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Monday, August 15, 2022

Driver’s seat or no ride at all: Why KCR is staying away from Opposition’s Presidential talks

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s invitation to non-BJP parties for a meeting to discuss the presidential elections appears to have upset KCR's plans. For, he sees himself in that role

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: June 15, 2022 4:14:33 pm
Sources say KCR did not anticipate that Banerjee would take the lead in the presidential talks while he sees himself in that role. (Photo: Twitter/@TelanganaCMO)

Of late, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has rarely missed a chance to portray himself in a national role, as the pivot around which other non-BJP, non-Congress parties could position themselves. But now, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter to 22 political parties, inviting them for a meeting to discuss the presidential elections, appears to have upset his plans.

While KCR is not attending the meeting in Delhi on Wednesday, he has not deployed a minister or senior party leader either. Sources say KCR did not anticipate that Banerjee would take the lead in the presidential talks while he sees himself in that role.

The Congress’s presence at the meeting is another reason why KCR is staying away – the party is the principal Opposition party in the state and, despite the BJP’s rising influence, is a force in Telangana. KCR wouldn’t, therefore, want to be seen sharing the stage with his principal opponent in the state.

Party sources said the CM was particularly upset at Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the state government when he visited last month to address a public meeting at Warangal. “I want to ask the people of Telangana what they got from the TRS government. Widows of farmers who committed suicide due to the negligence of this government are sitting here with me. What can I tell them… only that this will not happen under the Congress rule,” he said.

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The sources said KCR also disapproves of the manner in which the parties are “trying to prop up” a Presidential candidate. “The candidate should have been consulted first,’’ a party leader said.

Either way, KCR’s stand is a marked departure from less than a month ago, when he had embarked on a tour to meet several political leaders in an effort to forge an “alternative agenda”. Buoyed by their chief’s enthusiasm, TRS leaders had even suggested renaming the party, with Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti (BRS) as one of the options floated.

Over the last few months, KCR has met JD(S) chief Deve Gowda, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, DMK’s M K Stalin, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Shibu and Hemant Soren, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and RJD’s Tejaswi Prasad Yadav. Earlier, he had met Mamta Banerjee, and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, Pinarayi Vijayan, Manik Sarkar and D Raja, among others.

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KCR has, however, gone quiet since returning to Hyderabad late last month after his tour. Former Member of Parliament and political analyst Arun Kumar Vundavalli, who met KCR on Sunday, said the CM did not talk about launching a national party during their six-hour meeting. The CM has also been frequently holding talks with political analyst Prashant Kishor.

Party sources, however, say KCR has not stopped working on his idea.

“The CM is holding discussions not only with political leaders but is also brainstorming with people from various sections of the society and backgrounds like economists and policy makers. He is doing this to understand and gain an insight into what needs to be done to fulfil his vision of forming a non-NDA, non-UPA alliance,’’ a party leader said.

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First published on: 15-06-2022 at 04:09:18 pm

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