Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president, K. Chandrasekhar Rao has been accused of doing caste-based discrimination after he stopped short of touching the feel of President Ram Nath Kovind, when he received the Dalit head of state in Hyderabad on 19 December. KCR always touched the feet of former President Pranab Mukherjee, and hence, his departure from his past courtesy has attracted protests and jeering from the Dalit students of Osmania University. Many Dalit students’ organisations have objected to the different courtesies shown by KCR to Mukherjee and Kovind. Some students burnt the effigies of the CM and ridiculed him on social media.
KCR touching the feet of Mukherjee at the airport and at ceremonial functions in Hyderabad was common and is etched in people’s memories. KCR specially invited Mukherjee when he conducted the “Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagnam” at his farmhouse near Hyderabad two years ago.
KCR has also bowed before and touched the feet of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan ever since he became the CM in June 2014. Noted writer Prof Kanche Ilaiah, in a recent write up, lashed out at KCR for only bowing to Brahmins like Pranab Mukherjee and Narasimhan. “A CM in a secular country like India cannot openly practise caste based respect to constitutional dignitaries. If KCR is equal to all, why he is not touching the feet of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and President Kovind?” asked Prof Ilaiah. KCR received Kovind at Begumpet airport on Tuesday and saw him off the next day. On both occasions, he did not touch the latter’s feet. Some OBC students in OU displayed placards and screamed out allegations of caste based discrimination against the current President by the CM.
The students were also not happy with KCR not accompanying Kovind when the latter visited the Buddha statue in Hussainsagar Lake in Hyderabad on Wednesday. “We have seen a greater respect shown by KCR to Pranab Mukherjee during his visits here. There was not a single occasion when the CM was not around during the then President’s programmes, but why is he (CM) indifferent to the current President? Is it just because he is a Dalit?” asked M. Krishank, a Dalit scholar on OU campus, while talking to this newspaper.
However, the students belonging to TRS Vidyarthi Vibhav, affiliated to the ruling TRS, defended the CM by saying that KCR was meticulously following the official protocol to all Presidents of India, irrespective of their caste or social standing.