Tuesday 28 June 2022
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KCR Better Placed Than Pawar, Banerjee To Forge Opposition Unity

KCR or K Chandrashekar Rao has Telangana to showcase while he does not cause aversion in the minds of the pan-India crowd, unlike Mamata Banerjee

Date:

Vinod Kumar Shukla
Vinod Kumar Shuklahttps://www.sirfnews.com/
Senior journalist and political commentator

To take on the Narendra Modi juggernaut, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) has initiated a campaign to unite the opposition parties of the country. He is visiting leaders of opposition political parties by taking up every issue with them from alleged compromise of federalism to the poor state of affairs of farmers. He is also discussing the alternative with these leaders by giving examples of his state. Though KCR started his campaign when he had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray last month, he intensified his efforts now by meeting every possible opposition leader with a clear message that he would unite regional satraps to dislodge the BJP-led union government.

But many such attempts, with the way Rao is charting out his plan, were made in the past. They proved utter failures. But KCR not only has better acceptability but also better communication skill sets with leaders and people alike. But why now, as the general election will be held in 2024? The reason is simple. He apparently wants to measure in the short term how his plan works out in the presidential election that will be completed before 24 July so he can re-strategise for the August vice-presidential election and 2024 general election.

Meanwhile, the BJP is silently getting ready with its plan for the presidential elections to get its candidate sail through despite having short of approximately 9,000 votes. A stiff challenge to the BJP is likely to be posed by the parties led by some of the most bitter critiques of Prime Minister Narendra Modi like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, former Dy Chief Minister of Bihar Tejaswi Yadav and Janata Dal (S) chief and former Prime Minister of India HD Deve Gowda by joining hands with the Chief Minister. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister will certainly not go against these leaders as he too does not get along with the Centre.

Attempts are being made by the chief minister to surprise the BJP if not by defeating the party’s presidential candidate, then by making the victory margin as thin as possible. This will boost the opposition’s morale to fight against the BJP’s Hindutva plank with their secularism in the direct elections in 2024. The biggest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha — the Indian National Congress (INC) — is not only busy keeping its house in order but statements made by its former president Rahul Gandhi quite often annoy regional leaders as they sometimes sound arrogant, which becomes detrimental to the opposition unity, with the INC being part of it. So no one can really make out what the priorities of the INC as a political party are. Interestingly, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik already indicated to go with the NDA in the presidential election but they are non-committal with anyone for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

KCR has already met Pawar, Thackeray, Kejriwal and Akhilesh and is likely to meet Mamata Banerjee, leaders and JD(S) leaders very soon. Something is certainly cooking between Bihar Chief Minister and leadership and if Nitish Kumar switches sides with the RJD, the BJP will certainly be in a fix. Nitish Kumar is known for cashing in on such a situation. He is a hard bargainer and will try to reap the maximum benefit out of this. Actually, Nitish will not settle for any offer less than that of being president of the country while the NDA is not ready to offer more than a vice-presidential candidacy to him. There is a kind of breakdown between the BJP and JD(U) in Bihar, with the union minister from JDU(U) quota, RCP Singh, aligning with the BJP, which has already annoyed Nitish. The BJP is eyeing Congress votes in Bihar for the presidential election, which is most vulnerable.

Pawar and Banerjee want to pull down Modi from the seat of power and the presidential election could be the beginning of a well-coordinated attempt. But opposition is as fragmented as ever. The DMK will certainly go against the NDA and will jump on the opposition bandwagon for its candidate if they are able to zero in on a name. Banerjee is very strong, aggressive and ambitious but incoherent and unpredictable. She does not enjoy an appeal across the country. In such a situation, KCR has given a new lease of life to opposition unity. Moreover, he delivered in his state in just eight years of his reins in Telangana.

KCR has an edge over other regional satraps with his good communication skills laced with Deccani Urdu and secular credentials. He has the advantage of communicating easily in the north Indian states. With a strong Muslim support base of his own and AIMIM as its ally, he is trying to become a unifying factor. The leader that never stepped out of the electoral territory beyond is now looking for an all India role. He is trying to project his success story, especially the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project that has turned a dry Telangana into an irrigated state at the investment of Rs 1.20 lakh crore. He is providing Rs 10,000 annually to farmers. This has resulted in Telangana becoming the largest grain producing state in the country after Punjab. There are many minority-centric schemes that have made him popular in the state. He is showcasing all such issues to opposition leaders as an instrument to challenge Modi. He wants to take his success story, which is not even a decade old, to the entire country. Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and the condition of the parent state is still dismal. But a section of people in Telangana says that the BJP has made huge inroads in Telangana, making KCR panic, so his all-India plan is a reaction to the BJP in Telangana.

If KCR succeeds in his plans and is able to take along the rest of the opposition parties, it will start showing results during the run-up to the presidential polls. But among the various regional satraps, he is the only leader who has the quality to take the opposition together besides experience to fight tough political battles. He is a product of agitation politics who forced the INC to create just before the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Political churning in a month’s time will reveal what politics unfolds. If KCR has his way or Modi stumps the opposition once again.

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