandhu’, which provides initial investment needs to every farmer; ‘Dalit Bandhu’ under which a one-time financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh is provided to every Scheduled Caste family to set up an income-generating business unit; ‘KCR Kit', a Rs 12,000 aid for a pregnant woman to take care of herself and the new-born child; among others.

But KCR's move to go national has apparently irked political strategist Prashant Kishor whose Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) is handling the election strategy and campaign of the TRS for the 2023 assembly polls in Telangana. I-PAC wants to renegotiate the deal that was signed specifically for Telangana. It is also said that Kishor is not supportive of KCR's plunge into national politics. He feels that the TRS should consolidate its base further in Telangana, especially when the BJP is aggressively making inroads in the state.

The Bharat Desam Way?

It remains to be seen if KCR's BRS will go the way NTR's Bharat Desam did.

It was in December 1991 that Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao (NTR) stunned everyone with his announcement to launch a national party, the Bharat Desam.

The move had surprised his friends and foes alike as it was meant to replace the national front, a grouping that was his brainchild and of which he was the main architect.

Perhaps NTR was unhappy with the performance of the front that he had formed in 1988 to bring all the opposition parties together against the Congress, akin to Jayaprakash Narayan move in 1977. Apart from the TDP, the national front comprised the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

Five years later, on January 18, 1996, NTR died of a heart attack, and the Bharat Desam remained a pipedream. About 31 years later, another Telugu leader is treading the same path.

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi is a senior journalist, currently associated with Pixstory.

The views expressed are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

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Published 23 January 2023, 05:44 IST

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