Hyderabad, Aug 5: On a day when leaders of opposition parties including Congress president Rahul Gandhi joined RJD in a massive protest at Jantar Mantar over the rapes at a shelter home in Bihar, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief’s second meeting with Modi in less than two months has triggered speculations of a secret understanding between TRS and BJP. This comes amid the stepped up efforts by Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to forge a grand alliance of non-BJP opposition parties.
Though officially it was stated that KCR’s meeting was to take up various pending issues with the PM, the context in which it was held left no one in doubt.
According to political observers in the recent past there have been indications of TRS warming up to BJP. TRS also abstained from voting on no-confidence motion moved by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Parliament last month. Modi too reciprocated by praising KCR during the debate on no-confidence motion.
While criticising TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, Modi lauded KCR for focussing on development. This praise did not go unnoticed by the political pundits.
KCR had already gone slow on his plans to form a federal front as an alternative to both BJP and Congress. With many parties not showing their inclination to join hands with him for a front which excludes Congress, KCR had started weighing his options for 2019 elections.
With Congress being their number one enemy, TRS leaders ruled out being part of any formation that includes Congress. They alleged that Mamata Banerjee hijacked the front, whose idea was first floated by KCR in March this year.
During the meeting with Modi on August 4, KCR reportedly thanked him for praising him during his speech in Lok Sabha. The two discussed the political developments in the context of efforts by the opposition parties to unite and the change in the state of Congress party, which is now ready to accept leader from any opposition party as the prime minister. This stand of Congress party is being seen as a master stroke to bring all non-BJP forces together. However, the party also appears to have already admitted that it will not have the required numbers to claim the PM’s post.
With TDP also pulling out of NDA, KCR saw an opportunity to join hands with BJP. While a formal alliance between TRS and BJP may not happen, they will have a secret understanding. He understood to have urged Modi to go soft on TRS in the run-up to the polls and in return promised to extend support to BJP-led NDA in the post-poll scenario.
Telangana sends 17 members to Lok Sabha. If TRS wins majority of these seats, it’s support will be crucial in the event of 2019 polls throwing a hung House. KCR also assured Modi that TRS will facilitating re-election of five BJP MLAs and one MP by fielding weak candidates. In turn, he also extracted assurance from Modi that the Centre would take steps to address the long pending issues of the state, especially bifurcation of high court and handing over defence land in Secunderabad for building new secretariat.
Since TRS is believed to have support of Muslim community and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) being its friendly party, KCR conveyed to Modi his inability to enter into a pre-poll alliance with BJP. He, however, assured him that he would maintain liaison with some other regional parties to get their support in the event of NDA falling short of numbers to form the government.
The bonhomie between KCR and Modi is not new. The TRS was among the first regional party to support the Modi governments’ demonetisation move and back NDA’s presidential candidate.
On several occasions, the TRS chief lauded Modi for taking bold decisions like demonetisation. Despite the bitter attack by BJP chief Amit Shah on TRS and KCR family during his visit, KCR did not allow this to affect his rapport with Modi.
TRS leaders hope that KCR will have an active and crucial role at the Centre after 2019 elections. The understanding with BJP may also help him to ensure smooth ascension of his son KTR.