Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has deputed his son K.T. Rama Rao, who is also the IT and Panchayat Raj Minister, and daughter K. Kavitha, MP from Nizamabad to take charge of the party’s campaign for the prestigious Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls slated to be held on 2 February.
KCR, who is also the president of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, has entrusted K.T. Rama Rao, popularly known as KTR, with overall responsibility of ensuring the party’s victory in the GHMC elections that are being held after a gap of six years after High Court intervention. The court ordered that the election process be completed by 8 February. As per the schedule announced on Friday, the notification will be issued on Tuesday and the counting of votes will take place on 5 February.
The elevation of KTR has raised eyebrows among political circles as it excludes another powerful kin of KCR, his nephew and Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao from the GHMC electioneering. Being a senior to KTR both in terms of age and experience, Harish had so far played a key role in every election the TRS fought. This is the first time that Harish Rao will play a minor role in an electoral battle.
KTR’s elevation as the head of the party’s campaign command in the GHMC polls also implies that all other senior ministers from the city limits — Deputy CM Mahmood Ali, Naini Narasimha Reddy, T. Srinivas Yadav, Padma Rao and Mahender Reddy — should report to him.
Winning GHMC has become a major challenge to KCR as his TRS won just two out of 25 Assembly seats under the limits of the civic body in 2014. Congress, AIMIM, Telegu Desam Party and BJP have won more seats, thus making the ruling party a minor force in the capital city.
A victory in GHMC polls is essential for TRS if it wants to retain power in the next Assembly elections three years from now.
Under KCR’s guidance, KTR has emerged as a strong political force, handling the defection of several TDP legislators and Congress leaders into the TRS. As IT Minister, KTR has developed contacts with the IT industry, and the IT workforce, which accounts for a large voter base in at least 20 of the 150 divisions.
All the party leaders in the city are supposed to take direction from KTR, who would monitor the party campaigning in the coming days. Even selection of candidates and campaign strategies would be finalised by KTR.
“KTR is a dynamic leader who can understand the needs of urban voters and can connect with the youth,” TRS Greater Hyderabad president Mynampalli Hanumanth Rao told this newspaper.
Opposition Congress and TDP, however, mocked KCR’s decision to elevate his son. “This shows he has no faith in other leaders including senior ministers from the city,” said Congress Rajya Sabha member V. Hanumanth Rao. TDP MLA A. Revanth Reddy said, “The CM is undermining other seniors in the party.”
However, TRS leader and MLC, K. Prabhakar defended KCR’s decision on the ground that KTR and Kavitha were born and brought up in the city and that they would connect well with the youths, who constitute 50% of the city’s electorate.
Kavitha will be another chief campaign coordinator for TRS in the GHMC polls. Party leaders feel that she being a woman will be able to mobilise the women voters. Besides that, she heads Telangana Jagriti, a cultural wing which is very popular in the city.
KTR and Kavitha have started addressing small gatherings as part of the campaign.