While the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is under flak from the opposition for allegedly using central agencies against its political opponents in various states, Telangana presents a contrasting picture.
The BJP leaders have been targeting the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for what they call the ‘most corrupt’ state government in the country, and some of them even threatened a probe by the central agencies. However, the state has not seen any action by agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
While TRS has often dared BJP leaders to initiate a probe if they have any evidence, the other opposition party Congress has trained guns on both BJP and TRS, saying lack of action by the Centre shows that they are hand-in-glove with the state government.
KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, and other TRS leaders have been raising the issue of misuse of central agencies by the Modi government. The Chief Minister spoke about it last week while addressing a meeting in support of Yashwant Sinha, the joint opposition candidate for the Presidential poll.
The TRS leader accused Modi of resorting to gross misuse of all Constitutional bodies every day to target his critics.
KCR’s son and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao also targeted the Prime Minister, saying he uses two weapons of ‘Jumla’ and ‘Humla’ against his opponents.
“How many ED, IT or CBI raids were conducted on BJP leaders or their kith and kin in the last eight years? Are all BJP leaders relatives of Satya Harischandra,” he asked.
Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay had said recently that the central agencies are keeping a tab on KCR’s corruption and very soon they would begin inquiry into the properties amassed by him.
“That is why KCR, his son and nephew are making a hue and cry, knowing fully well that they would be thrown behind the bars soon,” said Sanjay, while referring to the TRS chief’s visit to various states to hold talks with leaders of different parties for forging an anti-BJP alliance.
Sanjay, who is also a Member of Parliament, believes that KCR’s downfall has started. He alleged that KCR is trying to mobilise the support of the Chief Ministers and leaders of other states only to save his skin in the event of the Centre filing criminal cases against him.
The state BJP chief had earlier stated that KCR will soon go to jail. Hitting back at Sanjay, KCR had dared him to touch him and see what would happen.
“What do you think of yourself? You are saying that you would send me to jail. Do it. I dare you to touch me and see what would happen to you,” the TRS chief had stated.
A. Revanth Reddy, the President of the Telangana chapter of Congress, however, believes that the BJP and TRS are indulging in shadow-boxing.
He even alleged that the KCR family gives protection money to BJP to avoid investigation by the Central agencies.
“The BJP leaders are only making allegations against the KCR family, but they are not taking any action,” he said.
Political analysts feel that the BJP is taking all care to make sure that it does not burn all bridges with TRS. They pointed out that KCR had initially backed the Modi government on key measures like demonetisation, GST and even farm laws. The TRS had also extended support to BJP-led NDA’s candidates for the posts of President and Vice-President of India.
According to P. Raghavendra Reddy, a political analyst, it is a known fact that the Modi government has boosted ED, IT, CBI, and every other Central agency with more arms, and is using them all to get at opposition leaders across the country. While trying to project the Modi regime as a clean government, BJP wants to paint every opponent as corrupt.
“The Modi regime not only calculates the political outcome of any action by the Central agencies, it also keeps a window open for negotiation. It categorises parties and leaders into allies, potential allies, and complete opponents. While the gap between the BJP and the Congress, RJD, Trinamool Congress and a select few widened greatly, there are a few with whom the BJP might feel amends can be made depending on the situation and need,” Reddy said.
He is of the opinion that in case of a hung Assembly in Telangana, the BJP would want to forge an alliance with the TRS to form government. Hence, it might not be a good idea to burn down all bridges between the two parties.
“While the local leaders of the saffron party continue to stay aggressive on TRS, we have time and again noticed that the ministers in the Union Cabinet have appreciated the work of the KCR government,” he added.
TRS leaders also cite the statements made by some Central ministers to counter the attack on the state government.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J.P. Nadda, during their recent visits to the state, had come down heavily on the KCR government for corruption.
Nadda described the TRS government as the most corrupt government in the entire country. At a public meeting in Hyderabad on July 3, which was addressed by Prime Minister Modi, both Shah and Nadda lashed out at KCR for corruption and diversion of Central funds.
Nadda said that the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project has become an ATM for KCR, as he accused the Chief Minister of inflating the cost of the project from Rs 32,000 crore to Rs 1.32 lakh crore.
The state’s ruling party, however, dismissed the allegations by citing the statements made by the Central ministers in the Parliament.
TRS leaders said several Central ministers, while replying to questions of BJP and Congress MPs, told the Parliament that there was no corruption in the projects.
BJP and Congress MPs in the Parliament have asked questions about Telangana government’s flagship projects Kaleshwaram and Mission Bhagiratha, diversion of Central funds and non-implementation of Central schemes, but the ministers concerned in their replies had stated that there has been no corruption in these projects, no diversion of Central funds while the debt burden is under permissible limits.