HYDERABAD – While the BJP is trying to corner him on his home turf, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is looking at a national role in what is seen as a counter-attack.
Though under pressure at home due to a likely strong anti-incumbency after two terms in power and aggressive tactics being adopted by the BJP, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief is going ballistic against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
KCR, as Rao is popularly known, is mincing no words in attacking Modi and the BJP over what he called their divisive politics, wrong policies and deliberate attempts to destroy the spirit of federalism.
In what is seen as a repeat of Modi’s old slogan of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, KCR has now come out with the slogan ‘BJP-mukt Bharat’.
While KCR has been planning a national foray since 2018, it is only during the recent months that he has stepped up his efforts.
In a letter to Prime Minister Modi last month, KCR alleged that because of lack of planning and lack of cooperative federalism, the county is passing through a most difficult phase with unprecedented problems of falling rupee values, high inflation, skyrocketing prices and increasing unemployment coupled with low economic growth.
The TRS leader has also slammed the Centre for not treating states as equal partners in collective effort to make India a strong and developed country. By raising the issues like cooperative federalism, he is trying to unite the states.
KCR also lashed out at the Centre for treating borrowings of state PSUs for their capital needs as state government borrowings. He said this has put brakes on the progress of Telangana and many other states.
A bitter critic of both BJP and Congress for failing to fulfil the aspirations of the people even after 75 years of Independence, KCR has been talking of an alternative to bring a qualitative change in the national polity and transform India into a prosperous nation to its full potential.
KCR, who has good oratory skills not just in Telugu and English but also in Hindi, is trying to project himself as a pan-India leader who can take on Modi.
On many occasions, he ridiculed the threat of some BJP leaders to use agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against him. He dared them to use the Central agencies against him saying he is not the one to be cowed down.
Though KCR has been travelling to different parts of the country and holding consultations with leaders of various parties, it is still not clear whether he plans to forge an alliance of various parties or float a national political party.
“He is making an effort (for a national foray) but it’s too early to comment,” said political observer professor K. Nageshwar, adding, “There is no colour or shape yet.”
KCR is trying to test waters with his visits to different parts of the country. He visited Punjab, Bihar and Jharkhand to distribute assistance to families of soldiers martyred in clashes with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley and also to the next of kin of farmers killed during the protest against the three farm laws of the Centre.
Agriculture and the problems faced by farmers is key on KCR’s national agenda and he is projecting the success achieved by Telangana in transformation of agriculture by executing the irrigation project Kaleshwaram, billed as the world’s largest lift irrigation project, 24-hour free electricity to farmers and investment support to farmers at the rate of Rs 10,000 per acre per year.
In what is seen as an aggressive push of this agenda, KCR has promised that if a non-BJP government comes to power at the Centre, free electricity can be supplied to farmers across the country.
He also recently hosted a meeting of farmer leaders of 26 states. The two-day meet proposed a joint forum of farmers at the national level to replicate Telangana’s success in agriculture.
The deliberations indicate that KCR has finally taken the initiative to unite farmers’ organisations from across the country to work on the alternate national agenda.
With leaders of farmers’ unions unanimously adopting a resolution urging KCR to lead a nationwide campaign to unite farmers for the struggle, the TRS leader appears set to don a national role.
The farm leaders, who were impressed with the initiatives taken by KCR’s government, requested him to lead a nationwide campaign to unite farmers right from the village level.
He called for a debate at the national level on how Telangana, a state created only eight years ago, succeeded in ensuring 24-hour round the clock electricity supply to all sectors, free and uninterrupted supply to farmers and drinking water to every household.
KCR has been trying to build a narrative around his national aspirations. He is highlighting the failures of the Modi government during last eight years and the achievements of the TRS government during the same period.
Projecting the ‘successful’ Telangana model, he is talking of replicating it.
“Why can’t the country achieve what the youngest state has achieved in a short span of time,” he asks.
KCR claimed that Telangana’s achievements came despite the discrimination it faced at the hands of the Centre.
He cites the restrictions being imposed on the state’s borrowing limit and the Centre not sanctioning even a single new project for Telangana in eight years.
KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao, who is a key Cabinet minister and also the working president of TRS, often points at Telangana’s significant contribution to the national economy and what the state is getting in return.
“For every rupee that Telangana contributes to the nation, we only get back 46 paisa,” said Rama Rao. He pointed out that Telangana gave Rs 3.65 lakh crore in form of taxes to the Centre since 2014 but the Centre gave back only Rs 1.68 lakh crore.
KTR, as the young leader is popularly known, claims that the KCR government has outperformed the Modi government by many miles. He cited a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report of October 2021, which says that Telangana, which accounts for 2.5 per cent of Indian population, is contributing 5 per cent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The TRS leader went on to say that if only the BJP states had performed on par with Telangana, India would have been a $4.6 trillion economy.
Political analyst Palvai Raghvanedra Reddy is of the view that KCR is playing a much broader national card with the hope that his Telangana model of governance will stop Modi and his model of governance.
“However, voters across Telangana, would look at what is being delivered to them from this government, and might not compare it with Modi,” he said. -IANS