KCR, Gandhis share bitter equation rooted in the birth of Telangana

By Mohammed Shafeeq Hyderabad, March 19 : The leadership of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which recently rechristened itself as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), never felt comfortable with the Congress party or Gandhi family. The Gandhi family has not forgiven TRS founder and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) for allegedly going back on his word to merge TRS with the Congress if it carves out Telangana State. After the Parliament passed Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, KCR along with his family members had called on then Congress president Sonia Gandhi to thank her. The Congress leaders had expected that after the meeting, KCR will announce the merger of his party with the Congress. However, KCR decided to maintain a separate identity of TRS to work for building Telangana. The bitterness between the two parties has only increased since then. After winning the 2014 elections with a simple majority to form the first government in Telangana, KCR lured top leaders from both the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to join TRS. Several Congress legislators defected to the TRS soon after the 2014 elections. Despite retaining power in 2018 with a thumping majority in 119-member Assembly, TRS continued to woo MLAs from Congress. The grand old party lost a dozen MLAs to TRS in 2019 and also the status of main opposition party in the Assembly. Nearly nine years after formation of Telangana State, the Congress party still appears clueless to regain the lost ground in its former stronghold. Reeling under defections of several leaders and legislators and humiliating defeats in by-elections, the party looks to be in disarray. Infighting and lack of any charismatic figure have added to the woes of the grand old party. Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi brought some enthusiasm to lift the spirit of demoralized cadre and the state Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy is trying to keep the momentum with ongoing padyatra as part of Hath Se Hath Jodo campaign but the party faces big odds in 2023 Assembly polls. The Congress party faces the biggest challenge to its survival as BJP appears to have occupied the space of principal contestant for ruling BRS. In both 2014 and 2018, the Congress party was the main rival for BRS but this time the party may face the next polls even without this status. Political observers say that in the narrative of BRS versus BJP built by the saffron party, Congress party may face the going tough. In 2014, the Congress party could win 22 seats while it was a disaster in 2018. It could win just 19 seats, though it had forged electoral alliance with the TDP, the Left parties and some smaller parties. When KCR first mooted the idea of a national alternative in 2018, he was targeting both BJP and Congress, blaming them for the problems faced by the country. This stand was not in sync with other regional parties who see BJP as the number one enemy and were not averse to joining hands with the Congress. After apparently failing to unite the regional parties for a third alternative, KCR recently turned TRS into BRS to expand the party to other states. The BRS continues to see Congress as its opponent in Telangana. A bitter war of words between the leaders of the two parties had been continuing for several years. On one occasion, KCR had dubbed Rahul Gandhi as the 'biggest buffoon' in the country. "Everyone knows what Rahul Gandhi is??the biggest buffoon in the country. The whole country has seen how he went and hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament and winked," KCR had said. Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Telangana last year had lambasted KCR and called him a 'king' who shattered the dreams of people of Telangana. The Congress leader had also ruled out any alliance with the TRS. KCR's party had ridiculed Rahul Gandhi and asked him who wants to join hands with the Congress party. On Rahul Gandhi's appeal to people of Telangana to give one chance to Congress, KCR's son K.T. Rama Rao had remarked that people gave Congress 10 chances but it ruined the state and the country. He had also ridiculed 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'. "The Congress failed to play its role as the principal Opposition party and also protect itself from the BJP. Instead of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', Rahul Gandhi should take up 'Congress Jodo' exercise before it is too late. There is no guarantee that the Congress can survive after the 2024 elections," KTR had said. During Bharat Jodo Yatra in Telangana, Rahul Gandhi had made fun of TRS becoming BRS. "If the chief minister of Telangana believes that he is running a national party that is perfectly okay. There is no problem, he can believe it. That is also fine if he is running a global party," Rahul had taunted. Hitting back at the Congress leader, KTR had mockingly called him an international leader and wannabe PM. He reminded the Congress leader that he had lost his own parliamentary seat (Amethi) in the elections. "International leader Rahul Gandhi who can't even win his own parliament seat in Amethi ridicules Telangana CM KCR's national party ambition. Wannabe PM should first convince his people to elect him as an MP," KTR had said. /IANS


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