Hyderabad: Left with a cold response from many Opposition parties to his federal front idea, TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has decided to wait till 23 May, before deciding his next course of action. He wants to wait to know his strength as well as that of the other parties after the election results are announced on Thursday before making any moves, sources close to him said.
KCR’s visit to Chennai on 13 May to meet DMK chief M.K. Stalin had evoked a poor response as the latter not only differed with the former on the prospects of a non-BJP, non-Congress government at the Centre after the elections, but also invited the Chief Minister to join the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), in which the Tamil Nadu party was a constituent. The 30-minute-long meeting between them turned out to be a courtesy call.
As a result, both KCR and Stalin didn’t speak to the waiting media after the meeting. The DMK chief, however, held a media conference the day next to clarify that KCR had come to Chennai mainly to visit some temples in the city and not much was discussed about politics. Stalin also made it clear that he had no trust in the concept of regional parties coming together to form a government on their own now.
Besides, Stalin also sent his emissary Durai Murugan to Vijayawada to meet Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and clarify that DMK had no intention of leaving the Congress included front in Tamil Nadu. Naidu, though he contested without an alliance with Congress in Andhra Pradesh, has been acting as an emissary of Congress at the national level, to prevent the BJP from coming to power at the Centre.
This has obviously dampened the spirits of KCR who had pinned hopes on DMK which has strong roots in the regionalism and federalism. As a consequence, the Telangana Chief Minister has dropped his plans of meeting Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy before the counting of votes next week. KCR feared that Kumaraswamy, too, like Stalin might invite him into UPA.
Senior TRS leaders who accompanied KCR to the Chennai tour told this newspaper that their Chief Minister was keen on building a “powerful block” with enough bargaining power at the national so that whoever forms the next government cannot ignore them. If a national level federal front was not possible, at least a southern block of regional parties can be worked out, they said. KCR is counting on his party bagging at least 15 to 16 out of the total 17 MPs in Telangana and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress which can win a majority of 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh to begin with for this southern power group.
KCR wanted to add DMK and JDS to this group and secure the blessings of CPI(M). With more MPs in his group, KCR expected a better bargaining power at the national level.
TRS sources said that the Chief Minister was in touch with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik too. KCR is of the view that these three leaders would adopt independent lines once the results were announced and they can tilt anyway according to their advantage. A fluid political situation can throw any number of options to the regional parties with double digit MPs.
TRS hasn’t received invitation from Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for a like-minded parties’ meeting at her residence in Delhi on the evening of 23 May, the day of election results. Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress, too, hasn’t been invited to the Congress meeting. This, in the usual course, should have forced KCR to tilt to the BJP camp. But, it is not so.
KCR is open to all options after 23 May, after seeing his tally of seats as well as that of the others. “For KCR sir, interests of Telangana are foremost. We will take a call on joining any formulation of parties that may come up at the Centre only after seeing our actual results. After all, our bargaining power will depend on our seats and that of others,” a senior MP close to the CM said. Presently, KCR is a loner of sorts. He has strained relations with both Congress and BJP. He has no big camp-fellows among regional parties too, except Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress from AP. It’s well known that Jagan Reddy, too, can take any decision to suit his interests in the post-poll situation. So, KCR, too, is forced to take his own course depending on the unfolding situation after 23 May.
Sources said that KCR would be interested in joining any government at the Centre to secure interests of Telangana. That happens only if BJP falls short of numbers to form a government on its own. KCR’s son and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao has recently told his party leaders at a meeting that even otherwise, KCR had his own work in the state for the next five years.