Hyderabad, May 3 (IANS) Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who made his national ambitions amply clear by rechristening the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), is likely to back his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar’s initiative for opposition unity but may not agree for a dominant role for the Congress.
The BRS always took a stand of equi-distance from the BJP and Congress, but there are indications that the party may not be averse to join an opposition alliance with Congress as a constituent as it sees the BJP as “enemy number one”.
However, the BRS leadership is learnt to have conveyed its objection to Rahul Gandhi being projected as the face of opposition.
Nitish Kumar, who already held meetings with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, is yet to hold talks with KCR.
However, BRS working president K T. Rama Rao says that KCR is in regular touch with Nitish Kumar and leaders of other regional parties.
Speculations have been rife in political circles for the last few months on whether Nitish Kumar will be acceptable to KCR in case the Bihar leader emerges as the opposition candidate for the Prime Minister’s post.
KCR had visited Bihar on August 31, 2022 and met Nitish Kumar and his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.
The BRS chief discussed with them his idea of a third opposition to challenge the BJP.
KCR’s visit was in the backdrop of Nitish Kumar’s split with the NDA and amid renewed efforts for a united opposition.
At a joint press conference which KCR addressed with Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav, the BRS leader was asked about Nitish Kumar being a potential challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024.
“Nitish ji is one of the best and most senior leaders in the country. I am not the one to make a decision. It will be decided when all opposition parties sit together,” KCR had said.
The news conference also saw some embarrassing moments for KCR when Nitish Kumar got up to leave as he was miffed at questions being asked on the opposition candidate for the Prime Minister’s post. Despite repeated requests by KCR to resume his seat, Nitish Kumar did not relent.
This visit by KCR was before TRS became BRS.
At the maiden public meeting of BRS held at Khammam in January, KCR shared the dais with his counterparts from Kerala (Pinarayi Vijayan), Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal), Punjab (Bhagwant Mann), as well as Akhilesh Yadav and Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary D. Raja.
There were speculations that Nitish Kumar was not invited to the public meeting.
When asked about this, the Bihar Chief Minister said that he was busy with some engagements in the state and did not know about KCR’s rally.
It remains to be seen if Nitish Kumar visits Telangana to meet KCR as part of his renewed attempts to forge the opposition unity ahead of 2024 general elections.
After a recent visit to Delhi, where he met leaders of various parties, including the Congress, Nitish Kumar had said he would be talking to other regional parties, including the BRS, to forge an opposition alliance.
With the Assembly elections in Telangana scheduled later this year, the BRS would not like to be seen rubbing shoulders with the party.
The BRS stayed away from the meeting of 16 opposition leaders held in March in the chamber of Congress president Kharge, at Parliament House, citing the Congress’ criticism of KCR.
The party was unhappy over unwarranted comments against the BRS and KCR by Congress leaders during their frequent visits to Telangana.
KCR’s son KTR categorically stated that the BRS will not ally with either the Congress or the BJP in future under any circumstances, adding that both the parties have failed miserably in putting the state and the country on the growth trajectory.
He also dismissed reports of any differences with leaders of regional parties. He claimed that KCR is in regular touch with Nitish Kumar and other regional leaders.
Political analysts say that while BRS may publicly deny any plans for friendship with Congress, it may finally sail with Nitish Kumar and others who want to take Congress party along in putting up a united fight against BJP.
KCR is reported to be for a more accomodating stance vis-a-vis Congress keeping in view the the fact that all regional parties and Congress are being targeted by the Modi government by misuse of central agencies.
KCR’s daughter and state legislator K. Kavitha is facing an Enforcement Directorate probe in connection with the Delhi excise policy scam case.
KCR may sail with Nitish for Oppn unity, but not ready to accept Rahul