Monday, February 26, 2024

Kishore Poreddy Column: BRS-Congress con is bound to fail

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After this Tuesday’s separate meeting of two political groupings – one led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the other, a coalition centred around the Indian National Congress (INC), the battle lines for the 2024 General Election are now clear. Or so everyone concluded. Thirty-eight parties, led by the BJP, met under the banner of the twenty-five-year-old National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In contrast, twenty-six parties came together to form the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) centred around the Congress party. Interestingly, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), led by Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), was nowhere to be seen.

KCR had been travelling around the country and meeting various regional political parties to stitch a non-BJP, non-Congress coalition for the past few years. Today he and his party seem to be standing in isolation on the national scene, along with their lone ally, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). At least, that is the perception KCR wants to cultivate in the minds of Telangana voters.

But is that really the case? Or is it just a strategy to convince the voters of Telangana that he’s fighting the Congress? Let us examine the facts.

All political parties KCR had approached over the past few years to stitch a non-Congress, non-BJP front are now part of the Congress-led INDIA grouping. Be it the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or the Samajwadi Party, whose leaders attended and spoke from the dais at the BRS party’s launch sabha in Khammam, every one of them is a leading member of the INDIA grouping. Every other leader he conferred with over the last few years, including Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Stalin of the Dravida MunnetraKazhagam too, decided to be part of the INDIA coalition led by the Congress.

Biju Janata Dal from Odisha, the Shiromani Akali Dal after its exit from the NDA, YSR Congress and Telugu Desam Party from Andhra Pradesh, and a few others remain independent and joined neither the NDA nor the INDIA grouping. It is illuminating that these parties, which would be the natural choices for a third grouping, are the ones that KCR has never confabulated with to push his idea of a non-BJP non-Congress Front. This was no surprise for those who understood KCR and his political strategies.

Looking back at what happened after the 2014 and 2018 Assembly elections, KCR’s strategy becomes clear. The TRS and Congress fought, claiming to be opponents in both these elections. But once the results were out, many MLAs who won on the Congress ticket joined KCR’s party. Votes for the Congress turned out to be seats for the TRS party. A complementary trend is also evident. While the winning Congress MLAs joined the BRS, the candidates who had fought on the BRS ticket and lost moved to Congress.

It is this favourable arrangement that the BRS supremo wants to preserve to win a third time – the BRS and its friendly Congress party to occupy both the incumbent and the alternative positions in the state and keep the real opposition – the Bharatiya Janata Party, from rising to be the alternative to BRS. He knows that he can deal with the nationally weakened Congress before or after the polls on his terms, depending on the need, to form the government. Both parties fought elections together earlier and even went to the verge of merging. On the other hand, if the BJP is allowed to occupy the alternative space, no such possibility exists.

Since 2019, the voters of Telangana have rejected the Congress and voted for the BJP in every election. Be it the Assembly by-polls, the Legislative Council elections, or even the Municipal Corporation elections like the GHMC, the voters have rejected the Congress. Either the BJP or the BRS won in all those elections, clearly showing that the voters no longer believed Congress to be the alternative to the BRS but the BJP.

KCR, understanding the changing mood of the Telangana voters and to fool the voters for a third time, mooted the idea of a third front at the national level, knowing very well from the very first day that most, if not all, the parties that he has approached will eventually join the Congress grouping. From the beginning, he also knew that any front without the Congress has no fighting chance against the BJP-led NDA.

Despite all this, he continued with his charade, hoping to dupe the Telangana voters for a third time.

Fortunately, the Telangana voters have caught on to the BRS-Congress game.
Though both BRS and Congress have tried to use the Congress’s win in recent Karnataka Assembly elections as an opportunity to project the Congress again as the alternative to BRS, the voters, aware of their shenanigans, are not ready to be deceived again.

(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)

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