K Chandrashekar Rao is the first of the regional satraps to make his move for 2019
The mammoth rally on Sunday by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) on the outskirts of Hyderabad where the party supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) effectively blew the bugle for the Assembly election, which he is likely to call a few months early by December 2018 and the subsequent 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Quite apart from local political considerations, it is abundantly clear that KCR, the shrewd politician that he is, does not want the Assembly poll to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha election. Of the regional leaders likely to play a major role in Government-formation at the Centre after the forthcoming General Election, KCR has been the prime mover. Remember, it was he who first reached out to Mamata Banerjee to float the idea of a ‘Federal Front’ and he has since been claiming equidistance from both BJP and Congress. Also, unlike, say, MK Stalin, who last week used his anointment as DMK chief to lash out at the BJP as it has become under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, KCR while playing to regional sentiments with his rallying cry of ‘we will not be slaves to the Delhi Empire was careful to not specify the constituents of that ‘empire’. Essentially, he was telling the party faithful that whoever rules in Delhi will have to deal with the TRS — ‘Delhi (read major national) parties’ is what he railed against and there were, at last count, at least two of them — the BJP and the Congress.
KCR has made his move. His opening gambit, as it were, exhibits a wariness about the popularity of Modi which still outstrips that of his party and Government, which is why KCR wants the Assembly election to be held ahead of schedule in which the political discourse and election campaign will be around his tenure at the first Chief Minister of Telangana, which he feels will deliver results given the slew of populist measures he has implemented. His boast that of the 56 poll promises he has made the TRS Government has delivered on all of them while ensuring Telangana has the highest economic growth at 17 per cent of all Indian States in 2018-19. This feel-good factor, as it were, needs to capitalised on, is the assessment. Holding the State poll along with Lok Sabha election as scheduled would also open up the possibility of the Modi-effect influencing the voting pattern for the Assembly too. Secondly, KCR knows that for independent-minded regional parties like the TRS in Telangana or BJD in Odisha, it makes no sense whatsoever to cast their lot with either the BJP or the Congress in a pre-poll arrangement. The idea is to win the Assembly election, maximise gains in the Lok Sabha and only then look up to see who is in pole position to form the next Government at the Centre and whether they can do business with them. But the unstated preference of both these parties is certainly for an Opposition coalition ideally not headed by the Congress which is also a major rival at the State-level.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer