Operation Aakarsh, The politics of opportunism is pervading the political landscape of the two Telugu states. The victims are different. The...
The politics of defection has not begun with TRS nor would it come to an end with it. TRS chief himself claimed that his party does not represent any remarkable departure from the prevailing political culture. He even asserted that TRS no longer represents a movement and that it has transformed itself into an entity similar to any other political party. But such an assertion cannot be treated as a virtue in itself. In a frantic bid to strengthen itself at any cost, TRS sees no limits to political expediency.
Even the bitter critics of KCR now find a pride of place in TRS. The classic example was that of Konda family. The Konda couple led a fierce battle against the Telangana movement. But, these authors of the infamous Mahabubabad episode today decorate the ranks of TRS leadership. The latest such illustration is the induction of Talasani Srinivasa Yadav.
He was an ardent supporter of united Andhra Pradesh. He publicly expressed his opposition to the separate state demand. He steadfastly stood firm on his stand even when many TDP leaders willy-nilly joined the Telangana bandwagon. The TRS is now eager to admit anyone and everyone into its fold regardless of their commitment to the Telangana cause. The operational definition for loyalty to Telangana cause is now being reframed. Anyone who owes his or her allegiance to the leadership of KCR is considered a Telangana loyalist.
The civil society organisations that spearheaded the movement for Telangana state were unequivocal in their support for TRS. They are now conspicuously silent when Telangana sentiment is diluted with such brazenness. The moot point is how it is possible to herald a new Telangana with such a degenerative political culture. The paradigm shift in Telangana development is not possible without any shift in the ruling political culture.
The over decade-long history of TRS is replete with examples of internal dissention often engineered by political adversaries. In fact, TRS at one point of time witnessed even existential threat when YS Rajasekhara Reddy unleashed a virulent campaign to destabilise the opposition. Even KCR faced a serious challenge to his leadership many a time as the party and the movement passed through many vicissitudes. The supporters of KCR thus call his orchestrated campaign against opposition is an acknowledgement of the political reality based on his own personal experience in Telangana politics. The critics have completely another explanation to offer in regard to the KCR onslaught on opposition.
This explanation goes as follows. Chandrashekar Rao has a clear majority even before this Operation Aakarsh. But, he suffers from an underlying sense of insecurity. He wants to install his son KT Rama Rao as his political heir. Obviously, such a move would incur the wrath of yet an another influential section of TRS led by Harish Rao. The opposition would certainly be ready for any such eventuality. KCR wants to accomplish two tasks simultaneously with this Operation Aakarsh. First, this would increase the TRS tally to a level which would be comfortable enough to face any possible internal political crisis in the wake of naming his successor. It would also disarm the opposition, thus incapacitating it from causing any such threat to TRS.
However, the immediate provocation for letting loose this operation is the strategy to capture the civic polls in the state capital. The TRS is politically uncomfortable with the social and political composition of Hyderabad. In fact, the party even kept itself away from the civic polls last time citing unconvincing reasons. Now sitting in the seat of power in the state, the TRS would find itself in a dizzy situation if it fails to perform well in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections which are round the corner.
The impressive performance of TDP-BJP combine in Hyderbad during the recent general elections further perplexes the ruling party. The hawkish stand taken by TRS government on many contentious issues has further consolidated anti-TRS sentiment in the Seemandhra people who constitute a major segment of the city populace. The TRS plans to win this election by adopting a dual strategy. This strategy comprises Operation Aakarsh and tactical understanding with the MIM.
The political history has no conclusive proof to suggest that such a strategy would always yield a positive result. Despite repeated poaching by Congress, the TRS managed to come to power given the political context after the formation of new state. Mere entry and exit of leaders need not change the balance of forces at the grassroots level.
There are limitations to the Operation Aakarsh. The gap between the new entrants and the old leaders may result in internal discontent and dissent. The cabinet reshuffle and the distribution of nominated posts in future would bring to the fore these cracks. The Congress and the BJP are not extremely vulnerable to the political engineering by the ruling party. The increasing presence of imported leaders would undermine the very personality of TRS which was propelled by sentiment. These leaders joined the TRS more out of convenience than conviction.
The chemistry may change once the government invites anti-incumbency. The success of the TRS strategy driven by political short-sightedness and perceived compulsions would largely depend on the performance of KCR government and the individual legislators who now join the party.