Hyderabad, Sep 11 (IANS) The aspirations for a separate Telangana state in the region date back to the days of the erstwhile Nizam’s dominions’ merger into independent India and becoming a part of the Telugu-speaking state of Andhra Pradesh. The many agitations ended up in failure until K Chandrasekhar Rao, popular as KCR, entered the scene with his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001.
Apart from leading the Telangana statehood agitation to its logical conclusion in 2014, KCR also led his party to electoral victory to become the first chief minister of the fledgeling state. Ever since there’s been no looking back for KCR as he went on to return to power with a thumping majority in the 2018 Assembly elections.
Aiming for a third victory at the hustings in 2023, he now stands poised to announce his foray into national politics by offering a non-BJP and non-Congress alternative to the nation.
A single-minded pursuit of his objectives has characterised KCR’s path to political success over the years. Neither does he hesitate to take a detour or change political allies if the decision serves ‘the cause of Telangana’ as he explained on several occasions.
Starting his political career with the Congress, KCR joined the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founded by NT Rama Rao. In April 2001, KCR exited the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP which was at the helm in Andhra Pradesh.
The exit ostensibly came after the TDP supremo put KCR on the back burner. KCR announced the formation of the TRS with the single-point agenda of achieving Telangana state and protecting the interests of its ‘exploited’ people. Despite facing ridicule from several quarters, KCR went about his campaign.
The first big break came when KCR tied up with the YS Rajasekhar Reddy-led Congress party for the 2004 general elections. Apart from helping the Congress storm back to power in Andhra Pradesh after ten years, the alliance helped the UPA unseat the NDA at the Centre. With a tally of five Lok Sabha seats and 26 Assembly seats, these elections helped the TRS shatter the perception of being a marginal player in state politics. KCR was accommodated in the Manmohan Singh cabinet at the Centre.
However, he was frustrated by the Congress party’s apparent disinterest in statehood for Telangana. This period also saw the Congress under chief minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy needle KCR by wooing TRS legislators and leaders. The TRS quit the Congress-led government in Andhra Pradesh in 2006. KCR resigned from the cabinet and the Lok Sabha. He returned to Parliament with a massive majority to prove his point and renewed his efforts to drum up support for Telangana statehood.
In 2009, KCR joined hands with his former boss Chandrababu Naidu and a few other parties, to form the ‘mahakutami’ or non-UPA, non-NDA grand alliance. The ostensible objective was to gain statehood and defeat Congress for betraying his trust.
However, the wily YS Rajasekhar Reddy proved to be more than a match. The Congress literally swept Andhra Pradesh in these general elections and contributed in large measure to the unexpected return of the UPA to power at the Centre for the second consecutive term. Interestingly, almost immediately after polling, KCR cosied up to the NDA which lost to the UPA.
At this point, it seemed that all was lost and looked like the end of the road for KCR. However, the Telangana proponent continued his struggle.
However, the tragic demise of chief minister Rajasekhar Reddy in a helicopter crash, a few months later, reversed the ground situation in Andhra Pradesh. Sensing an opportunity, KCR immediately sprang into action. He embarked on a hunger strike to death for his beloved state. Responding to his call, the people organised themselves into social and caste-based groups and took to the streets.
Meanwhile, a literal blockade of the capital city Hyderabad, and egged on by the opposition BJP, the UPA finally gave in and cleared the statehood demand. The matter was cleared in both Houses of Parliament amidst much drama but finally, Telangana state became a reality on June 2, 2014.
However, if the Congress was looking for an alliance with KCR for the 2014 polls, they were in for a shock. KCR decided to go to the polls on his own and led the TRS victory with 63 seats in the Assembly. Over the next seven years, he virtually decimated the TDP in Telangana and managed to turn the Congress into a shadow of its past stature.
An astute politician who knows which way the wind is blowing, KCR has had a love-hate relationship with the BJP. In his initial term, he was on cordial terms with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the vibes worsened as the BJP began to flex its muscles in Telangana. In recent years KCR has not minced words when it comes to attacking the Prime Minister. “There is an undeclared emergency in the country,” he had famously declared recently.
With the gloves off, KCR has indicated he is seriously preparing for battle in the enemy’s territory. Flying across the country to confabulate with opposition leaders in different states, giving cash support to the families of dead farmers and martyred soldiers, announcing prospective freebies for farmers across the country, KCR is making his presence felt on the national scene.