KCR calls for non-Congress, non-BJP regime: Assembly Elections 2018, TRS' political past show how unlikely this is

After TRS' landslide victory in Telangana, KCR called for a 'BJP-mukt' and 'Congress-mukt' India. Saying that his political experiment at the national level was not an alignment of political parties, KCR said he would pitch for a policy-based alternative.

Even as three north Indian states voted for Congress governments, KCR is hopeful of a non-Congress, non-BJP regime in Delhi in 2019. On the contrary, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart is making a hard bid for rallying the regional and smaller parties under the Congress-led conglomeration.

The difference in the strategy is not ideological but more to do with political compulsions in the respective states. While Naidu wishes to embrace Congress to make an incremental addition to his votes after estrangement with BJP and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena, KCR has Congress as his main rival with BJP getting decimated.

File image of Telanagana chief minister and TRS president K Chandrashekar Rao. PTI

File image of Telanagana chief minister and TRS president K Chandrashekar Rao. PTI

Though KCR is yet to make a detailed statement for his plans at the national level, he did make certain points to substantiate his national ambitions. He came out strongly against the Centre's 'stranglehold' on states. "Why should central government control a primary school and a hospital and what crops a farmer should grow in my state?" he said. Thus, KCR raised the demand for stronger federalism, asking Centre to concentrate on dealing with Pakistan or utilising the unused resources with public sector undertakings and with the RBI.

KCR is not the first to raise such concerns. Earlier, the Left parties, Shiromani Akali Dal and even TDP fought for radical restructuring of Centre-state relations. Only time will tell whether KCR's remarks will get the nation's attention.

On the other hand, KCR remained silent when Opposition parties raised concerns over the 15th Finance Commission's pro-Centre terms of reference. He has even kept himself away from the south Indian chief ministers' joint effort to voice the discrimination meted out to south Indian states, which were at the forefront of population control in the revised terms of reference that take 2011 census as the reference point.

Yet another issue strongly raised by KCR was the agrarian crisis. He was referring to unused water potential and the exploitation of farmers. But, surprisingly enough, he was not part of the recent famers' march to Delhi that received the support of all Opposition parties.

However, KCR believes that the pro-farmer initiatives of his government, like Rs 8000 per acre per year capital support to farmers, Rs 5 lakh insurance etc will give him the credibility to pitch for the farmers' agenda. However, it cannot be ignored that the farmers of Telangana are also fighting for remunerative prices in KCR's regime too.

The fact remains that the non-Congress, non-BJP parties have not been implementing policies that are radically different from that of the governments run by national parties.

KCR's claim that he is not for alignment of parties but for uniting the people on an alternate national agenda sounds fine, but governments are formed by alignment of parties with or without an alternative agenda. Therefore, KCR has to clarify on the possible combination of parties that would herald an altogether different policy agenda for the nation.

Congress winning three Hindi states and defeating the BJP in a more or less direct contest further narrows the scope for any national political platform comprising regional or smaller parties independent of Congress and the BJP. BSP, Ajit Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, despite making their presence felt, could not stall Congress coming to power in Chhattisgarh.

The recent round of Assembly elections further reinforced the point that regional and smaller parties continue to play a critical role in India's political spectrum. But the possibility of  a non-Congress, non-BJP combination emerging in New Delhi is almost an impossible task before the 2019 polls and even prospects of forming such a combination free from national parties looks grim, even post-2019.

The TRS displayed remarkable pusillanimity in the past with regard to associating with parties at the Centre. TRS was part of the first UPA government for some time. It contested against Congress in 2009 without aligning with the BJP. The Left and TDP were part of the Mahakutami along with TRS in 2009. Surprisingly, even before the votes were counted in 2009, KCR attended BJP's outreach meet amidst speculation that the saffron party may oust the UPA.

However, with the UPA retaining power, KCR did not look towards the BJP. His daughter and MP from Nizamabad once even expressed willingness to join the Modi-led NDA government if there is any such invitation from the prime minister. However, nothing of that sort fructified as both the BJP and the TRS felt that any bonhomie between the two would only benefit Congress in the Assembly elections. Given this history, it is difficult to believe the non-Congress, non-BJP talk by the TRS supremo.

There are even apprehensions expressed by the non-BJP parties that KCR is doing so to benefit BJP and harm his principal foe, the Congress as more and more regional parties may gravitate towards the latter in the wake of impressive electoral wins it registered in north India. His selective parleys with those who allied or would like to be allied with Congress gives further credence to such apprehensions.

The run-up to 2019 will see KCR's political play. Any such progress in his national political episode would only give more clarity on what exactly he intends to do so and which party would be the ultimate beneficiary.

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2018 19:10:42 IST

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