One more shot at national politics: on K. Chandrasekhar Rao

Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao

Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao

Will Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao take the plunge into national politics ahead of the next general elections? A series of political developments in the last few weeks have prompted this question yet again.

First, CPI(M) top leaders, including the party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury, called on Mr. Rao recently in Hyderabad. They discussed the latest political developments at the national level against the backdrop of the Assembly elections to five States. CPI national general secretary D. Raja too called on Mr. Rao. The Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, also came with an invite from his father, Lalu Prasad, for Mr. Rao to enter national politics.

Mr. Rao has been toying with the idea of a federal front — a non-Congress, non-BJP platform — since March 2018. During his meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that year, he promised to come up with a secular alternative at the Centre.

These meetings of 2018 were followed by discussions with Mr. Rao’s Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. The hype some of these meetings created died down quickly.

Senior TRS leader B. Vinod Kumar finds nothing wrong with Mr. Rao’s idea. “The role of regional parties is inevitable in national politics,” he says. Congress spokesperson Dasoju Sravan, however, has a different take on Mr. Rao’s latest move. He says Mr. Rao’s popularity is on the wane and the populist schemes he had announced failed to yield the desired results as was seen in the recent Huzurabad bypoll.

Professor Y.L. Srinivas of Osmania University says Mr. Rao burnt his fingers in the 2019 general elections by floating the idea of an alternative front. Mr. Rao had hoped that the BJP would not win more than 150 Lok Sabha seats and the importance of regional parties would come into focus. His prediction was way off the mark. Mr. Rao realised that the BJP in the State was breathing down his neck and the Congress too had raised questions on the government’s functioning. This is his attempt to divert attention from these setbacks, Mr. Srinivas says.

Regional parties in united Andhra Pradesh are known to have taken a shot at playing a key role at the Centre. Former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao was credited with bringing in Opposition unity in the form of the National Front. Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu also tried his hands at playing a role in national politics. But none of the non-Congress governments led by V. P. Singh, H. D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral or Chandra Shekhar could complete their full terms.

In 2022, it would be a tall order for Mr. Rao to single-handedly knit a non-Congress, non-BJP front. His earlier attempts came to naught. Convincing regional satraps like Sharad Pawar, Ms. Banerjee, Mr. Patnaik, Mr. Stalin, Mr. Soren, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav and Mr. Tejashwi Yadav to sail together will not be an easy task for Mr. Rao.

The numbers, too, are against him. Telangana has only 17 Lok Sabha seats, which does not give it any leverage to dominate national politics. With States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and others having more Lok Sabha seats, the low number of seats in Telangana make Mr. Rao’s attempt a weak one.

With the general elections two years away, it remains to be seen how Mr. Rao’s dream takes shape. He can ill afford to ignore either the Congress or the BJP in the next elections in the event of the polls throwing up a hung House.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 3:11:37 pm |