As the polls for five Assemblies elections are over— and Rajasthan and Telangana have become unexpectedly exciting, with the Congress putting up a fight—it’s time to capture some broad trends.
What is striking are the areas where consensus is now developing across parties, and one of them is the need to provide social welfarism—call it freebies, doles, handouts, what you will—as part of a safety net. The Congress and the BJP are vying with each other to promise—and mount—new welfare schemes.
The Ladli Behna Yojna to give financial help to women has helped the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. With its guarantees which yielded rich dividends in the recent Karnataka elections, the Congress is playing the social welfare card to the hilt in all the states. In Rajasthan, the BJP has urged people to not be taken in by “magician” Ashok Gehlot, knowing some of his government’s welfare schemes have gone well. In Chattisgarh, the loan waiver promise of the Congress to farmers could be a game changer.
We are seeing competitive welfarism not witnessed before and these elections have again underscored the trend.
These elections have also shown that “competitive religion” is now going to be the way to go politically—electorally. The list of promises to Hindus as part of Kamal Nath’s outreach programme is long. If he comes to power, he will, for instance, install idols of lord Ram, Nishadraj, Kewatraj in Chitrakoot, have a Ram Van Gaman Path (tracing the path Lord Ram is believed to have taken when exiled to the forest) develop Janapav, revered as Parshuram’s birth place, as a pilgrim site, revive the project of a Sita temple in Sri Lanka, increase the honorarium to Hindu priests. And so o
Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghal is not to be left behind.. He is building a “Bhavya” temple for Kaushalya, Lord Ram’s, mother in the state, and his government started Ramayan Mahotsav to promote Chhattisgarh’s “cultural identity”.
Here’s a look at the KCR XI: Kalvakuntia Chandrashekhar Rao. The Chief Minister and BRS president is a product of grassroots politics. Starting as a youth congress worker, KCR switched teams to play for Telugu Desam Party and defeated the seemingly invincibly Congress MLA, Madan Mohan, from Siddipet. He continued winning and eventuality became Deputy Speaker of United Andhra Pradesh.
Those who have closely interacted with him mention his meticulous planning and eagerness to grasp any subject. One of his favourite topics is agriculture, which led him to designing multiple schemes around it. In his first two terms, KCR has focused a lot on welfare schemes for the poor and those from various communities, who form a good chunk of the party’s vote bank. Like during the past two elections, KCR, this time too, is boarding choppers to attend two or three campaign meetings every day.
K T Rama Rao, the vice captain of the team, is the first to take strike when it comes to fighting the opposition, explaining the party’s stance or championing his father’s initiatives.
The BRS working President is two — time state minister and is known, like his father, for his articulate speeches. He is also known to play pivotal role within the council of ministers in matters of information technology, corporate affairs and industrial policy, and is also involved in the development and modernisation of Hyderabad. The KCR team has emphasised on implementation of the farmers friendly programmes as also industries. Congress in its campaign offered to Telangana people more facilities to outdo KCR regime. KCR’s big advantage is that his team consists of highly competent experts who are efficient implementers.
Harish Rao is an all—rounder who has honed his skills under the tutelage of his uncle, KCR, Harish enjoys a high strike rate; the party chief relies heavily on him for strategies and execution. During election times, he assumes the roles of trouble shooter and poll management expert, and is deployed in constituencies crucial to the party. He inherited Siddipet after his uncle vacated the seat and has consistently won it with record margins. He indirectly manages KCR’s constituency—Gajwel and oversees ground-level activities. Entrusted with the irrigation ministry to execute the Kaleshwaram project, he was later appointed to the finance ministry when the state was cash-strapped. Harish also took over as health minister during the pandemic. For the captain, his nephew, is the man for all seasons.
Vamshidhar Rao, a recent debutant from the Kalvakuntlelda family, Vamshidhar is a steadily gaining prominence within the team. He is the son of KCR’s elder brother, and has, of late been seen in the chief minister’s company. Vamshidhar plays a crucial role in KCR’s national ambition. He was appointed Maharashtra BRS in-charge this year; under him, the party recently won more than 50 gram panchayat seats there.
Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, the PhD holder and nominated MLC has been KCR’s trusted associate for a long time. Whether it is an internal party meeting, unofficial discussions, or Puja ceremony, Reddy is one of the few always seen with KCR. His significance can be gauged from the fact that he was chairman of the Rythu Bandhu Samithi, a government body formed for farmer welfare. Reddy is now gearing up to contest the assembly elections from Jangaon.
If Congress can finally unseat this BRS government in Telangana, that will be a great feat for the party which was marginalized in 2018 polls. (IPA Service)