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KCR's new-found love

KCRs new-found love

In less than two months, Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi twice. In the first meeting in June, he is reported to have briefed the Prime Minister the issues on which he wanted the support of the Centre. He also raised a demand for a number of development projects for the state. In the second meeting on August 4, he again put up a long list of demands before the Prime Minister. Among the major demands included the release of central grant of Rs 20,000 crores for Kaleshwaram Project being built on Godavari river. The total cost of the project if Rs 80,000 crore. But more significantly, the buzz is that he discussed the prospects of BJP and TRS contesting the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state as a coalition. The two leaders have reportedly agreed to chalk out a post-poll alliance if a pre-poll alliance is not feasible. In the current Assembly, TRS has 63 seats, Congress 22 and BJP 9 in a house of 119 members. There are 17 Lok Sabha seats from the state. If there is any truth in the rumours doing the round that TRS is getting closer to BJP and TRS may support BJP in the post-poll scenario when BJP may be scouting for support from smaller and regional parties. For TRS, this would be a major shift from its earlier stand of forging an alliance of regional parties on the national level to prop up a non-BJP, non-Congress federal front. The TRS leader had created a high-decibel buzz at the national level by proposing the formation of the federal front. Immediately after he articulated his desire to create a third front, he received messages of support from many opposition leaders strong in their region. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief was first to call him up and lend her support to his efforts to unite regional parties. He also received similar feedback from Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati among others. KCR had also proposed an alliance of regional parties in southern states including the CPI-M which is in power in Kerala to stop BJP from making fresh inroads in the electoral politics of southern states. But even as the opposition parties moved forward with their unification drive, KCR gradually lost interest in the federal front that he initially proposed to form and lead. Making a complete turnaround, KCR is now reportedly ready to be part of the BJP strategy to take on the same opposition that he once vowed to strengthen.

The compulsions for this change in stance are many. As the elections draw closer, KCR finds that many of the promises he made during the last election are far from fulfilled. He also discovers that in order to keep the promises he made to his voters, he needs active support of the Centre. From funding various development initiative to securing central government projects, he has to depend on the Modi government. If he does not act fast and make some credible moves on his promises quickly, the voters are likely to punish him in the elections. Since he came to power in 2014, nearly 3,000 farmers have committed suicide in the state. His cup of woes is full and he needs some urgent help to overcome the odds that he faces at his home turf. Working for opposition's unit and hoping to oust BJP from power at the Centre can be a good idea but that will not help him in his state. Rather, it may backfire and people might vote for Congress and BJP in the upcoming elections, leaving TRS in the lurch. So, the TRS Chief has changed his strategy and is eying to keep his options open to tie up with BJP in a post-poll scenario where he might need the support of other parties to remain in power. For the same reason, BJP has a point in keeping its options open for an alliance with TRS, whose support may be needed after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After losing Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the BJP-led NDA is on the lookout for new entities under its fold. As the common perception goes, BJP may not win as many seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as it did in the last election. The anti-incumbency factor and a united opposition determined to dislodge the party from power form the background of the Lok Sabha elections this time around. This is a drastically different scenario compared to the last election when BJP rode a massive anti-incumbency wave against the UPA government.

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