Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s second meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in less than 50 days — following the compliment in Parliament that he is refreshingly focused on development of the fledgling state — is apparently leading to a change of heart.
KCR is opening up to the idea of a post-poll deal with the BJP, if numbers do not favour the NDA in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The ruling party in Telangana, though not a part of the NDA, took the tactical stand by abstaining from the no-confidence motion moved by the Telugu Desam Party on the tardy implementation of the assurances in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014.
It is of sizeable significance for Telangana too, considering there are several outstanding issues on sharing assets, particularly of state-funded institutions, state-owned corporations and other entities between it and Andhra Pradesh.
The BJP needs the TRS more in Telangana.
These are besides the inordinate delay in the bifurcation of the High Court between the two states. At the second Modi-KCR meeting on August 4, the chief minister made it clear that until the division of the High Court takes place “the long-cherished dream of Telangana remains unfulfilled as the state does not have its own separate High Court.”
Pointing to the changed demographics of Telangana, post the reorganisation, he sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to get Presidential assent for raising the reservation quotas in education and employment over and above the Supreme Court guidelines to keep it below 50 per cent.
KCR’s compulsion is that it can serve as a potential vote-grabber for his party. He wants to borrow from the Tamil Nadu model, where reservations have already reached 69 per cent, to segregate caste cohorts and earmark percentages including 12 per cent for Muslims.
To top it, having raised the number of districts in the state from 10 to 31 after Telangana came into being, he wants to redraw zones so that 95 per cent of the jobs go to the locals in that zone. KCR is trying to be pragmatic believing firmly that regional parties, like the TRS, does not face existential concerns because a strong BJP can strike a win-win deal.
Moreover, the BJP needs the TRS more as the Congress remains the principal opposition in Telangana.
This is why he is banking on a large wish list, which includes seeking Rs 20,000 crore for the ambitious and controversial Kaleshwaram irrigation and potable water scheme.
KCR is keeping options open about stepping into the shoes of Chandrababu Naidu.
The TRS was among the first regional parties to endorse and support NDA’s presidential nominee Ramnath Kovind and announce support for the Modi government’s demonetisation scheme. Influential leaders in the TRS are optimistic about the Prime Minister conceding to some of the demands in the run up to the polls. If perchance, the NDA government does not fulfil some of the TRS wishes, the ruling party will reserve its right to target the BJP.
KCR is aware, as much as the BJP, that it does not have much of a chance in Telangana, where it won just five of the 119 seats in 2014 despite concerted attempts to build the party organisation through polling booth-level committees.
He is keeping options open about stepping into the shoes of the Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, once his leader too, in rallying support of parties in different states and try to swing them in favour of the NDA to form the next government in Delhi, if need be.
Being a crafty strategist, he is poised to do this better than Naidu did in installing coalition governments in the past.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)