Hyderabad, July 2: The decision of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to support Ramnath Kovind as the presidential candidate of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was not surprising given the good rapport its chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao has with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the speed with which it declared its support soon after BJP parliamentary board announced his candidature was baffling and triggered speculations on the deal struck by TRS with the BJP-led NDA for its support.
The day when BJP named Kovind, KCR’s son and cabinet minister K. T. Rama Rao was in Delhi, meeting central ministers including M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Officially, TRS chief maintained that Modi telephoned him and requested his support for the candidature.
“As per your suggestion we have decided upon a Dalit candidate for the Presidential post,” a statement from the Chief Minister’s office quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
The statement also said KCR consulted TRS party leaders before taking the decision to back NDA candidate.
With nearly 23,000 votes in the electoral college for presidential election, TRS is considered as one of the kingmakers.
The TRS is seen as friendly to the Centre and KCR has had good relations with Modi over last three years. He was the first non-BJP chief minister to support Modi’s demonetisation move.
The party’s decision to vote for NDA candidate was despite the bitterness caused by BJP President Amit Shah’s remarks during his visit to Telangana in May.
Shah’s claim that the Centre provided Rs.1 lakh crore to Telangana in three years and that TRS government failed to reach benefits of central schemes to people had evoked angry reaction from KCR, who had dared him to prove his claim or apologise to people of Telangana.
Following, Shah’s visit BJP’s state leaders had become aggressive in their attacks on TRS government over its ‘failures’ . They had also launched a scathing attack on the government over land scam in Hyderabad and demanded resignation of TRS general secretary K. Keshava Rao for allegedly buying land from one of the men allegedly involved in scam.
Soon after TRS’ decision to back Kovind, the BJP leaders have become silent over land scam. Political observers believe that KCR bought their silence in return for the support in presidential elections.
By dealing directly with Modi, the TRS chief conveyed a clear message to Amit Shah and his other critics in BJP that he is not bothered about them.
Support to NDA candidate is also seen as a calculated move by KCR to check Congress party. This shows that for TRS, Congress remains the enemy number one.
However, Congress and the Left parties are targeting KCR for supporting a man known for his links with RSS.
Senior Congress leader and former union minister S. Jaipal Reddy has accused KCR of having secret understanding with Modi. He claimed that TRS extended his support to NDA even before the latter choose its candidate.
“KCR is ideologically a BJP supporter,” he said and demanded that the TRS chief explain to people why he is supporting NDA candidate.
State Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy asked TRS to review its decision on supporting Kovind. He alleged that Kovind has a history os speaking against Muslims, Christians and other minorities.
Congress leader said that the entire country would be in danger if a person with communal mindset gains control of Rashtrapati Bhavan.