Thursday, November 30, 2023

Modi bares a truth, leaves BRS gasping

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Hell hath no fury like a feudalist scorned. Telangana politics over the last three years is a testimony to this fact. Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao, like a feudal lord, brooks no opposition or criticism. The high walls around Pragathi Bhavan, his official residence, the barricades stretching onto the street taking over the footpath, and the menacing security personnel who shoo away anyone coming close to the building are all designed to keep the unwashed masses – the voters who put him in power – away from his presence. Like a true feudalist, he brooks no criticism. His attempts to ban ‘Dharna Chowk’, engineering illegal defections from opposition parties, even when he had an overwhelming majority in the Assembly, and arresting opposition leaders who dared to protest his misdeeds have all earned him the epithet of ‘Dora’ – the Deccani equivalent of a feudal lord.

Over the last three years, the behaviour of CM Chandrasekhar Rao towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Governor of Telangana has been inexplicable. Though the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of the Prime Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi, the party of the Chief Minister, are political opponents in the state, the visceral antipathy CM Chandrasekhar Rao displays towards the PM and the BJP leaders is unprecedented. No other Chief Minister, however strong a critic they may be of the Prime Minister, has ever refused to extend common courtesies and follow official protocol in receiving the Prime Minister or sharing a dais with him when he visited their state. They all put their state’s interests above their egos. Not Chandrasekhar Rao.

Modi solved the mystery behind the Chief Minister’s uncouth behaviour this week. He made two bombshell-like revelations at a public meeting held this week in Nizamabad. The first one was that after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, in which the BRS, the BJP and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won around one-third of the seats each, Chandrasekhar Rao had approached Modi to have an alliance. He wanted to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which the BJP leads. The second was that around the same time, Chandrasekhar Rao had again approached the Prime Minister and asked for his support so that Rao could elevate his son and Minister Taraka Ramarao and make him the Chief Minister.

The Prime Minister revealed that he had rejected both proposals: the first one because the BRS is a dynastic and corrupt party that looted Telangana and benefited only the CM’s family, and the second one as it is the role of the voters to bless Ramarao’s elevation and not his.

It took no time for the politically literate in the state to explain the inexplicable visceral hatred the Chief Minister exhibitedhithertofore towards the Prime Minister and the BJP leaders. Rejection is too much for a person who cannot even bear criticism or opposition. For someone who is used to getting his way and thinks of himself as the foremost political genius of the country, the rejection by the Prime Minister was too much to bear. What followed was vindictiveness and unhinged behaviour – not receiving the Prime Minister when he visits the state, accusing the Governor of being an agent of the BJP, attempting to implicate BJP’s national leaders like BL Santosh in criminal cases on cooked-up charges, refusing permissions for BJP’s political activities, repeatedly arresting the BJP’s state president and so on.

Over the next day, as the BRS leaders, including the CM’s son Ramarao, lashed out at the Prime Minister, it became apparent even to sceptics that the Prime Minister had indeed spoken the truth. Neither Ramarao nor the BRS leaders outrightly rejected the statements by the Prime Minister. Instead, they argued that they did not need the support of the PM, whose party only had two MLAs at the time, to make Ramarao the CM, especially when they, with their allies, the MIM, had more than 90% of the legislators under their control. On the surface of it, the argument sounds logical. But the BRS leaders, too, know that it is not in the character of Chandrasekhar Rao to hand over the reins to his son and retire. For that reason, the BRS supremo wanted to join NDA to elevate himself as a Union Minister, leaving the CM post for his son. Alas!

The transformation of TRS – Telangana Rashtra Samiti – into a national party, the BRS, baffling his cadre, the foray into Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and his tacit support to Congress in Karnataka are driven by an urge to teach Modi, who had rejected him, a lesson. His recent attempts at shoring up Congress in our state – with which the BRS had a long and mutually beneficial relationship, foreshadow his next move: joining the I.N.D.I. Alliance before the Lok Sabha elections. The personal hurt and the resulting fury of a scorned feudalist add an even more potent reason for an overt partnership.

(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)

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