“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” — This principle of Sun Tzu in The Art of War perfectly describes the secret behind the success of Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), the unchallenged supremo of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Chief Minister of Telangana, who might not have seen in the sweetest of his dreams that he would be called “CM garu” ever.
More so, because he worked in a party – the Telugu Desam - that is controlled by a family in which only its members are allowed to vie with one another amongst themselves for the top job and outsiders always remain in the penumbra, never getting to the nucleus.
When KCR chose to break ranks with the Telugu Desam Party in 2001, little did he know that he is going to replicate a similar political ‘solar system’ in a region that would eventually secede from Andhra Pradesh and regain its original form. The TRS is about to fight a united opposition in a by-election in Khammam district, where it is currently celebrating its 15th Foundation Day and Plenary. KCR’s son and IT Minister KT Rama Rao told Firstpost that the unity “shows the weakness of the Opposition that they have chosen to come together to take on the TRS. Ultimately, in a democracy, people’s will shall prevail" and that they are confident about having the "blessings of the people."
KCR has grown from being yesteryear’s formidable leader to an invincible supremo of Telangana. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary and plenary session of the TRS, here are five reasons that gave him the numero uno position in Telangana politics, despite the numerous negative shades that surround his Government.
KCR is a very effective communicator. His clarity of thought and expression are unmatchable. His loquacious lectures on a wide spectrum of subjects in at least four languages – Telugu English, Hindi and Urdu – perk him up above others in the game of throne. Another natural advantage KCR is bestowed with is the articulation of his politically precocious son KT Rama Rao, daughter K Kavita and nephew T Harish Rao, the virtual power centres in the TRS today. The troika and the Chief Minister together are called the Big 4.
Striking the right chord
KCR, who essentially played the sentiment card and stoked rebellion against Andhra region during the 13-year-long agitation and called literally every strong leader, including Sonia Gandhi, names, changed the tack slowly and took to “impress-all” politics after ascending to power. The man, who was seen as drunk with power when he had said people who had settled in Telangana before 1 November 1956 (the formation day of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh) would only be treated as locals, endeared himself to all those migrated from Andhra by announcing that he would remove” the thorn in the heel of any Andhra brother in Telangana with his tooth’ (meaning he would go to any extent to help Andhra people in Telangana). Obliging the invite of his former boss, Chandrababu Naidu, and participating in the foundation laying ceremony of the AP capital Amaravati too brought him closer to the hearts of the migrant population in Hyderabad.
Perfecting the art of war
KCR knows his enemies so well that he prioritised them and prepared a bucket list on who should be attacked first. He chose the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), his alma mater, first. He began to inveigle the legislators of the TDP into his fold. He conducted the operation in both Houses of the legislature simultaneously. While emptying the TDP, he also let the Congress, the YSR Congress and the BSP MLAs to don the pink scarf and join the ranks of the TRS. The #CashForVote scam impaled the top echelons of the TDP and became a powerful weapon in the hands of the TRS to debilitate its arch rival. This also “brought” peace between KCR and Chandrababu Naidu for “obvious reasons”. However, KCR proved a point by “finishing off” the TDP, which boasts of strong cadre across Telangana, including the State Capital, in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in which the TDP got one out of 150 seats. His preaching of humility to the rank and file of the party naturally heightened the prestige of the TRS in the public eye. The act of trampling the Congress and the BJP was incidental for him. He somehow made the BJP develop a soft corner for himself, albeit on the sly. Conduct of Ayutha Chandi Yagam is one such effort not only to propitiate the gods, but to impress those who matter.
Understanding right governance
KCR’s administrative acumen speaks volumes of what he learned being in the ruling party. He is in grips with every subject concerning people and governance. His choice of bureaucrats and constant interactions with people’s representatives and officials gave him the extra advantage of taking decisions with finality. A lesson he apparently learnt in his journey so far as the Chief Minister is not to make impulsive statements and thinking aloud on all the projects that his government is contemplating. For instance, he considered shifting the State secretariat to multiple locations – once to Government Chest Hospital, once to Hi-Tec City, once to Parade Grounds. Now there is no such talk. After this “funny” thought process, he seemed to have learned the art of administration, though the unabated farmers’ suicides are staring at the KCR government.
Attracting industry, addressing issues
KCR’s diligent moves in attracting the IT majors to set up Asia’s largest offices in Hyderabad added a feather in the cap of the TRS Government. However, the Government has the responsibility to ensure that these large corporations do not shy away from the City owing to water crisis, though the shortage of electricity could be addressed without any hassle. KCR is, however, appearing to have been making an effort to seriously address the challenges posed by water crisis by working on schemes like “Mission Kakatiya” (cleansing of tanks) and ‘Mission Bhageeratha” (drinking water grid) and redesigning of irrigation projects. This is kindling hopes among people.
At a time when personality cult and emotion play a key role in any general election, the opposition parties in Telangana neither have a tall political personality to match KCR’s stature, nor can they find an issue that can strike a sentimental cord with the people.