Eyeing a national role, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao will take off on a whirlwind tour aboard a chartered plane to meet regional party leaders in an attempt to forge a Third Front ahead of the 2019 elections.
Besides regional party chiefs such as Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Naveen Patnaik, KCR will also meet heads of Dalit, Muslim and Christian organisations and farmers’ associations. The chartered flight, being hired by his party Telangana Rashtra Samiti, will also stop over at a few religious sites.
After the landslide victory on December 11, KCR had announced he would soon float a “non-Congress, non-BJP” national consortium of regional parties.
“The visit to Visakhapatnam is purely to offer special prayers in the Rajashyamala temple at Sharada Peetham. He has no plans to meet any Andhra party leader there. Any meeting there will be coincidental,’’ a party leader said. Prominent Kapu community leader Mudragada Padmanabham may meet KCR during his day-long stay at Visakhapatnam on December 23, he said.
The Chief Minister, his wife, and daughter K Kavitha, who is an MP from Nizamabad, will depart from Begumpet airport on December 23 morning. At Visakhapatnam, KCR will also seek the blessings of Swami Swarupanandendra Swamiji and have lunch at the Ashram.
In his victory speech, KCR had said TRS would also foray into Andhra Pradesh by supporting local parties there during the assembly elections. This move is essentially a counter to N Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party contested in Telangana and campaigned for the Congress-TDP alliance. KCR’s ally, the AIMIM led by Asaduddin Owaisi, has already announced they would contest the elections in Andhra Pradesh.
TRS leaders were tight-lipped whether KCR would meet Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, president of YSRCP, and K Pavan Kalyan of Jana Sena Party. On December 23 evening, KCR will land in Bhubaneswar and drive down to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s residence. Sources said that KCR considers Patnaik, the chief of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) a key partner in the proposed national front.
KCR will stay the night at the Odisha CM’s official residence. He is scheduled to visit the Konark Temple and the Puri Jagannath Temple the next day before flying to Kolkata.
In Kolkata, KCR will call on West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. After the meeting, he will visit the Kalimata temple, and leave for New Delhi. KCR plans to spend three days in New Delhi. On December 25, he is likely to meet BSP chief Mayawati, and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav. KCR also intends to meet other regional and small party leaders from various states who may be present in the national capital.
“The CM will also make a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his stay. He is likely to meet several Union Ministers to raise issues concerning Telangana. He will also call on the Central Election Commissioner,” a party leader said.