Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), who was on a pilgrimage to different temples in the southern states this week, is in talks with leaders of different local political parties for a new coalition at the Centre. However, so far he could only meet Kerala Chief Minister and CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan.
KCR held talks with Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram on 6 May and made a propsal on the need to form a federal front at the national level, without the BJP and Congress. Vijayan has agreed to bring the proposal to the notice of his party politburo.
This is a radical shift for KCR who till recently avoided the Left parties from his scheme of federal front which mainly consists of regional parties without BJP and Congress. KCR’s calculation was that the BJP won’t cross the 150-seat mark, while the Congress would stop below the 100-seat mark in the currently Lok Sabha elections. In that case, it would be possible to form a government with other regional parties.
KCR has teamed up with Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress which is expected to sweep Andhra Pradesh which has 25 MP seats. Together with Jagan, KCR believes the two Telugu parties will have around 35 MPs in their hands, a sizeable number for formation of any coalition at the Centre, if the BJP fails to cross the half way mark later this month.
There is also another marked shift in the strategy of KCR who till recently is viewed as closer to the BJP camp and was accused of indirectly helping Prime Minister Narendra Modi retain his position for a second term. However, now KCR is talking hard against the PM and BJP while softening his objection to Congress, the principal opposition in Telangana. Now for KCR, BJP is the bigger enemy than Congress. A major reason for this is the fierce fight put up by the BJP in Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat from where KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha is seeking a re-election. BJP has fielded Dharmapuri Arvind, the 42-year-old son of expelled TRS Rajya Sabha member Dharmapuri Srinivas, a former Pradesh Congress Committee leader and former minister.
In fact, Srinivas was shown the door from TRS a year ago for his alleged indirect support to his son Arvind who not only joined BJP, but also launched an attack against Kavitha. KCR is also furious that some of the 178 farmers who contested as independents in Nizamabad to irk his daughter Kavitha, were backed by BJP. This charge was denied by the BJP which said that the farmers who contested here included persons with different political leanings. However, TRS hasn’t relented and ensured some 75 farmers from Nizamabad had gone to contest against Prime Minister Modi in Varanasi.
There are unconfirmed reports that BJP president Amit Shah had called up KCR two weeks ago and expressed his displeasure over the Nizamabad farmers landing in Varanasi to embarrass the BJP. KCR, during the call, is believed to have raised Arvind’s issue with Shah.
KCR has taken a pilgrimage from 6 May to cover the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, so that he could visit several major temples there as well as meet the leaders of CPI(M), DKM and JDS. As per an earlier itinerary, KCR is supposed to be back home only next week, but he cut short his trip by Saturday, as he could not meet DMK and JDS leaders in the next few days.
This is because of M.K. Stalin’s unwillingness to meet KCR at this stage as his DMK is in an alliance with Congress. As per an earlier schedule, they were to meet in Chennai on May, but now that has been differed to a later date. So is the case with JDS leaders Deve Gowda and CM Kumaraswamy in Bangalore who, too, are not sure of meeting the TRS chief immediately.
A senior TRS MP close to KCR told this newspaper on Friday that the reports suggesting the reluctance of DMK and JDS leaders were incorrect. The MP, preferring not to be quoted, said that the Telangana Chief Minister would definitely meet the two leaders before 23 May and would play a bigger role in national politics.