Telangana Chief Minister and TRS supremo, K Chandrasekhara Rao, is yet again rising in revolt against the BJP post-Huzurabad debacle. Though it is not new for KCR to vent his anger against the BJP, the tone and tenor of a tirade against BJP and the Modi government has certainly fuelled political speculation on the possible strategies of the pink party boss. An astute politician in KCR does not embark upon any political crusade without sufficient reason behind it.
The immediate political interpretation is that KCR is roaring against the saffron brigade as he is frustrated with the unprecedented defeat in the hands of his once own comrade Eatala Rajender in Huzurabad. KCR moved heaven and earth to defeat his estranged colleague to quell any possible future dissidence. Despite launching high profile Dalit Bandhu scheme and using all the tricks in the political book, TRS failed to retain the seat. Though the party leadership tries to dismiss the electoral reversal as inconsequential, the fact remains is that the Huzurabad win has given the BJP a massive morale boost. The Huzurabad defeat coming close on the heels of a similar drubbing in Dubbak and later in GHMC polls has rendered sleepless nights to the pink brigade.
Notwithstanding such a massive embarrassment at the hustings, KCR, a warrior of many battles is unlikely to be dampened by such a bruise. Defeat is not new to him. During the hay days of the Telangana movement, KCR suffered reversals in the by-elections which he invited.
Thus the high decibel outburst on BJP is deeply embedded in the consummate political strategy of the TRS chief. KCR in a bid to decimate opposition has dealt a body blow to congress by encouraging massive defections. The grand old party lost many of its elected representatives to TRS in this operation Aakash. But, contrary to his expectations, the opposition space vacated by congress is increasingly being filled by the BJP. The saffron party has a better muscular presence in terms of men and material so vital for winning the elections. Therefore, the party that is at power in the center is no comparison with the party that lost power in both places.
Thus, KCR is facing more serious opposition in the form of the BJP. Eatala Rajender shifted his loyalties to BJP in this political context. The smart move of Rajender has yielded him a rich dividend as his calculations proved to be correct. Thus, Rajender has the potential to be the cynosure of dissidence within TRS and opposition outside the party.
KCR with his sudden acrimony towards BJP focusing primarily on the state party chief Bandi Sanjay could successfully remove the Huzurabad outcome from the public discourse and marginalize Eatala Rajender from the big political screen of Telangana. The recent past has seen exchanges between TRS leaders and Bandi Sanjay as Eatala Rajender's voice remains largely muted. Latter's victory in KCR vs. Eatala fight is relegated to the back seat. Thus, the KCR's recent anti-BJP show seems to be a clever attempt by KCR to effect a paradigm shift in the political and public discourse of the state. Otherwise, Huzurabad would have been a galvanizing factor in the anti-KCR political jamboree.
The elevation of Revanth Reddy as PCC chief has given a new lease of life to congress, at least in the popular imagination whether or not will it translate into votes and seats for the congress in future polls. Revanth Reddy with a series of political activities such as Dalit-Adivasidandora, unemployed Jung siren has brought greater visibility for the congress. His pungent criticism of KCR was an added advantage for Revanth Reddy. Revanth Reddy could compete with Bandi Sanjay in anti-KCR war cry and at times dominated too. Despite the decimation of Congress in the by-poll, Revanth Reddy continues to make the right noises.
KCR could also eclipse Revanth by shifting the focus to BJP and the Modi government. Congress seems to be caught confused as TRS; BJP is engaged in a verbal duel. The party has to contend with the criticism that both the parties are colluded in enacting what it called a drama.
TRS was catapulted to power in 2014, thanks to the Telangana sentiment. The congress failed to capitalize on the fact that the central government led by it has delivered the separate state of Telangana that was the long pending demand of the people of this region for decades. The TRS lacked sufficient electoral and organizational machinery to win the elections in 2014. But, Telangana sentiment helped it to trounce the congress and keep BJP at bay. Both the national parties are vital for realizing the dream of the people of Telangana for a separate state.
But, sentiment alone will not sustain political supremacy. The BJP could make a dent in the TRS strongholds. The party has begun its electoral uptick by winning four Lok Sabha seats including three in northern Telangana, considered as TRS bastion. KCR's daughter K Kavitha's defeat came as a big surprise for the TRS. The saffron party continued the momentum by winning Dubbak and now in Huzurabad besides substantially gaining in the GHMC polls. The weakening of Congress has given an advantage to the BJP to claim to be the real challenger for the TRS. Modi's charisma helped the party to counter KCR's image, though no state BJP leader is a match to the personal popularity of the chief minister.
KCR seems to be relying again on Telangana sentiment to fight yet another national party. Thus, the issue of paddy purchases came in handy for the TRS.
However, KCR's inconsistency in fighting BJP remains his Achilles heel. His occasional talk of the federal front and his somersault on-farm laws amply illustrate this. KCR is known to rake up anti –BJP issues during or after elections with long intervals of strategic silence. One has to wait and see whether KCR treads a similar pattern this time or continues his BJP bashing.