By Sushil Kutty
On August 31, 2022, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, a.k.a ‘KCR’, travelled to Patna and met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar calling for a ‘BJP-mukt Bharat’. Kumar and KCR weren’t comfortable with each other at a presser, as KCR called for the unity of all the opposition parties.
“Sabhi Opposition parties ko ek jut hona padega” was how the Telangana Chief Minister put it. KCR also met RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav before he returned to the Telangana capital Hyderabad.
On January 18, 2023, at a mega rally of KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Khammam district of Telangana, a non-BJP, non-Congress, ‘third front’ was “seen”, with the sole objective to put an end to the BJP rule, and evict Narendra Modi from 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, the official residence of the Prime Minister of India.
The glaring omissions at KCR’s mega rally were Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashvi Yadav. KCR’s Patna visit was a complete waste. It must not have surprised KCR. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, are among the 21 parties invited to be at Rahul Gandhi’s side at the culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar on January 30.
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party are among the 21 invited to Rahul’s BJY climax. But the SP, and the BSP, have nothing to gain from being in the Congress camp. On the contrary, an alliance with the Congress will be counterproductive.
So, Akhilesh chose KCR over Rahul Gandhi. A wise choice. From all indications, and despite the BJY “success”, the Congress has hardly a presence in Uttar Pradesh and joining a front led by the Congress would only cut into the SP’s vote-share, and at the end of the day help the BJP.
Come to think of it, it would have done the BSP also good if Mayawati too had done an Akhilesh on the Congress. She should have joined the BRS’s mega rally at Khammam along with Akhilesh Yadav, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, and CPI leader D. Raja.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is also in the KCR-led front though she did not attend the Khammam rally. With the Trinamool Congress, KCR’s third front would be more effective in thwarting “Modi-the-fanciful 400-plus seats in 2024” boast.
The BJP faces a tough battle in West Bengal. And with the Congress capable of only a dud in Mamata’s stronghold, both the ‘Congress-UPA front’, and the BJP, would be left floundering in the Ganga at Howrah. The BJP’s promise of 400-plus seats in 2024 is tall talk backed by nothing solid to back it up.
Telangana is the “Gateway to the South” and the BJP has expectations from Telangana. The BRS-led front can close the “southern gateway” for the BJP, making it very difficult for the saffron party to get anywhere near the 60 Lok Sabha seats it expects from the “South”.
KCR is the ‘leader’ of this front. The mega rally was to send a clear message to Narendra Modi. There is not an ounce of love lost between KCR and Modi. The mega rally was both a show of strength and the birth of an anti-BJP front for the general elections.
For the BJP, the takeover of Telangana, which goes to polls later this year, is also a goal. KCR is aware of this, and he formed the BRS to take on the BJP at the national-level. True to his ambitions, KCR spelled out his “national vision”, and announced his “farmer-friendly policies”.
At least for Akhilesh Yadav, KCR was the leader of the alliance. The SP Chief said as much before the mega rally. He extolled the BRS chief’s role in uniting “opposition parties” to take on the BJP.
The one quality in KCR that is recognized is that he is focused to the point of being branded stubborn. It was Rao’s single-minded determination that “made Telangana” possible against all odds. And, now, Rao’s focus is centred on defeating the BJP in 2024.
To that end, the Telangana Chief Minister is trying to help form a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance, which may or may not be called the ‘Third Front’. There are still 400 days before the holding of the Lok Sabha elections. Lot of rethinking is taking place among the opposition parties who are positioned against the BJP. KCR will have to wait for few more months to assess whether his move can take headway. (IPA Service)