Monday, July 22, 2024

Ratna Column : KCR and Jagan cozying up to benefit from early polls?

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Are leaders of the ruling parties in the Telugu states cozying up to benefit from the distinct possibility of early polls? Going by the intense spadework being done by AP Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy and TS Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, it appears that they are bent upon retaining power against all odds. The Chief Ministers of Telugu states appear to be evenly placed when it comes to tackling the odds to retain power, and, should they win, are poised to set a record of sorts at the national level.

Should KCR pull off a hat-trick, it would do a lot of good for him in the present situation; for, his main political opponents viz. the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are making all-out efforts to dislodge him from power. People are aware of the fact that both Congress and BJP have been credited for bringing the bill required for the creation of Telangana. The then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Congress party had set aside the stiff resistance shown by many people in Andhra & Rayalaseema regions to fulfill the promise it had made for the people of Telangana.

BJP also met the same fate in the case of Telangana as it had strongly supported the related bill in Parliament. BJP had actively participated in the 2014 poll campaign by stating that it was equally responsible for the formation of Telangana State. BJP specially mentioned the role played by its leader Sushma Swaraj in Parliament for the passage of related bill and described her as ‘Chinnamma’, thus drawing a comparison with ‘Peddamma’ (Sonia Gandhi, who is credited for fulfilling the people’s dream of Telangana).

Prior to the introduction of Telangana Bill in Parliament, KCR uttered a few words on the possibility of the new state while boarding a flight for Delhi. He observed that he would be leaving for Delhi from unified state of Andhra Pradesh to achieve his goal of Telangana and that he would land only in the new state of Telangana within days! Many people did not take those words of KCR seriously, but things turned in favour of Telangana. Elections were held in unified state of Andhra Pradesh and then separate legislative assemblies formed with the elected members from both the regions.

In fact, the Assembly of the combined state of Andhra Pradesh should have had a special sitting first and then gone for division.As per established procedure, the division must have taken place in the undivided House itself on the lines of bills relating to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (later became Uttarakhand) in the year 2000.

The Assemblies of the parent states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and UP respectively had followed the procedure then. Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who had played a significant role in the formation of Telangana, was the chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

KCR had the last laugh at the hustings in 2014 as people considered him a warrior who had sincerely fought for Telangana. KCR retained power in the 2018 elections.The situation in which Congress joined Telegu Desam Party (TDP) had come in handy for KCR to campaign about possible Andhra rule in Telangana with the alliance of Congress and TDP.

Now KCR has created a peculiar situation by transforming his Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) into Bharat Rastra Samiti (BRS) with the idea expanding his political base at the national level. Now he has to implement differing strategies to emerge successfully in the elections of 2023. So, he might be of the view that early polls would come to his rescue. Of course, he has to weather public wrath for pushing the state into a debt trap.

In the present situation, expansion of BRS in Andhra Pradesh might be useful for KCR to exercise better control over his own state. After all, it was KCR had who helped YS Jaganmohan Reddy in AP by deciding to give ‘return gift’ to N. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP. Political bigwigs with business empires were ‘closely monitored’ by TRS leadership with the purpose of making them candidates of YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP, irrespective of their individual likes and dislikes. It’s Lok Sabha members Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (Ongole) and Adala Prabhakar Reddy (Nellore) are best examples. Interestingly, the predominant Kapu community has been chosen by KCR to give the task of steering BRS.

This may help Jagan scuttle unity efforts within the Kapu community at a time when efforts are being made to build a united opposition with the active participation of TDP and Jana Sena Pary (JSP). In turn, the powerful Reddy community, particularly from Rayalaseema, might rally behind KCR possibly with support from Jagan.

It may be recalled that the entire Reddy community in Hyderabad had played a crucial role in the defeat of then Congress Legislature Party (CLP) P. Janardhan Reddy in the Khairatabad Assembly constituency in the 1999 elections.TDP candidate K.Vijayarama Rao, former director of CBI, had emerged victorious, becoming famous as a ‘giant killer’! Mutual cooperation between KCR and Jaganmohan Reddy is on the cards amid signs that both leaders want early polls.

Although KCR had benefited from the early polls of 2018, NT Rama Rao and Chandrababu Naidu had suffered humiliating defeats in the early polls of 1989 and 2004 respectively. So, early polls can work both ways.

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