The TRS chief has a chequered relationship not only with the Congress but also with Telugu Desam

Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is flexing his muscles to lead the party to victory in the elections and form the government, has had a chequered relationship not only with the Congress but its main rival – Telugu Desam – as he committed too many flip-flops in the 13-year-old journey of the TRS.

It was on March 4, 2004, that he inked a pact with the Congress on a plain paper agreeing to the constitution of a second States’ Reorganisation Commission (SRC) as a precondition to an alliance between the two parties for the general elections a month later.

Mr. Rao abandoned the SRC proposal within days but the Congress made a climb-down as it included in the manifesto of United Progressive Alliance that the demand for separate Telangana would be considered at an appropriate time after arriving at a consensus.

The Congress conceded 44 Assembly seats as part of the alliance but the TRS contested 52 seats, marking the beginning of the bad blood between the two parties. With 26 MLAs and five MPs, the TRS joined the governments both in the State and the Centre.

Mr. Rao pulled out the six Ministers of TRS from the Cabinet of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in 2005 but he himself and his colleague A. Narendra continued in the UPA government for one more year until both of them finally resigned and the party withdrew support to the government. During the period, he set several deadlines for the UPA to concede statehood for Telangana but the Congress did not yield ground.

In the 2009 elections, Mr. Rao joined forces with the Telugu Desam after it submitted an undertaking to a sub-committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee supporting separate Telangana. The TRS became part of a ‘maha kootami’ (grand alliance) comprising TDP, CPI and CPI(M) though the Marxists opposed the demand.

The TDP beat TRS at its own game by conceding 45 Assembly seats but by giving B-forms to TDP candidates in 20 more constituencies.

Mr. Rao and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu sat down the next day and ensured that 12 of the 20 candidates withdrew from contest. However, three of the rest eight TDP candidates managed to win and the TRS was at loggerheads with that party ever since.

Hunger strike

The TRS won only 10 Assembly seats in 2009 but its fortunes peaked significantly after Mr. Rao went on an indefinite hunger strike leading to the Central government’s announcement about formation of the State on December 9 that year.

He promised to merge his party with the Congress after the State was achieved but went back on it and, more recently, he also ruled out any electoral alliance with the Congress.

He has also promised to support the Congress if it was in a position to form a government at the Centre in these elections but only time can tell if he will live up to it and how long.