Ministers and Unions Back KTR: KCR’s Son To Be Telangana CM Soon?
Cabinet ministers, TRS leaders and unions back KTR’s ascent to the chief minister’s post.
K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) has had a high profile in Telangana politics ever since his father, K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won the mandate in the state’s Legislative Assembly elections in 2014.
Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014 after years of protest, led by the TRS, government employees and social activists. That year, the party had won 63 out of 119 seats. In the next elections, held in May 2019, TRS returned to power with a thumping majority, winning 88 of 119 seats.
KCR is serving his second term as chief minister of Telangana. But now, is it time for KTR, the son, to take his father’s job?
Speculation is rife in the state’s political circles that KTR, as Rama Rao is popularly known, is likely to assume the CM’s role with the blessings of his father, who has practically retired to a quiet life on the outskirts of Hyderabad since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
In fact, there’s a date floating around for the expected takeover – 18 February – an auspicious day as per the Hindu calendar.
The Quint asked several employees’ Unions and state politicians what the administrative gear shift would mean to them. A large majority supported KTR’s takeover.
Many were, however, less candid when asked whether the state’s equation with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Centre would change if KTR took Telangana’s top job.
In the run-up to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election, KTR had accused the BJP of “spreading hatred.” The GHMC campaign ran on the tagline, “Do you want Dilli (Delhi) party or Galli (local) party?”
In the GHMC polls, TRS could bag only 55 of the 150 wards even as the BJP recorded a surge, upping its tally to 48 wards.
The state’s other Opposition party, the Congress, remained skeptical. Congress’ leader N Uttam Kumar Reddy said, “not much will change” with KTR taking over.
KTR is currently the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Industry and Commerce and Information Technology.
Speculation Amid KCR’s ‘Absence’
On 2 February, Bonthu Rammohan, former Hyderabad Mayor and TRS leader, said at a public appearance in Tirupati, “KTR will become chief minister of Telangana with the approval of TRS party MLAs.” He was only the third TRS leader to have fuelled the speculation in recent times.
On 22 January, Telangana Assembly deputy speaker, T Padma Rao Goud, even congratulated KTR “in advance” for being chosen as chief minister. Goud made the observation in front of KTR, who remained nonchalant at the mention.
Another senior leader, the state’s animal husbandry minister, Talasani Srinivas Yadav, has also made a mention of KTR’s imminent candidature as CM at a public function. “He has proved himself,” Yadav reportedly stated.
Previously, 2018 had seen a wave of speculations over KTR’s future as Telangana CM. This time, the speculation has been made believable by the CM’s prolonged absence from public functions, sources close to TRS leaders have told The Quint.
The chief minister who had held several media conferences as India went into a hurried lockdown in March 2020, withdrew from public appearances including meetings and inaugural functions starting May last year.
Meanwhile, KTR was seen holding meetings with ministers and IAS officers right through the pandemic.
As the Kalvakuntla family to which KCR belongs has been running the state, keeping only loyalists close to the seat of power, KTR’s ascent to the CM’s chair should be smooth.
“The TRS does not have any internal power struggles. KCR has made sure of that. Most likely, the party’s MLAs will rally behind KTR just as they have stood behind KCR,” a source said.
Over the past six years, the party has neutralised the once rising influence of KCR’s nephew Harish Rao, allowing him a place only second to the son. Senior leaders like Jagadish Reddy and Etela Rajender are also kept on a tight leash.
The confidence which senior leaders of the party have shown KTR has percolated down to the state trade unions which form the backbone of TRS’s support base. Speaking to The Quint, union leaders said that they “welcome KTR’s candidature as CM.”
‘KTR Can Get the Job Done’
Telangana Employees Union President Ch Sampath Kumara Swamy said, “He will bring a lot of changes to the status-quo”. While Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has not been meeting thousands of employees who have been clamouring for higher pay, the Union feels KTR will be more accessible.
Telangana state government employees have been protesting the current Pay Revision Commission recommendations. “KTR will be able to address grievances more regularly,” Swamy said.
Meanwhile, Telangana Information Technology Association (TITA), which has the support of IT employees from the private sector, thinks that KTR will be able to “market brand Hyderabad better”.
“He knows how the corporate ecosystem works and has been building the brand image of Hyderabad. When such a person becomes the chief minister it will help the IT sector. The sector will see further growth,”Sandeep Maktala president of TITA
With three more years left for KCR to complete his term as CM, will a change of guard really take place?
The Congress has a tongue in cheek response.
Congress: ‘The Next CM Should Be Dalit’
“If KCR really wants to step down, he should make a dalit the next CM. He owes the community at least that much,” Indian National Congress’s Nalgonda MP and President of INC Telangana, Uttam Kumar Reddy told The Quint.
The Congress’ dig is in reference to a statement Chief Minister Rao had made during the Telangana agitation. The first CM of Telangana would be a Dalit, he had reportedly said at the time. As part of their political rhetoric, the Congress has been taunting the CM.
“At least now, he should consider keeping his word and make a Dalit the next CM, and not his son,” Uttam Kumar Reddy said.
Like KCR, KTR too will not be able to fight off the BJP successfully because of the State-Centre equations at play, Congress MLA Danasari Anasuya said.
TRS has had a cordial equation with the BJP even as the BJP has grown politically in Telangana. With BJP winning 48 wards out of 150 in GHMC elections, the chief minister will have to do the balancing act of keeping the Centre happy even as he keeps the BJP at bay in the state, Anasuya opined.
Here's one final question. At 66, KCR is not yet an old politician by Indian standards. So, will he gradually move to the national political scene in search of a “federal front,” leaving his son in charge of Telangana?
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