For now, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao appears to be the only tall leader who counts in the newly carved out state from Andhra Pradesh. Through his journey as the leader of the new state and his ‘family-owned and operated party’ Telangana Rashtra Samiti, that strengthened itself by poaching from the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party, KCR as he is known, has seemingly no alternative in the state. His popularity too is at a high as also he went into a freebie distributing spell – to woo every section of the voter – and he naturally wants to cash in on the benefits of his largesse.
All this is the PR spiel his spin doctors have unleashed in the state. But, KCR clearly knows that during the course of the past four years or so he may have slipped on fulfilling poll promises. Besides, like everyone else the Telangana chief minister is also aware of the growing disenchantment of the people over the central government rule.
Already, there is a general perception that KCR, who has been on friendly terms with the central government, could be a potential ally for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the post-poll scenario should the need arise. But to be able to do that, KCR must win and win big, in the state as well as the Lok Sabha general elections that in due course are to be held simultaneously.
But, as per the thinking of the TRS chief, articulated by his actions, policies and programmes as also from the utterances from the party rank and file, KCR could advance the polls in the state. Most probably to be held alongside elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that are slated to be held before December this year.
Clearly, KCR is in favour of going to polls for assembly first and Lok Sabha later. The logic behind this thinking, as his senior party colleagues point out is that during simultaneous elections the issues get merged as also the big two personalities – Prime Minister Modi and Congress I president Rahul Gandhi – would be dominating the election scene and the campaign will be billed as Modi versus Rahul, leaving KCR pinned down to his state politics and concentrating on retaining power in the state.
But if he manages to separate state elections, then the elections would be all about himself and his policies and programmes, which his supporters think will benefit the TRS immensely. But most important, by advancing polls, KCR will be cutting short the preparation time for the Congress that is showing signs of revival. Moreover, there are possibilities of the opposition getting together.
Indications to this effect were coming from the Congress. Recently, Rahul Gandhi received a thunderous response to his tour. Also, at present, KCR is the tallest leader in the state and he can make the assembly elections almost presidential and pose a question KCR versus who.
Another reason KCR is trying to advance polls is if the Congress does well in three states that are to go to polls, the party would be on an upswing and it could spill over in Telangana too in the state elections if held at the scheduled time, along with the Lok Sabha elections.
KCR knows that he cannot afford to give any chance and more important, time, to the Congress to revive itself or come to an understanding with other political parties. Why, the Congress and the TDP could also have been behind the scenes understanding to halt KCR, who is playing the Modi game. In fact, KCR had displayed his national ambitions when he went calling on Mamata Banerjee and other Opposition leaders trying to form a federal front minus the Congress. But his efforts in this direction appear not to have gone much distance.
For now, his focus appears to be on Telangana. Locally, the BJP is not too big a player and would want to humour KCR for future use in case of a hung Parliament. So, the party may not oppose early polls in the state.
Contesting the Lok Sabha elections separately will give KCR an opportunity to concentrate on winning maximum number of seats of the total 17 and make a play in national politics if a situation so arose for him to get into national prominence.