By Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
The triangular musical chairs game between the Telangana Rashtra Samithi Party (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in Telangana is undergoing several twists and turns as the days go by. This comes at a time when the TRS Chief K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) is eying national politics in the future and making large plans to bring all the anti-BJP parties together on one platform before the 2024 general elections.
The ruling BJP at the Centre and the ruling TRS in the State are protesting over the issues plaguing the State and Centre in different ways. In between all this melee, the Congress which is the only Opposition in the State is also protesting against both the Central and the State governments. However one can say that it has hardly made an impact and the Congress is way behind them in this ground game for supremacy.
While the TRS’s long-standing fight against the Centre over the paddy procurement by the Union Government came to the fore, this was temporarily sidelined after the BJP’s stupendous win in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections. After that, the TRS got an opportunity to slam the Central Government's hike in petrol, diesel, and gas prices. Likewise, the BJP raised protests over the hike in the electricity tariff rates in Telangana.
KCR has made it clear to his party leaders that the BJP should not be given any opportunity to rise in the State, though it is doubtful whether the BJP is really in a position to give tough competition to the TRS. But the BJP say they are gaining an edge and according to some party leaders, the turnout has risen from six percent in the past to twenty percent now as per a few political surveys and the surprise win in the GHMC polls. On the other hand, the Congress party, which came in second in the 2019 elections, is also in the hope that they can come to power hopes and retain its votes.
The equations in politics vary and two plus two may not seem like four, it could be more or less. As seen in the past eight years it was a blow hot, blow cold relationship between the BJP and the TRS. After an initial round of praise, KCR now doesn’t wait to seize an opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. This time, KCR has given the clarion call to oust the BJP from the Centre. Though the reason for this criticism against the BJP and the Central government was for a different purpose, that has changed over time. At one point in time, the TRS was hoping that the spilt in the opposition vote would benefit them politically if the BJP rose in power.
But then KCR had larger plans and was stoking up the 'Federal Front' fire and changed his strategy. He went headlong and started opposing the farm laws and the meters for the Agriculture electricity connections promulgated by the Centre, and to be honest this turned out to be unsuccessful. He could have carried it forward on the federal front if not for this strategy.
KCR is quite aware of the repercussions of going against the Centre. He said many times that the Centre would send the CBI or the Enforcement Directorate if necessary against those opposing them. KCR was however left with no choice but to continue what he started and move forward. If the Centre is using its powers to trouble the Telangana Government or attacks him on a personal front, KCR is using its criticism to garner public sympathy. With Union Home Minister Amit Shah focusing on Telangana and trying to defeat the TRS in the upcoming 2024 elections, KCR in the meanwhile is preparing to face the BJP and Congress with the support of the much sought-after Indian elections and politician strategist Prashant Kishore by his side!
So the issue of the paddy procurement of the Yasangi crop was brought back and KCR sent his Ministers to Delhi for talks with the Centre. Taking this matter seriously Union Minister Piyush Goyal seems to have dealt with the state ministers a bit harshly, though. The State ministers alleged that Goyal stated that the Centre would not purchase the rice and that ‘they’ should buy and eat the rice themselves… or buy it when they get back to power. In a few days, the purchase of paddy may become a big problem in Telangana again. Meanwhile, the TRS would again play the blame game and attribute it to the BJP and the Central government and escape from the anti-farmer tag as part of the new strategy. But at the end of the day, this war of words between the BJP and TRS is not going to be of any help for the farmers and they would be the ones at loss.
One cannot fathom why the BJP was attacking Telangana alone leaving out the rest of the States. Despite all this, the BJP is yet to match up to the TRS campaign. Apart from the farmers' issue, the TRS is now cornering the BJP over its response on the categorization of the Scheduled castes and tribes, which the BJP claims that they have not received any note from the State.
Union Minister G Kishan Reddy and State BJP president Bandi Sanjay have to deal with the issue of paddy procurement in a balanced manner by making it look like it’s not the Centre’s fault and at the same time amping up the criticism against the TRS. They also have to deal with rising in petrol and diesel rates which is a constant issue plaguing the Centre and has become a bit of a spot for the BJP. To counter this they have the issue of hike in the electricity charges in Telangana as means to cover up. In this struggle for supremacy, the TRS still has the upper hand. Having state-wide machinery for these parties will come in handy, but the BJP still does not have that kind of cadre at the ground level.
In between these two giants is the Congress party which is making its attempt to stay relevant. On one hand, it is planning a nationwide protest against the hike in petrol and diesel prices. And on the other hand it has to fight the State government over the hike in electricity tariff. TPCC president A Revanth Reddy states that have no intentions of allying with the TRS and that they have a strong presence in the State. He claims that the people attending their meetings is proof of their support.
But Congress has its own headaches to deal with. The internal fighting for supremacy, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy's remarks on the one hand, Jagga Reddy's open criticism of the party leaders sidelining others, and the nitpicking by seniors like V. Hanumanth Rao, reflects the party situation.
The TRS also has its own share of troubles and negative propaganda, especially in rural areas. KCR, which conducts periodic voters surveys to assess the political circumstances, alerts the local leaders and cadre accordingly. Whether the TRS party will win with the split in the votes or if there is any strong Opposition party which can contest against it is something that we can’t speculate right now. If such a situation does not arise then the TRS will have no issues in the future…