NOW, KCR IN CAPITAL: Telangana chief minister fails to meet Akhilesh, Mayawati to push his grand alliance plan

NEWS / KCR /

NEW DELHI: As the political clock ticks closer to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Opposition parties are sizing up the emerging situation and devising ways to have a role in the next government at the Centre. Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who revived plans for a non-Congress and non-BJP Federal Front alliance of like-minded regional parties, was here on Wednesday, seeking meetings with two strongly-placed political leaders from Uttar Pradesh — Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. Both have cold-shouldered Rao, and avoided meeting him.

Mayawati who was in the capital since Saturday has not given Rao a time for a meeting, her BSP office said. Akhilesh was to meet Rao at his father senior UP politician Mulayam Singh Yadav’s residence, but the meeting did not take place during the day. Akhilesh’s associates said he would meet Rao a week or so later, but not now. “It is not time yet for serious discussions on alliance formation,” an SP spokesperson said, adding many things were yet to be ironed out.

Former chief ministers and bitter rivals in the past, Akhilesh and Mayawati, had crafted an alliance of their parties –BSP and SP – after both the parties lost the last assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh last year. Together they had polled votes equal to that of the BJP which won power. BSP is mainly pro-Dalit and SP pro-backwards, though others also are part of these parties. The attack on Dalits by cow vigilantes have strengthened Mayawati’s hands as there is more of a Dalit consolidation at the political level in Uttar Pradesh, as also in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The votes that the Congress won in the assembly polls in these three states this time had a strong Dalit content. Dalits voted en masse for the Congress with a view to defeating the BJP, as per some assessments. In UP, the Congress cannot hope for Dalit support as Mayawati is herself a strong force there. If Akhilesh and Mayawati stand together, neither the BJP nor the Congress would stand a chance in UP, as Muslims too would solidly back the alliance of these two leaders.

Chandrashekar Rao was in Bhubaneswar to push the alliance idea with chief minister Naveen Patnaik, and he later went to Kolkata to meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Both have made no commitment but did not gave wholehearted support at this juncture. They too are watching the political scene.

The Telangana leader, who won assembly polls and formed a new government recently, would himself like to move to Delhi sooner than later, should an opportunity arise. His son, KT Rama Rao has been groomed as his successor, and the son has a week ago been made the working president of the ruling party, the Telugu Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

Chandrashekar Rao is also keen on outwitting his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, N Chandrababu Naidu, who, much to Rao’s chargin, had returned to Telangana during the assembly poll time to try his political luck in his former turf in association with the Congress. Naidu bit the dust and scooted from the scene, winning a shameful three per cent vote share – against his party’s share of 15 per cent votes in the previous assembly polls after the state bifurcation. Rao now threatens to invade Andhra Pradesh with a strong political foray for his TRS party, to directly take on Naidu– something he had avoided doing so far. 

To add to Naidu’s discomfiture is the top Telugu actor Pawan Kalyan, 47, thrice married, who is a darling of the masses, and who had floated the Jana Sena party in 2014. This party is expected to enter the fray in the 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, directly taking on Naidu. 

With the sand under his feet slipping in AP, as had happened in the past too, Naidu is currently on another mission to craft an anti-BJP alliance in association with the Congress at the national level, and would not mind taking up a top political post in Delhi after the next LS polls. His son, Nara Lokesh, is being groomed as his successor. Chandrashekar Rao is keen on undercutting Naidu’s efforts, more so after the latter confronted him on the assembly poll turf this time. Naidu, who broke away from the NDA some six months ago, is now allying with the Congress. He had famously bad-mouthed Sonia Gandhi while in the NDA. 

Notably, KCR was with the Telugu Desam and held the Speaker post when Naidu was CM in old Andhra Pradesh state. Then, KCR formed TRS and plunged headlong into the Telangana statehood agitation. 

Chandrashekar Rao, endearingly called KCR, is a quiet operator. He does not have the bombast that marks out his AP counterpart and former political boss, Chandrababu Naidu. Rao held a meeting here Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first after his recent swearing in for a second term as CM in Hyderabad. Two days ago, a Congress leader had alleged that Rao’s present tour of capitals was aimed at scuttling the Congress-led anti-BJP alliance plans, and that Rao was an agent of PM Modi.

Meanwhile, the BJP national president Amit Shah has selected a set of senior leaders to oversee the campaigning for the LS polls in 17 states. One each senior leader would take up position at the respective state capitals soon, and would coordinate efforts in consultation with the party central leadership.

The BJP has already arrived at a seat-sharing formula with the JDU of chief minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan, ensuring a mix of upper caste (BJP), BC ( via JDU) and Dalit (LJP) votes.

The saffron party’s efforts at ramping up support through a Rath Yatra by Amit Shah in West Bengal have been scuttled as of now by the crafty chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a plea from the BJP for sanction to take out the Yatra, after the state government blocked it via a high court order.  –IHN-NN

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