KCR’s Federal Front Gameplan: Telangana CM’s Agenda Seems Muddled
With KCR being careful not to commit to a ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ front, the Federal Front agenda seems muddled.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have failed to address the people’s problems in the last 70 years. The Front we are proposing is a “different front”, a Federal Front and it will be according to people’s needs.”
These were the words of Telangana Chief Minister (CM) K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) on 19 March, after his meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. That was the first meeting in the Telangana Chief Minister’s ‘tour’ for the Federal Front, and KCR had criticised both the BJP and the Congress in his press conference after the meeting.
But the Chief Minister was careful not to commit to a ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ front, and more than a month since that first meeting, political observers and critics say, KCR’s agenda with the Federal Front seems much more muddled.
Consider the people he has met: Along with actor Prakash Raj, the Telangana Chief Minister met JD(S) chief Deve Gowda in Bengaluru, and announced that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is supporting the party in the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka. He also asked the Telugu speaking people of Karnataka to support the JD(S) in the polls.
On Sunday, 29 April, KCR went down to Chennai to meet DMK leaders Karunanidhi and Stalin as part of the discussions to stitch up the Federal Front.
There are rumours that the JD(S) may align with the BJP in a post-poll tie up in Karnataka if there is no clear winner. And the DMK was part of the UPA – and allied with the Congress in the 2016 Assembly elections in the state as well.
So when a reporter asked in Chennai if the Federal Front was going to include the Congress, KCR’s curious reply was, “We are neither saying we will associate with the Congress or desert them. We don’t propose any such thing now. We will have discussions among ourselves for the next two-three months and then arrive at a consensus on what we need to do and what we shouldn’t.”
Coming just after a month of his lashing out at the Congress as well as the BJP, the situation is being closely watched by political observers.
However, some analysts say that KCR’s moves may ultimately end up helping the BJP. “By supporting Deve Gowda, he may be attempting to cash in on a political situation if Karnataka does witness a hung Assembly,” a political observer told TNM.
“KCR wants to be in a position to broker a post-poll alliance between the JD(S) and the BJP, and depending on how the elections go, he may end up negotiating with the BJP at the central level,” they added.
But while this is the reading of observers, the political play unfolding in the state shows that politicians themselves are trying to throw the public off any speculation at this point.
The BJP in Telangana has hit out at KCR for his change of tone towards the Congress. BJP Telangana spokesperson, NV Subhash, said that KCR’s efforts for a Federal Front are an attempt to divert attention away from his decreasing popularity in the state.
“He knows he can’t come back to power in Telangana. He wants to divert attention, that’s why he’s saying a different thing every day,” Subhash said.
“His change of tone shows that he cannot live without the Congress. Everything else is a political pilgrimage,” he added.
While the BJP claims KCR is siding with the Congress, the Congress itself is his main rival in the state. Their seemingly high-pitched rivalry led to the expulsion of two Congress MLAs from the Telangana Assembly on the charge of unruly behaviour.
While the High Court has set aside that decision, there is still politicking going on over it.
The Congress meanwhile has dismissed KCR’s Federal Front pitch. Speaking to TNM, Krishank Manne, Telangana state Congress spokesperson, lashed out at KCR saying, “KCR does not have any credibility. He is playing to the gallery. Why hasn’t he made his stand clear on the Unnao and Kathua rape cases?”
Whether KCR is hoping to team up with BJP or Congress, observers say that one thing is clear: KCR’s Federal Front does not have any ideological lines of political base.
Senior journalist and political commentator Telakapalli Ravi said, “He has to first define the Front’s political principles. Are they “with someone” or “against someone”? Unless there is clarity from the leadership on the Federal Front’s political policies, they will not gain credibility.”
Ravi further observed, "His political rivals are saying that he’s speaking about national politics just to cover up his failures in the state. Unless he announces the terms and policies of the Federal Front, the whole episode will be treated as political propaganda ahead of the election year.”
(The copy has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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