Updated: January 12, 2022 6:27:56 pm
On Tuesday, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had an unlikely visitor — Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, who flew in to Hyderabad with a team of his party leaders. The meeting, which comes a week after CPI(M) and CPI leaders met KCR, and a month after KCR met his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin, sparked off speculation about the formation of a possible Third Front ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and the Telangana CM’s role in such an alliance.
While TRS leaders said nothing much should be read into Tejashwi’s meeting with KCR, they admitted that a clearer picture would emerge after the outcome of the upcoming elections in five states.
— Telangana CMO (@TelanganaCMO) January 11, 2022
Prior to the 2019 elections, KCR had explored a role for himself in national politics, and had talked about forming a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance comprising regional parties. KCR had reached out to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik and TMC chief Mamta Banejree in a bid to forge a Third Front. Making his intentions clear, he had then said that “a Third Front is necessary to ignite a change in governance”.
Expressing his intention and ambition to take a leadership role at the national level he had said: “The people of this country are looking for a qualitative change in governance and in the society. In the last 70 years, the political system, whether ruled by Congress or BJP, has failed to deliver, has failed miserably to bring a qualitative change in the lives of the people. The country is now desperate for a qualitative change in politics.’’
However, he shelved the idea after the NDA’s decisive win in the elections that year. But, of late, he has become increasingly vocal against the BJP at the Centre. His MPs had disrupted Parliament’s Winter Session proceedings over the paddy procurement issue, and the party, which has on many occasions sided with the BJP government and backed it on crucial Bills, including the farm laws, was even part of an Opposition joint statement condemning the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs.
Yet, KCR himself hasn’t, since the 2019 Lok Sabha results, spoken about his national ambitions. But he set off a buzz when on December 14 last year, he called on Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, amidst the paddy row. It was described as a “courtesy call” as KCR was visiting the Rangantha Swamy temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, and decided to pay Stalin a visit. TRS leaders maintained that since the families of both the CMs were also present, politics wasn’t discussed.
Last Friday, top leaders of the CPI and CPM also paid a visit to the Telangana CM, and they reportedly discussed the formation of a secular front to counter the BJP. None of the TRS leaders were willing to talk about the meetings.
While the CPM leaders — including national general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, former Tripura CM Manik Sarkar, and politburo members B Krishnan and Ramachandran Pillai — were in Hyderabad to attend a three-day central committee meeting, the CPI leaders, led by general secretary D Raja, were in the city to participate in the national convention of the All India Youth Federation. While CMO officials again described these as “courtesy visits”, Yechury, however, said the Left will tie-up with any party that is against the BJP.
The TRS leadership is also watching the TMC’s foray out of West Bengal, especially in BJP-ruled Goa.
In is in this context that RJD leader Tejashwi’s visit is seen as significant. The Bihar Leader of Opposition arrived on a special flight with former RJD minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui, former MLC Sunil Singh, and former MLA Bhola Yadav.
While CMO officials called this too a “courtesy visit”, Yadav is learnt to be exploring if regional parties can form an alliance ahead of the 2024 polls.
When asked about the agenda of the meeting, Bhola Yadav told The Indian Express, “When two leaders of major parties meet, obviously the political situation in the country is discussed. This meeting was long overdue, both leaders felt they should meet each other. There was no discussion of forming any front or alliance. If necessary, we will meet again to discuss that later.”
Senior TRS leader B Vinod Kumar said too much should not be read into the meeting.
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