TJAC may test political turf in Telangana soon, but dislodging KCR is far from being a cake walk

The Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) that spearheaded the movement for a separate state is now poised to take the political plunge anytime from now. Though the name, ideology and the programme of the new political party led by professor-turned-politician, Kodandaram is yet unclear, it is very much clear that the new political outfit in Telangana will be fighting the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) head on. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his comrade in arms during the statehood movement, Kodandaram have already been vehemently critical of each other making it obvious that the TJAC's political form will be in the anti-KCR bandwagon.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. AFP

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. AFP

The TRS has been openly accusing that Kodandaram is acting at the behest of the opposition Congress and the professor had a clear bias towards the Congress even during the movement. KCR, describing Kodandaram as a nonentity, said that former professor of Osmania University was handpicked by him to head the joint action committee and the latter has no independent role in running the movement. Soft-spoken, yet, sharply critical of the KCR regime, Kodandaram, on the other hand, claims that his new political party is only to fulfil the dreams of martyrs who laid down their lives for achieving a separate state of Telangana. The people of Telangana are yet to achieve the new Telangana which they have fought for, opines the TJAC chief in his interaction with this author. He further alleges that KCR accommodated many of those who bitterly opposed the formation of new state. Leaders who have attacked the Telangana activists and filed cases against them are included even in the cabinet while the true Telangana loyalists were left in the lurch.

Thus, it is very clear that yet another political force will emerge in the new state of Telangana in a frantic bid to dislodge the KCR regime. Yet, it is still not clear whether the new outfit would wish to emerge as an alternative to TRS and Congress or remain in piggyback politics.

Sources in the Congress speaking to this author, however, expressed confidence that Kodandaram will join the party in the electoral struggle to unseat KCR. As of now, the TJAC has been working closely with Congress and other opposition groups on people's issues, though, it is yet to spell out its electoral strategies and it is too early to expect so too.

Will the TJAC after transforming itself into a political outfit repeat the Aam Aadmi party experiment? Arvind Kejriwal was successful in defeating both the Congress and the BJP in the Delhi polls. Leaders in JAC hope to emulate AAP model. But, there are several missing links that makes such a possibility at least remote for now.
The TJAC was a potpourri of different political parties, mass organisations with the TRS occupying the lion's share of its strength. But, with the TRS coming to power, the TJAC is now reduced to people who are either averse to KCR or could not be accommodated in the power apparatus in the new state. During the statehood movement itself, the Congress and the TDP were thrown out of the TJAC. The BJP and the Left parties chalked out their own course of political action subsequent to the bifurcation. KCR has skilfully co-opted most of the civil society activists who were hitherto part of the TJAC into the power parivar. Not just weakening the opposition parties through politics of defection, TRS engineered desertions even within the TJAC too. All this further weakened the TJAC. In fact, speaking to this author, a senior TJAC leader acknowledged that the group cannot hold itself together and KCR will not allow this to happen unless it undergoes metamorphosis as a political party.
Kodandaram in fact, failed to demarcate himself from the politics of TRS during the movement for separate state. The TJAC was more or less working as the allotropic form of TRS and zealously carried out the political agenda of KCR during the movement also. This seriously undermined the independent credentials of TJAC thus consigning it to a crisis of credibility when it assumes anti-KCR avatar.

Meanwhile, nearly four years since bifurcation was a too long period for the TJAC to enter politics. This period saw KCR emerging as an unassailable champion of Telangana cause. The opposition with all its might is finding it difficult to wipe out this iconic image chief minister has among the masses. On the other hand, Congress could consolidate to an extent as the option for those who are disenchanted with KCR rule. As the BJP blows hot and cold about KCR rule, Left parties remain not so important political players, Congress could consolidate its space within the opposition camp. The TJAC did precious little to expose Congress as Kejriwal did in Delhi where he chided both the ruling and the opposition parties. On the contrary, the TJAC gave a perception that it is an extended voice of the Congress. The TRS consummately promoted such a perception. The TJAC failed to counter this. Thus, the opposition space is too crowded for the TJAC to make a real impact. Barring the assertion that it is committed to new and people's Telangana, the TJAC is ineffective in presenting its alternate programmatic agenda for the people to be attracted. However, several leaders inside and outside TRS who are disgruntled with their respective parties may find in TJAC a forum to land on the election eve. But, will this be an asset or liability for the new political party is anyone's guess.

Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 20:28 PM

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