M D Ratna Kumar
Amid long-standing theory that Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao is ‘CM-in-waiting’, with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao waiting for an opportune moment for the coronation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sensational statement on his rejection of KCR’s succession plan may upset the designs of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s chief.
The forthcoming Telangana Assembly elections is crucial in the context of the view in certain quarters that, should KCR achieve a hat-trick, the smooth succession of his son KTR as chief minister would remain a mere formality. Sound democracy does not permit such familial succession. Even obvious political heirs of a strong ruler need to get a proper mandate from the electorate. That seems to be a tall order in Telangana now.
During the regime of Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy in the erstwhile combined state of Andhra Pradesh, MLAs belonging to families with strong political background had been inducted into the cabinet: Anam Ramanarayan Reddy (Rapur, Nellore dist), Mandali Buddha Prasad (Avanigadda, Krishna dist) and Maganti Venkateswar Rao (Denduluru, West Godavari dist ). However, they managed to win the acceptance of voters by virtue of their hard work at the field level.
As for the November 30 Telangana Assembly elections, KCR is eyeing a hat-trick. In his second stint as CM, KCR left little to imagination that he wants KTR to succeed him. However, KCR’s plans on coronation of KTR did not materialise for various reasons. The succession talk has gained traction ahead of the coming elections because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on KCR’s plans, though people knew KCR had been projecting his son as his successor. Towards this end, he strategically relegated his nephew and senior Minister T. Harish Rao, who had been working with the BRS chief since day one of the formation of TRS on 27 April 2001, when KTR was working in the United States of America. KTR returned to India only after the movement for separate Telangana state gained ground. After Harish Rao was silenced, KTR had no opposition, both within the party and in the government. KTR’s rise made it obvious that he is CM-in-waiting. Modi corroborated this at an election rally, mentioning that KCR had sought his blessings to join the National Democratic Alliance and make KTR the CM. For good measure, Modi asked the media to check out the dates when KCR had met him at New Delhi. This has created a flutter in TS political and other circles.
Although KCR is capable of steering BRS to another round of success, the succession issue has cropped up at a crucial juncture. People would do some hard thinking while lining up at the polling stations tomorrow. They need to keep in mind the prospects of KTR becoming the CM, even if they bat only for KCR. That is, those voting for the father may not go with the son. This gulf will make a huge difference for voters inclined towards BRS.
As things stand, a triangular fight may become inevitable in TS, with the BRS, Congress, and the BJP locked in pitched electoral battles. Those talking about a direct fight between the BRS and the Congress cannot wish away the influence of BJP in and around Hyderabad city and Rangareddy district. The BJP got considerable seats in 2014, of course with the alliance of TDP. This time also in TS, there may be an understanding between the two parties.
In this context, with widely differing perception of voters, BRS may be at the receiving end if it projects KTR as future CM. BRS may win the election by projecting KCR as the chief minister in the next term as well. Making KTR his successor after winning the elections is a different matter and comes with risks. In Utter Pradesh, former chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav had fought elections and made his son Akhilesh Yadav the Chief Minister immediately after the outcome. But he lost in all subsequent elections.
Alliance with the Left parties may be a plus point for the Congress party. It’s vote bank will be stronger if YS Sharmila’s YSRTP is merged with the Congress. Already the Congress has been emboldened by its smashing performance in the Karnataka polls. Should it capture power in TS too, it would pave the way for the party to control levers at the Centre.
For, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also seem to be favourably disposed towards the Congress.
All told, Modi ‘s take on ‘coronation’ plan in TS seems to have upset KCR’s long-term designs.