KCR wants to undermine the Congress, which it sees as its primary adversary in Telangana.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has told his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee on 19 March that he would be treating the Congress as his main enemy in the state and he would not accommodate the grand old party in his proposed secular front or third front at the national level.
The meeting between the two CMs took place after KCR led a compact delegation to Kolkata, including his daughter Kavitha, a Lok Sabha member; TRS Rajya Sabha member K. Keshav Rao, and his additional secretary Smitha Sabharwal, who knows Bengali. The delegation also had a couple of political aides. KCR offered prayers at Kali temple at Kalighat in Kolkata for the success of the new front of parties excluding BJP and Congress.
According to sources who accompanied KCR to Kolkata, the Bengal CM appeared keen on building an alternative at the national level to prevent a BJP or Congress led government coming to power after the 2019 elections, but she was not sure whether, or not, she would like to keep the Congress out of the ambit of the proposed third front. She informed KCR that she had already committed herself to support Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from Bengal.
KCR made a presentation before the Bengal CM on the successful implementation of several developmental and welfare schemes by his government in Telangana and lauded some of the good initiatives taken by “Didi” for promoting industrialisation in the state. Both felt that there was a need to float a front of parties based on a development agenda, said sources close to KCR.
KCR told Mamata Banerjee that they should fight to increase the share of the states in government funds and programmes and promote the federal spirit of the Constitution. CM Mamata gave a patient listening to KCR’s proposal that the states should have final say on the items listed in the concurrent list of the Constitution.
Though KCR seemed to be advocating an enhanced role for the states in governance, it is believed his main focus was on undermining the Congress which is trying hard to pose a challenge to him in the next elections. He wants to stifle perception that the Congress is picking up at the national level following its victory at some by-elections here and there.
Congress MLA A. Revanth Reddy, who defected from the TDP recently, said that the third front was nothing but an attempt to stop opposition parties from joining a Congress led coalition before or after the 2019 polls.
TRS MLC Karne Prabhakar, when asked about this, refuted the charge and said that the CM had no hidden agenda to promote the interests of the BJP. He cited the BJP’s decision to boycott Friday’s Rajya Sabha elections in Telangana in which the ruling TRS won all the three seats. “We have taken the help of MIM which has seven MLAs, but not that of the BJP,” Prabhakar pointed out.
TRS leaders are keenly watching the developments in New Delhi as NCP leader Sharad Pawar is hosting a dinner for non-BJP parties on Tuesday. CM Mamata is expected to turn up at this dinner. KCR is also planning to visit Mumbai to meet Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray and a few other leaders of smaller parties next month.