Today certain crucial questions are nagging the cadre and leaders of the Bharat Rashtra Samiti. They include: Why was KCR forced to shift his national party’s launch meeting to Khammam from the national capital New Delhi? Why did national leaders stay away from party’s launch meeting? Why did KCR fear announcing the BRS party’s agenda? Why did the guests speak on issues that expose KCR to ridicule?
Of course, KCR, accused of making self-contradictory statements, impulsive decisions and off-the-cuff announcements, had no choice but to shift the venue of his new national party’s launch meeting to a location in Telangana, where his party is in power, and thus in a position to mobilise crowds. It is evident that the tepid response from national leaders to the BRS party’s office inaugural in New Delhi last December has set the alarm bells ringing for the newly minted ‘Desh ki neta’.
Although KCR made a grand show of the meeting non-BJP, non-Congress leaders in the recent past, like Udhhav Thackeray (then Shiv Sena chief) and Sharad Pawar (NCP) from Maharashtra, Deve Gowda and his son Kumaraswamy (JDS) from Karnataka, Stalin (DMK) from Tamil Nadu, Nitish Kumar (JDU) and Tejaswi Yadav (RJD) from Bihar, and those with whom KCR projected bonhomie, like, Mamata Banerjee (TMC) from West Bengal, Naveen Patnaik (BJD) from Odisha, Jaganmohan Reddy (YSRCP) from Andhra, and many more leaders from across the country, none of them made it to the grand public meeting in Khammam. Even the one recognisable farmer leader from the north, Rakesh Tikait, was conspicuously absent. The surprising absentee was AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, KCR’s political siamese twin in Telangana.
The only notable leaders who made it to the event were Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, leaders of Communist parties, CPI & CPM – ‘thoka parties’ (tail parties) in KCR’s words – who are in alliance with BRS in Telangana, and two CMs of AAP – whose party leaders, along with KCR’s daughter, Kavitha, are alleged to be involved in the ‘Delhi liquor scam’.
Desh ki neta’s strength was in full display at Khammam! Even more intriguing and significant were the speeches delivered by the few ‘national’ leaders who attended the meeting. Though their addresses were critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, reading between the lines, it becomes clear that they were even more scathing of KCR and his politics.
While the Communist leaders, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan (CPM) and the CPI general secretary D. Raja, warned of dangers to parliamentary democracy, it appeared they were chiding KCR. KCR has eliminated all opposition from the legislative bodies of Telangana by poaching their MLAs and MLCs (except those from AIMIM). CPI too was a victim of KCR’s machinations. D. Ravindra Naik, lone CPI MLA in Telangana’s first Assembly, was poached by KCR. In the few cases he failed, KCR expelled opposition MLAs from the Assembly, session after session.
The message became even more in the face when Vijayan warned strongly against attempts to change the fundamental structure of the Constitution. Certainly, Vijayan knew KCR’s comments about drafting a completely new one. The Communists attended the Khammam meeting out of a ‘historical necessity’: their own parties’ survival in Telangana.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann from the AAP talked about “jhumlas” and how the BJP and Modi were full of them. One was immediately reminded of the two-bedroom houses; three acres for Dalits, Dalit CM, KG 2 PG free education and a hundred other “jhumlas” of KCR. When he mentioned that the government was selling everything, was he telling KCR we know about you selling even the primordial resource: land?
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, who termed KCR his elder brother, stressed putting aside egos and learning from each other. He went on to explain how Stalin had come to Delhi, learnt about the education reforms he implemented in Delhi, and went back and improved the education system in Tamil Nadu. After learning from Delhi’s Mohalla Clinics, Kejriwal said Telangana had implemented Basti Dawakhanas. His concession to KCR on implementing ‘Kanti Velugu’ in Delhi notwithstanding, the message was loud and clear. Kejriwal, the founder of AAP – a party that’s in power in two states and just a formality away from becoming a “recognised” national party – should be treated as the elder brother in national politics and KCR, known for putting ego above protocol even with the country’s PM, better not play the same “my way or highway” politics with him and his party.
Samajwadi party supremo Akhilesh Yadav had his message: anyone wanting to become a ‘Desh ki neta’ needs to be accepted by Uttar Pradesh, including Modi. His hint to KCR was obvious.
No wonder KCR was afraid to declare his party’s national agenda. By the time it was his turn to speak, KCR had realised there were no takers for his ‘national agenda’ – even among those on the stage.
(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)