Telangana CM Meets Regional Players: Opposition Uniting for Presidential Polls?

While KCR may have a bigger plan for 2024, his immediate goal is the presidential elections in July.

4 min read
Telangana CM Meets Regional Players: Opposition Uniting for Presidential Polls?

K Chandrashekar Rao seems to be embarking on the same route and mission that once his closest rival, N Chandrababu Naidu, adopted ahead of the 2019 national polls. But the former has immediate goals as he parleys with regional players.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chairman and Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekhar Rao, recently visited his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal. Both leaders, along with their cabinet colleagues, visited Delhi government schools and Mohalla clinics. KCR appreciated the steps taken by the Delhi government in the field of education and health. The Telangana Chief Minister also met Samajwadi Party supremo, Akhilesh Yadav, in New Delhi.

  • Telangana CM and TRS Chief K Chandrashekhar Rao recently visited Delhi and met his counterpart Arvind Kejriwal. He also met Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, and later travelled to Chandigarh and met Bhagwant Mann. He is also expected to meet Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik.

  • KCR understands that installing an opposition leader as President can make BJP’s reign less smooth.

  • The BJP has lost big states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu, and allies such as the TDP, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena.

  • However, KCR, who does not wish to be seen siding with the Congress.


2024 & Presidential Polls: Two Big Goals

Not just the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) & Samajwadi Party (SP) chiefs, but KCR also met the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy and farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. Later, he, along with Kejriwal, met Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in Chandigarh, where he handed over aid cheques to bereaved families of farmers and the Galwan martyrs. The back-to-back meetings of KCR with opposition leaders have started a political buzz about what he is trying to achieve.

Is KCR trying to stitch an alliance without the Congress for the mega show in 2024? Or, are these meetings with regional partners have more to them than what can be seen? Has Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) pushed KCR to go national, an experiment that Kishor has done with Mamata Banerjee, too? The three important aspects of KCR’s pan-India tour revolve around whom he is reaching out to, what his immediate intent is and the option of stitching a formidable alliance in 2024.


How Chandrababu Naidu's Strategy Had Failed

KCR is looking to adopt the same strategy that Chandrababu Naidu, the former Chief Minister of Andhra and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Chief, had adopted in the run-up to the 2019 national polls. Naidu had extensively travelled the length and breadth of the country, trying to form a mighty alliance to beat the BJP.

But his efforts barely made a difference and his poor performance in his own state has restricted his movement since then. KCR, who seems to be following in his footsteps, had earlier visited the national capital in the first week of March.

KCR also travelled to Bengaluru to meet former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) top leader HD Deve Gowda. He also visited social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare at his village Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra.

The Telangana Chief Minister is also expected to meet Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Interestingly, on his visit to Bihar, he is likely to meet not just Chief Minister Nitish Kumar but the leader of the opposition, Tejasvi Yadav, too. A meeting with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is also expected to take place soon.

Earlier this year, KCR had met Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. More or less, apart from his neighbouring Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, he is hoping to rope in many for the ‘master plan’.


Is BJP in an Uncomfortable Position After Losing Some Allies?

Forming a formidable alliance for the 2024 national polls is one goal; KCR’s outreach and parleys with his regional partners are for much more immediate plans. One of them could be forming a united opposition for the presidential elections in July. The TRS Chief understands the importance of the ‘unity of opposition’ for presidential elections, as installing an opposition leader as President can make BJP’s reign less smooth.

By 24 July, India has to elect its 17th President, who will be replacing the incumbent, Ram Nath Kovind. The BJP, which has its chief ministers in 12 states and is sharing power in other six, against 21 states that the party was ruling in 2017, is currently short of 9,194 votes to win on its own.

In the electoral college, the combined strength of all opposition parties in Parliament and state legislatures accounts for 51.1% of total points, compared to the BJP's 48.9%. This implies that the NDA is 2.2 percentage points behind the opposition as a whole.

KCR, who is on a mission to dissolve all ‘ifs and buts’ among regional players, knows that the BJP has lost big states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu, and allies such as the TDP, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena. This has pushed the BJP into a somewhat uncomfortable position for the presidential polls.


KCR Doesn't Want the Congress Involved

The efforts of KCR, who does not wish to be seen siding with Congress, can be crucial in denting the BJP’s bargaining skills.

KCR has reached out – or at least planned to reach out – to eight regional players. These eight states, including Telangana, send 246 parliamentarians to the Lower House. As per the 2019 national polls, the BJP has 181 MPs from these states as it has quite a good lead in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while the Opposition, excluding the Congress, has just 57, including 10 of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Electorally and evidently, even if KCR manages to bargain hard with other regional parties to come together for defeating the BJP presidential nominee, it would be tough to give a good fight to the BJP in the national elections of 2024.

However, the general election is two years away; if the ongoing planning for the presidential election bears fruit, it can be a game-changer. If the Opposition manages to install its representative at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the BJP’s going can get tough.

(Talha Rashid is a Delhi-based independent political researcher. This is an opinion article and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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