By Sushil Kutty
What is happening in Telangana? After Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha declined to entertain the Enforcement Directorate’s invitation to drop by for another round of questioning in the Delhi Excise Policy case, there’s not much been heard of, and from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi. The Congress has hijacked the political narrative from not only the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, but also from the rest of the opposition parties.
Simply put, this whole thing about “Rahul Gandhi on foreign soil” has diverted attention from opposition unity, and the upcoming six assembly elections including the one in Telangana due in December 2023, ahead of the 2024 general elections. KCR had told media in 2022 that the BRS will out-perform its last assembly elections score of 88 and take the party’s tally in the 118-member Telangana assembly to 95.
But what is KCR thinking now, after the “Rahul Gandhi show on foreign soil” and the political fallout of Rahul refusing to bow to the BJP diktat and “apologise”, asking “apologise for what”? Nobody is sure about the BRS’s take on “Rahul Gandhi on foreign soil”. For KCR, both the BJP and the Congress are adversaries, and he cannot be seen to be taking sides. That said, it is a risk not to be heard of, and from, for too long.
Especially, when other opposition parties hold meetings and promise to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party with combined force in 2024. Unfortunately, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi seems to have no role to play in this noble endeavour. For some reason, the BRS leader KCR comes out as a tall loner. It is a hard fact that is not easy to digest. JD(U) stalwart Nitish Kumar tried to be friendly, but was left tugging at his Telangana counterpart’s shirttails.
Truth be disclosed, even the ED action against KCR’s daughter K Kavitha did not ruffle too many opposition parties’ feathers. The AAP, which is in the same boat after Manish Sisodia’s arrest and incarceration, was more lost in its own thoughts, and travails. People quite easily forget that AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal’s short-term amnesia is an unforgettable part of his persona and politics!
It is also lore that KCR is one among several opposition leaders with national ambitions. There’s Kejriwal, and there’s Mamata Banerjee. And, if KCR turned the TRS into BRS, it was also because he was harbouring national ambitions and, therefore, required a national platform to launch himself from.
KCR had in October 2022 made it clear that he would not call for snap assembly polls. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi said on March 17, 2023 that the decision stands. KCR reiterated this at the party’s national executive meeting, “No early polls… BRS will go into elections as per schedule. Padayatras would be held across the state. Leaders must start interacting with public…”
For all we know, however, early polls could still be called by KCR. It is no secret that KCR is wary of the BJP’s “election machinery”, and the kind of “dirty politics” that the BJP could descend to in a do-or-die election battle. KCR and the BRS, therefore, are not taking things lightly though the Modi government is bent on throwing spanners at the BRS with the central investigative agencies randomly targeting BRS lawmakers to lure them away.
KCR couldn’t be far from the truth when he accused the BJP of using its ruling-party prowess to compel BRS lawmakers to shift allegiance with threats of CBI/ED raids, not even sparing “my daughter Kavitha”, who was to be questioned again. Kavitha says the Modi government is using the ED for making a “back door’” to power in Telangana.
As things stand, the BRS cannot be beaten in Telangana, neither by the Congress nor by the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the fight will be “fierce”. A BRS victory will help advance KCR’s prime ministerial ambitions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the BJP will notch upwards of 400 Lok Sabha seats in 2024. A BRS sweep of Telangana in the assembly elections could thwart Narendra Modi’s plans.
But because the sole purpose of every BJP leader is to ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains Prime Minister, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP Chief JP Nadda are stuck to their Telangana brief: Prepping for the day of the Telangana assembly elections which will along with the other assembly elections set the stage for the 2024 general elections. (IPA Service)