By tagging 'Jai Bharat' to his 'Jai Telangana' slogan, the Telangana Chief Minister, Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), has brilliantly positioned himself at the altar of the electoral politics of the country to corner all anti-BJP vote in his State to strengthen his party's position.
KCR delivers a masterstroke
The 'what' of this idea's impact would be interesting to watch, but it is essential to understand the 'why' of it. Why is the idea being mooted now by KCR is more important to know.
KCR is fully aware of his limitations as time rolls by and the Damocles sword of elections looms large on his head. He knows that he can neither dream of replicating the 2014 euphoria nor pre-suppose an easy ride to the gaddi.
After all, the Congress is working hard to seize the initiative. There is disenchantment among the farmers. Youth are frustrated over lack of employment. The feel good factor is diminished among all sections.
This is a natural off-shoot and one need not go for nit-picking and point to the failures of the government given the anti-incumbency factor that exists. Moreover, the Telangana sentiment may not be as decisive as it was four years back.
Emotional politics is good for leaders as it translates into quicker benefits. What happens in the absence of such an emotional thread in the elections?
Here is where KCR moved in for the kill and in double-quick time. Just look at the tone and tenor of his brief speeches in the last two days. Reflecting the true federal spirit, he is questioning the Centre on its various schemes and programmes too.
The recently laid to health scheme is one such. Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojana Scheme is another. He is lashing out at the Centre for 'wasting' its precious time and resources on 'State matters'. He is accusing the Centre of retaining all the funds without releasing the same to the State Governments to empower it to protect farmers' interest.
So what should the Centre do according to him? Just retain Defence, External Affairs, National Highways, Railways, Aviation etc and go for devolution of all other portfolios and powers. Hence, according to him, the 'Aayushman Bhava' scheme that is similar to the health schemes in Telangana and which has the potential to boost the BJP chances in the next elections, is unwarranted.
It should not be the job of the Centre to deal with such subjects, he argues now. In fact, he went ahead and asked "why is it the job of the PM to lay village roads? Is this what he is supposed to do" while mocking the programme.
KCR has had his surveys done and is sure where he is lacking in taking on the opposition. There is a perception that a section of the bureaucracy and a section of the Cabinet along with a good number of MLAs have grossly failed in delivering the goods. In an era of perception politics, this is dangerous to any ruling party.
And he is seeking to ensure smooth transfer of his power to his ward, KT Rama Rao, a capable and proven leader in his own right. For that to happen he has to move over to the national capital. An alternative formation is the right choice. Secondly, there is a void in the national politics with the Congress receding in stature and command.
The Opposition is not united and there is no single leader acceptable to everyone in the country. The Left is in disarray with serious differences within the CPM too. BJP allies like the TDP, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have started attacking the BJP over its 'unilateral and dictatorial' politics.
The AIMIM, which has been with KCR all along, has hailed the move. The TMC would not have any objection to joining hands with the TRS. Upcoming politicians like Kamal Hasan and other Dravidian parties too would gladly join forces with KCR in his anti-Centre campaign.
The perception is that the Centre is trying to impose not just its political ideology but also Hindi on non-Hindi speaking States is gaining traction faster. South in general is a good hunting ground for KCR now. He is raking up weightier issues like federal justice, Constitutional provisions and the Preamble. There is nothing to it that one finds objectionable or irrelevant in this discourse.
It is now up to KCR to build his argument around this stand of his and raise the political heat. If he succeeds in carving out a strong front even in half a dozen States he will pose a credible challenge to the BJP in the next hustings in the major States. Marginalised sections, dalits, minorities and liberal voices are seeking a proper political channelisation and KCR could offer them one.
By W Chandrakanth