Also in the race is old warhorse Deve Gowda.
While the race for prime minister’s chair after the general elections is heating up in the North, there are challenges emerging from the South. In the race are Chandrasekhar Rao, Chandrababu Naidu and, possibly, old warhorse Deve Gowda.
If the BJP is not able to secure a clear mandate in the 2019 elections, there will be a grouping of major opposition parties to keep the saffron brigade and Narendra Modi away. While names of Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are doing the rounds as possible candidate, Telangana state Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda from Karnataka are likely to emerge as strong contenders for the Prime Minister’s post from South.
The plan in the Telugu Desam and Telangana Rashtra Samiti is that the sons of Naidu and KCR would take over the reins of their respective states. Both Naidu and KCR are under pressure from their parties to play a national role and make their sons as Chief Ministers of the respective states.
This, in a way, is the second wave of ‘Atma Gouravam’ (Self Pride) that the late NTR had championed for Telugu-speaking population.
According to sources in political circles, both BJP and Congress may not get majority seats and regional parties will play key roles in all the states. In Telangana State, there are 17 Lok Sabha seats and in AP 25 Lok Sabha seats. In the previous elections TRS won 11 seats and TD won 16 seats (15 in AP and 1 in TS).
Both parties are hoping that they can retain the same number and perhaps also get more, according to Deccan Chronicle. In the past Naidu was not keen on becoming the PM as he will be under pressure from other parties in the coalition. He also held the view that if he took the PM’s post but lost his position after one year, he would be known as ‘former PM’ and then he would not be able to hold the CM’s post again thereby marking the end to his political career.
But this time, Naidu is a different man. He may not refuse to take the PM post, Chronicle quoted a senior TD leader.
But the case of KCR is different. There are speculations that Rao is getting close and soft towards BJP. But after 2019 elections he may change his stance, depending on the outcome of Lok Sabha results. If the PM post is offered to the south, KCR will also become a strong contender, said a senior TRS leader. Moreover, he is averse to giving the PM post to Naidu, his arch rival.
Deve Gowda from Karnataka is an old warhorse and may emerge as a dark horse post 2019 elections. He is widely respected among all political parties and is experienced in handling top opposition leaders in Delhi. Moreover, he is eyeing the PM chair to help his beleaguered son HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka who is battling the Congress and BJP.
Though the Congress has said that the AICC president Rahul Gandhi was its prime ministerial candidate, the party has changed its stand. In the churning that is happening among the Opposition parties, the Congress has decided to sacrifice claiming the PM post to defeat the BJP at the Centre.
Though West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said she is not interested in the PM’s post, one cannot rule out her chances. She is seen playing a key role in the formation of the Federal Front with all regional parties in an aim to defeat the BJP.