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Posted at: May 21, 2018, 1:48 AM; last updated: May 21, 2018, 1:48 AM (IST)STATE OF AFFAIRS: TELANGANA

K'taka model boosts KCR's federal front ambitions

K'taka model boosts KCR's federal front ambitions
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao

Suresh Dharur

THE emergence of a regional party, not as kingmaker but the king, in neighbouring Karnataka has come as a boost for Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who has been rooting for a federal front.Ever since unveiling his plans in March last to play a key role in national politics, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) founder president has been in touch with leaders of various regional parties to impress upon them the need for forging an alternative force at the national level ahead of the 2019 polls. 

“The recent developments in Karnataka have vindicated our stance. The importance of the regional parties will gain strength in the days ahead,” TRS sources claimed.

Incidentally, KCR, as the CM is known in political circles, is among the invitees for the swearing-in ceremony of JD (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy as Karnataka CM in Bengaluru. As part of his efforts to build a federal front of regional parties, he had met JD (S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru last month in the midst of electioneering in that state.

TRS circles argue that the Karnataka developments in the run-up to government formation have virtually set the template for the General Election 2019 and could boost Opposition unity. KCR, widely seen as the architect of the Telangana statehood movement, had in March last vowed to play a key role in national politics to bring about a “qualitative change in politics and governance”. 

Though initially he spoke about forging a non-Congress,  non-BJP formation, he now appears to have softened his opposition to the Congress after holding parleys with leaders across the political spectrum.

“Nobody is untouchable. We are keeping our options open,” KCR had said recently after meeting Akhilesh Yadav in Hyderabad.   “The Karnataka model is an indication that the 2019 elections will see regional parties leading the fight against the BJP, with the Congress, at best, playing second fiddle,” a senior TRS leader said.

However, it remains to be seen how the TRS, founded in 2001 with the single-point agenda of achieving statehood for Telangana, would reconcile to the presence of Congress, even as a junior partner, in the proposed federal front. The Congress remains the principal political adversary for the TRS in Telangana, while BJP is only a marginal player. There have been allegations that KCR’s federal front idea is only aimed at indirectly benefiting the BJP-led NDA in the elections. His detractors point out that he has been meeting leaders of only those parties who are friendly with the Congress in a bid to lure them away from the UPA.

“It is just a smokescreen to indirectly strengthen the BJP ahead of the elections. On the face of it, KCR may appear to be criticising the BJP and the Congress equally, but covertly, he is a strong supporter of PM  Narendra Modi. After the Telugu Desam quit the NDA, Modi and Shah found a new friend in KCR and through him are polarising the anti-BJP and secular political parties,” Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Dr D Sravan says.

However, TRS leaders maintain that the CM has been pursuing the idea of federal front as a genuine alternative formation to give a new direction to the development agenda and to demonstrate to the world what India is truly capable of.

“For 70 years, the Congress and BJP have ruled the country. But, what have they done? India lags behind on so many fronts,” KCR had said while addressing his party’s 17th plenary recently. The federal front, he had asserted, could transform the country. Over the last two months, he has met TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, DMK president MK Stalin and Deve Gowda to discuss the contours of the new front. 

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