Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, aspiring for a national role ahead of the 2024 election, launched the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), a new version of his party, at the recommended “auspicious time” of 1.19 pm on Wednesday.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is now BRS, Rao declared after a meeting of his party. Workers celebrated by bursting crackers and splashing the party’s colour pink on the city of Hyderabad.
The “name-change” was conveyed to the Election Commission, which has rules for recognising any party as national.
The new party, to be deemed a national entity, must be recognised as a state party in at least four states or has to have won six per cent of the votes in any four states and four Lok Sabha seats. Or the party must win two per cent Lok Sabha seats (11 seats) in at least three states.
For now, the TRS only has a strong presence in Telangana, which it rules.
Rao has made it clear that he intends to take on the BJP and challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024. In the past year, he has vastly escalated his rhetoric against the BJP, skipping PM Modi’s events and not even receiving him at the airport on his visits.
In the build-up to his relaunch, Rao, popularly known as KCR, met with several political leaders including his counterparts in other states – Mamata Banerjee (Bengal), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi), MK Stalin (Tamil Nadu), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) and Naveen Patnaik (Odisha).
Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and DMK ally Thol Thirumavalavan attended the launch party.
But unlike in 2018, KCR says he is not trying to bring regional parties together in a federal front. Instead, he wants to present an alternative welfare, development and political agenda to the people, he says. So KCR has reached out to farmers’ bodies, trade unions and civil society groups for an alliance that would reflect the aspirations of different sections of the society.
“KCR will be the catalyst bringing parties under one platform…His plan is not to become PM but to bring an alternative model of development,” TRS MP KR Suresh Reddy told NDTV. He rejected suggestions that KCR’s party could end up helping the BJP by dividing opposition votes.
“It is a mistake to say BRS will tacitly help the BJP. KCR has a national appeal,” Mr Reddy said.
KCR’s party men say he wants to present what he calls the Telangana model and showcase it to the rest of the country, with the promise to replicate his government’s welfare schemes, development programs and policies.
KCR plans to address a rally in Delhi on December 9 the day the then Congress government at the centre announced a separate Telangana state in 2009.
The renamed party may face its first election soon, in Telangana’s Munugode bypoll, expected on November 4. But that election will have to be still fought under the name of TRS, as the Election Commission’s endorsement is expected to take some time.
The party is also likely to contest assembly elections in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Delhi.
The BRS plans to retain its election symbol – the car – and also its pink colour, but it is still a long way from officially becoming a national party.
KCR has told party leaders they must tour different states to talk about the welfare schemes in Telangana over the last eight years in order to amplify the political influence of the party. He plans to tour extensively and has reportedly bought a 12-seater aircraft for the purpose.
With inputs from NDTV