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Message from Telangana: KCR new bahubali

The Maha Kutami (United Front) of four parties including the Congress and Telugu Desam (TDP), has been routed. It was seen a forerunner for proposed larger National Front for forthcoming parliamentary elections.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Dec 12, 2018, 03.32 PM IST
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At the regional level, KCR has vowed to take revenge against Chandra Babu Naidu of the TDP
By Prasad A Nallapati

Although the results of the five State Assembly elections are on the expected lines, the Telangana verdict is distinct in many ways. This is the first election in the state carved out of the united Andhra Pradesh. The ruling Telangana Rajya Samiti (TRS), led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, KCR to his acolytes has swept the poll bagging eighty eight of the 119 seats. Its ally, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), won another seven seats.

The Maha Kutami (United Front) of four parties including the Congress and Telugu Desam (TDP), has been routed. It was seen a forerunner for proposed larger National Front for forthcoming parliamentary elections.

What is more important than TRS performance at the hustings is the Action Plan of its leader for a national role. In his press conference after winning the elections, KCR declared in English, Telugu and Hindithat Telangana would be the path-bearer in transforming national polity. Within next ten days, he promised, to bring in a perceptible change in bringing together a “real” non-BJP and non-Congress national alliance. He would tour all over the country, along with his ally Asaduddin Owaisi, MP and leader of the AIMIM, to bring together minorities on one platform to fight for their due rights. He took objection to the Supreme Court rejecting his proposal for reservations for Muslims in employment beyond the current cap of 50 per cent reservation. He promised to take along all political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, to build a consensus for his reservation and reform policy.

At the regional level, KCR has vowed to take avengeagainst Chandra Babu Naidu of the TDP and the Chief Minister of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Naidu is the brain behind the Maha Kutami and the emergingNational Front. Although the Congress party is the big brother in the Maha Kutami contesting 93 of the 119 seats, KCR turned the electoral battle into a fight between TRS and the TDP to arouse Telangana sentiment. He cashed in old memories that Naidu had opposed formation of Telangana state and accused TDP chief of putting obstacles in implementing many of his dream projects that would benefit Telangana people.

No surprise, therefore, the TDP could win only two of the thirteen seats contested. Naidu’s rivals in Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress Party (YSR) led by Jaganmohan Reddy and Jana Sena (JS) led by celluloid hero turned full-time politician Pawan Kalyan, are ecstatic and have invited KCR to support them to defeat Naidu in the forthcoming Andhra elections that would be held along with the Lok Sabha poll.

The biggest loser at both the regional as well as national level is Naidu and his Telugu Desam party. He broke up a four-year alliance with the BJP, accusing it of not fulfilling the promises made for the development of the new state of Andhra Pradesh, which heavily lost its financial resources in the bifurcation, and began building a national alliance to defeat the BJP. The set back to his Maha Kutami experiment in Telangana undermines his credibility to herald a National Front. He added another rival in KCR, who has vowed to support opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh to defeat the TDP, whose foundations are already shaky.

The Congress Party itself may now have second thoughts in entering into an alliance with the TDP for the Andhra Pradesh elections. This is because many Congress leaders and cadres have become vocal in saying that the alliance with TDP in Telangana was fatal and they could have done better had they fought on their own.

So much so, to remain relevant on the national scene in cementing an anti-BJP alliance, Naidu must deliver a landslide victory for his party in Andhra Pradesh. This is a tall order for the 68-year-old leader particularly in the current political array in the state; it is nevertheless not an impossible feat if he plays his cards well. He could re-play “Andhra sentiment” by linking up BJP-TRS-JS-YSR Front out to destroy the state and its people. This ploy has the potential to deliver dividends as he has already worked overtime to depict Prime Minister Modi as the villain who has denied Andhra Pradesh its rightful place as a special category state.

The stage is thus set for a noisy parliamentary electionwith several regional satraps and their ambitions in full play. KCR’s wish to play a larger role at national level and his plan to bring minorities under his leadership is a Sudoku at the moment since results in the semi-final bout show that the BJP is down but not out in the Hindi heart land. Close fight the Congress faced particularly in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan show that the BJP remains a formidable force and Modi factor has not lost its sheen; the BJP-led NDA will have to puts it’seconomic act together, and deliver on its 2014 promise of job creation. Simultaneously Modi may need to look to broad base the alliance he had stitched with his Sancho Panza Amit Shah. He is likely to find a new ally in KCR and TRS, who would, of course, extricate their pound of flesh.

(The autor is president, Hyderabad-based Centre for Asia-Africa Policy Research, former Additional Secretary to Govt of India)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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