Ten 10 days after Telangana voted on April 11, a parliamentarian from Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) met a senior Congress functionary to set the ball rolling.
New Delhi: After calling names and decimating the party in the State, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has now reached out to the Congress, opening a back-channel to explore the possibility of the two parties working together in the event of a hung Parliament.
Hindustan Times, quoting two people familiar with the matter, said approximately 10 days after Telangana voted on April 11, a parliamentarian from Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) met a senior Congress functionary to set the ball rolling. The meeting was confirmed to HT by leaders from both parties who asked not to be named.
The move has surprised many as KCR’s sworn enemy and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, is also in talks with the Congress and the Mahagatbandhan comprising the BSP and SP.
What needs flagging is that the Congress and the TRS are far from being allies and has fought bitterly. KCR has poached almost all the Congress MLAs and top leaders in Telangana and almost finished the party. How local Congress leaders take this move is not dabatable; they are sure to oppose it.
The TRS feels that any coalition at the Centre in which a national party did not participate would be extremely vulnerable, and could fail the way the United Front government did in 1996.
Initially, KCR wanted to form a non-Congress, non-BJP third front. But with lukewarm response from the BSP and SP, he has indicated that it was now open to possibilities with the Congress.
The change of heart came when Naidu opted out of the race for the PM’s post.
Andhra Pradesh sends 25 members to the Lok Sabha and Telangana 17. KCR, who swept the assembly elections in the state last year, is expected to reap a rich haul in the Lok Sabha polls — as is Reddy.
Twenty-one opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in Uttar Pradesh and the Trinamool in West Bengal, are expected to meet in New Delhi between the last day of polling on May 19 and when the results are announced on May 23 to work out the modalities of an alternative front.
There has been speculation about KCR’s feelers to the Congress ever since he called their alliance partner in Karnataka, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular), earlier this week. A JD(S) official, however, said the CM was not keen on being a go-between.
While the Congress has indicated that it is open to all alliances to keep the BJP out of power, a second senior Congress leader said there was a trust deficit between the two parties. He also said that there has been no formal contact between the top leadership of both parties.
Political scientist Neera Chandhoke said KCR’s own non-Congress, non-BJP front won’t work. “Till now , it looks like they were joining the BJP. But others who joined the BJP didn’t fare too well, whether it is Mehbooba Mufti [of the Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir] or Nitish Kumar [Janata Dal (United) in Bihar]. So, KCR is being wary and hedging his bets,” she said.