Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) had a detailed meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday. Sources say that KCR “explained” his concept of the federal front to the Prime Minister ahead of the general elections. This was the first meeting of the Chief Minister with the Prime Minister in seven months after the Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in November 2017.
This was also their first meeting after KCR floated his federal front plans and met some non-Congress and non-BJP leaders. According to those who accompanied KCR to the PM’s meeting in Delhi, both leaders had cordial and elaborate talks on a range of issues, mostly concerning the state. The CM submitted as many as 10 memorandums to the PM, seeking his intervention. They met for an hour from 12.30 pm.
Though this meeting was billed as a purely official visit by the CM, sources said that the leaders discussed about the political situation in the country, especially in the wake of regional parties trying to regroup as an alternative at the Centre.
The meeting assumes significance as minutes after the CM left the Prime Minister’s Office, Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, too, called on PM Modi and discussed the present political situation in both the Telugu speaking states—Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Narasimhan later told the media in New Delhi that his meeting had nothing to do with KCR’s meeting with the PM.
However, there appears to have been a convergence of agendas at both the meetings in view of the growing distance between Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and the BJP, particularly in Andhra. Several leaders from the BJP and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress in Andhra are demanding CBI probes against AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on various “omissions and commissions” in the last four years and also when he ruled the combined state from 1995 to 2004.
Despite his efforts to float a federal front of regional parties and his “plan” to keep both Congress and BJP at bay, KCR is more inclined to fight the former as it is the principal Opposition party in Telangana. Congress leaders in Telangana are of the view that KCR is working to split the anti-BJP Opposition front at the national level.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy recently alleged that KCR was secretly helping the BJP through his federal front plans. “His (KCR) agenda is to bail out BJP by dividing the Congress-led front of Opposition parties,” Jaipal Reddy told this newspaper. Reddy said KCR would not join the BJP-led NDA now, but would do so after the elections.
This is contradicted by TRS leader in the Lok Sabha, A.P. Jitender Reddy, who is currently in Delhi and was part of KCR’s delegation to the PM. “It was purely an official meeting and the CM had come to Delhi to meet the PM to discuss several burning issues concerning the state. KCR specifically sought the PM’s personal attention to sort out 10 issues,” Reddy told The Sunday Guardian over phone.
An official adviser to the Telangana government who preferred not to be quoted told this newspaper that the CM’s meeting with the PM was encouraging and positive. “The CM is happy after the meeting,” said the adviser. KCR had gone to Delhi on 3 June to meet the PM, but had to return immediately as the latter was busy with an impending foreign tour at the time.
That the CM was happy with his meeting the PM was evident from the former’s revised tour. As per earlier information, KCR wanted to return to Hyderabad on Friday night if his meeting with the PM was not satisfactory, but the CM will now return home either Sunday evening, after participating in the Niti Aayog’s governing council meeting or on Monday.
Sanctioning national project status to the Kaleswaram irrigation project across the Godavari river is important among the 10 representations that were made to the PM on Friday. If this is granted, Telangana will get a substantial support from the Centre to the project that will create around 15 lakh acres of new ayacut (irrigated land) and stabilise another 25 lakh acres of already irrigated area.
KCR is actively pursuing national status to Kaleswaram as neighbouring Andhra had already got a national status project at Polavaram across the same Godavari river. BJP leaders had alleged misuse of funds at Polavaram, but the Centre has sanctioned environmental and hydrological clearances to Kaleswaram project. The CM thanked the PM for giving all clearances to the Rs 80,000 crore project.
KCR had urged the PM to give his nod to 12% reservations to Muslims and other castes and the new zonal system for recruitment and transfer of government employees. These two issues are important to the CM in this election year as he has to satisfy Muslims and government employees. The newly created seven zones system will give 90% reservation to locals in government jobs.
The other representations of the CM to the PM included granting a new IIT at Karimnagar, several new railway lines, the sanction of new Navodaya schools in all the 31 districts, the long pending demand for dividing the combined Hyderabad High Court for Telangana and Andhra, granting an IIM, release of funds for backward areas and the IT investments region around Hyderabad.