Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ruling parties of both Telugu states opt out of Oppn unity moves

With both Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) staying away from Patna meeting of opposition parties, the Telugu states may not have any role in cobbling together an anti-BJP front ahead of 2024 elections.

While Telangana’s ruling party BRS is trying to expand on its own to other states, Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSRCP prefers not to be part of any pre-poll alliance at the national level.

With opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by actor politician Pawan Kalyan inclined for an alliance with the BJP, it appears that there will be no contribution from Telugu states to the opposition unity at the national level.

After failing in his efforts to form an alternative to both Congress and BJP, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has charted his own course by turning Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) into BRS late last year to expand his footprints to other states.

Before 2019 elections and again in 2021-22, KCR had reached out to various regional parties to bring them on a common platform but his efforts did not yield desired results as parties like DMK, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party insisted that the Congress should be a part of any anti-BJP alliance.

However, BRS wants to maintain equi-distance with both BJP and Congress. After BRS skipped the Patna meeting, its working president K. T. Rama Rao (KTR) explained that BRS doesn’t subscribe to the view that the BJP or Congress should be the nucleus of any front or coalition.

“We believe in uniting people on issues and not uniting political parties. Even if 20 parties unite and there is no outcome, which is people-centric, there is no point in it. It can’t hinge on your blind hatred for one party or another,” he said.

What raised eyebrows in political circles is that on the day when opposition leaders were meeting in Patna, KTR was in Delhi the same day to meet Central ministers. Though officially the purpose of the meetings was to put forth before the Centre certain demands with respect to various infrastructure projects, the timing of the visit triggered speculations.

“KTR’s visit to Delhi and meetings with union ministers is not a mere coincidence. This is to cement the secret pact with the BJP,” alleged AICC incharge for Telangana, Manikrao Thakare.

He claimed that this proves that there is a secret understanding between BRS and BJP. “Even the TRS transforming into BRS is aimed at helping BJP. BRS will be acting as B team of BJP by cutting into anti-BJP votes,” he said.

KTR’s visit to Delhi assumed further significance in the wake of recent change of tack by KCR. At his public meetings in different parts of the state over the last couple of weeks, the BRS chief went all out to attack the Congress party but spared BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had been his main targets over the last couple of years.

This sudden change in his approach baffled political circles. Some political analysts see this as a change in strategy by KCR for Assembly elections due to be held in the next four-five months.

“KCR is the smartest and shrewdest politician in the country. He realised that after the Karnataka poll results, the momentum has shifted towards Congress and hence he began attacking the party,” explained political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

However, others believe BRS may have entered into a secret understanding with the BJP. As part of this, both the parties may have agreed not to attack each other. “If BRS falls short of majority, it may take the help of BJP and in return the BRS may extend its support to BJP post 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” said another political analyst P. Pavan.

The state Congress leaders see a direct link between allegations against KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha in Delhi liquor policy case and the sudden change in the BRS leader’s tone and tenor. “Kavitha was questioned only a couple of times by CBI and ED but the kind of action we have seen against others in various states has not been taken in her case,” said Abdullah Sohail Shaik, chairman of minorities department of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.

Political analysts point out that Telugu states have been losing their relevance in national politics. “YSRCP has failed to bargain a better deal for Andhra Pradesh including special category status in return for the crucial support he extended to the Modi government in Parliament for some key Bills and for the election of President and Vice-President,” feels Pavan.

Interestingly, TDP led by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has stopped talking about national politics.

“TDP, which played kingmaker in United Front and NDA governments, is surprisingly maintaining silence on national issues. Not even once the party leaders opened their mouths to criticise the Centre,” observed Pavan.

Ever since it lost power to YSRCP in 2019, the TDP has been desperately trying to revive its alliance with the BJP. However, with Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP extending vital support to the Modi government whenever required, the BJP remained cold to Naidu’s overtures.

It was only this month that Naidu could meet BJP leaders Amit Shah and J. P. Nadda to discuss the alliance proposal. After this meeting, Shah and Nadda addressed public meetings in Andhra Pradesh and launched an attack on Jagan government.

With Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh due to be held along with Lok Sabha polls next year, the TDP is becoming active. Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP), which is an ally of BJP, is making efforts to forge TDP-BJP-JSP alliance to prevent split of anti-YSRCP votes.

Due to his political compulsions, Naidu is likely to remain mum on national politics, at least till 2024 elections.

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