After ushering in Ugadi — the Telugu New Year — on March 18 with almanacs and its interpreters forecasting Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao can spell magic anywhere, he took off, the next afternoon, in a chartered 14-seater Bombardier Challenger 850 to discuss the prospects of forging a national Federal Front, opposed to both the Congress and the BJP, with his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and bringing together other like-minded parties.
Not surprisingly, KCR found instant support from the Trinamool Congress chief who is fighting the communists and the Congress on one side and the BJP on the other. At the end of a two-hour meeting in her office at the State Secretariat in Kolkata, both concurred, they have made a good beginning only to suggest that they have a long way to go. What they clamour for is a greater devolution of powers, as well as finances, from the Centre to the states by rewriting, if need be, the precepts of federal relations. Such a coming together of regional parties as a national coalition has been unimpressive in the past.
KCR found instant support from the Trinamool Congress chief (Photo: PTI)
Such coalitions, which came to power, during the tenure of the ninth and 11th Lok Sabhas, were short-lived as they were at the mercy or propped up either by the Congress or the BJP. Significantly, these were post-poll coalitions based on electoral outcomes and relative strengths of the parties and never through a pre-poll sharing of perceptions and understanding. Moreover, in changed political circumstances, it is unclear whether the BJP and the Congress will back a motley group of small parties to keep each other out of power.
KCR is, however, determined to be path-breaker and optimistic about delivering a masterstroke perhaps enthused by what almanac readers and other forecasters have hinted or indicated about his political future. For a dogged politician who waited for about a decade-and-a-half before capturing power, the TRS chief is acutely aware that regional parties which are a force in one or may be two states cannot add to each other's vote banks. The TRS, like most of them, will have to struggle to be relevant and seen as a serious player in a national election vis-à-vis the Congress and the BJP. It becomes even a greater challenge if the Lok Sabha poll is held simultaneously with the Assembly elections as it will be for the two Telugu states, including Andhra Pradesh.
The ambitious TRS strongman is pitching for drafting an alternative agenda by a pan-Indian rainbow coalition. “A Federal Front will be a huge entity. We have only seen BJP and Congress ruling the country. There have only been two choices. What magic can they do? We have seen what they did in the last 71 years. Don’t assume what we are forming is something that has already been tried. That is routine thinking. Our plans are much bigger,” says KCR, reluctant to divulge anything more except saying that it will be steered by collective leadership. “If the states are strong, the nation will be strong,” says a non-committal Banerjee.
“This is a stunt and not going to be a front,” says veteran Congress parliamentarian S Jaipal Reddy, sceptical about “power-hungry regional satraps doing political business from a larger perspective.” Others in Telangana claim it is KCR’s mantra aimed at diverting people’s attention from the failures of his government.
The TRS chief is not one to take criticism in his stride or brush it aside. Even if he is peeved, KCR is capable of chasing his dreams and goals with a single-minded pursuit. “India needs some miracle,” he says confident about casting a spell. Except that he is still far from bringing on board takers in several states.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)