YS Jagan-KTR Meeting: A Pointer To Winds Of Change

TRS Working President KT Rama Rao ,YRSCP Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy - Sakshi Post

K. Ramachandra Murthy

Two days before the Kolkata mega show planned by Mamata Banerjee, president of Trinamool Congress, is scheduled to take place to showcase herself as the leading light of the Opposition, the leaders of YSRCP and the TRS met at Jagan Mohan Reddy’s Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad on Wednesday to take the proposal of forming a Federal Front (FF) forward. It was the first ever structured meeting between YSRCP and TRS leaders. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) had initiated the idea of FF in March 2018 when he met Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata to discuss his idea of keeping both the national parties, the Congress and the BJP, away to form a third front. It would comprise regional parties which are expected to work in tandem to revive the federal spirit in the country. Preliminary talks were held at a luncheon meeting between President of YSRCP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Working President of TRS, K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR), KCR’s son. About half a dozen leaders from each side participated in the deliberations. KCR had telephoned Reddy before and after KTR met him. It was at the behest of KCR that the meeting took place. Both the young leaders discussed various issues for more than 90 minutes.

Speaking to media persons after the meeting, KTR said KCR has been trying to bring about a qualitative change in Indian politics. The Telangana chief minister discussed the proposal to float a Federal Front with like-minded leaders. The discussion with YSRCP leaders is in continuation of that process. KCR would go to Andhra Pradesh for further discussions with Jagan Mohan Reddy in this regard at a later date. The AP Leader of Opposition spoke about the injustice meted out to the people of AP by denying the Special Category Status (SCS) promised by the then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the time of the passage of AP Reorganisation Bill in Rajya Sabha in early 2014. The BJP-led NDA government did not honour the commitment given by the UPA dispensation. The Centre, instead, offered a financial package which was gratefully accepted by AP Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu (CBN) who after four years of intimate friendship with the BJP made a U-turn and started flaying Prime Minister Narendra Modi for denying SCS.

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has been waging a relentless battle for SCS for years, said if the 25 MPs from AP and 17 from Telangana joined hands and demanded SCS, it will surely carry more weight. If the Federal Front gathers more parties, it will have a higher number of MPs who would support the SCS demand. KTR said the chief minister of Telangana had already stated that he has no objection if the special status is given to AP. In fact, he offered to write to the prime minister asking him to deliver on the promise. Leader of TRS in Rajya Sabha K Kesava Rao and TRS MP in Lok Sabha K Kavitha also declared on the floor of the parliament that they will have no issue if the SCS is granted to AP. It is not just about special status or Andhra Pradesh and Telangana--this is only an example. States can collectively fight for their rights and also sort out problems among themselves like the Cauvery dispute. KCR was talking about a new political culture to be evolved in the country so that the real problems faced by the people can be resolved. He said his idea is not just to unite some opposition parties, but it is going to be involving farmers’ organisations, rights organisations and many others. It is a coalition of ideas, he remarked, though this is rather vague. One can only understand creation of another alliance or coalition to compete with and replace the UPA and NDA.

Talks with Opposition Leaders

KCR had met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, President of DMK Stalin, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumara Swamy, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and Ajit Jogi of Chhattishgarh. While they discussed the proposal in detail, the formation of the front is yet to take place. The third front is expected to be a non-BJP and non-Congress entity with a purpose of keeping both the national parties away since they allegedly ruined the democratic institutions and kept all the powers with them while in office. The FF would fight for decentralisation of powers and for more respect to the state’s autonomy in real terms. In order to promote the idea of FF, KCR had recently undertaken a series of visits to states culminating in Delhi where he met most of the Opposition leaders. Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav could not make it to Delhi at that time. He promised to travel to Hyderabad for a meeting with KCR.

The parallel initiative taken by Chandrababu Naidu to strengthen the United Progressive Front (UPA) in pursuit of which he too travelled across the country and met a number of Opposition leaders did not go well this time. Mayawati, president of Bahujan Samaj Party and Akhilesh Yadav avoided meeting Chandrababu Naidu in his latest trip to Delhi. Mamata Banerjee has her own ambitions and reservations. She did not endorse Stalin’s statement that Rahul Gandhi, Congress president, is a suitable candidate for the post of prime minister. Naveen Patnaik, unassuming and sensible, subsequently declared that he would maintain equal distance from the BJP and the Congress.

The UP players have not been very enthusiastic about the UPA. The SP and BSP came together less than a week ago. RLD led by Ajit Singh is also likely to join the gathbandhan. But the Congress has been kept out, though Mayawati and Akhilesh decided not to put up candidates in Amethi and Raebareli constituencies. Thus, they both want to be independent of the Congress and the BJP. There are two alliances-NDA led by the BJP and the UPA led by the Congress-which have been ruling the country uninterruptedly for more than two decades since 1998. KCR’s idea is gathering momentum while CBN’s proposal does not have many takers. Consultations with YSRCP would help KCR in projecting FF more vigorously. The luncheon will be of use to the YSRCP in rubbishing the campaign that Jagan Mohan Reddy has a secret understanding with Modi. KCR’s best friend is supposed to be Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief and a known Modi critic. This would assuage the Muslims in AP that the YSRCP president is in good company. To that extent, the exercise undertaken by the two young leaders of AP and TS is win-win as long as it does not exceed the limits.

Can FF Form Govt In Delhi?

Would the FF be able to form a government at the Centre on its own or will it have to take the support of the BJP, like VP Singh’s National Front government did or the backing of the Congress as the governments led by Charan Singh, Chandrasekhar, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral did? Uttar Pradesh(80), West Bengal (42), Karnataka (28), Andhra Pradesh(25),Odisha (21) and Telangana (17), the states where KCR has friends, have 213 MP seats among themselves. If Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav can be considered a friend of Akhilesh and the total number of seats in Bihar can be counted, the tally would be 253. The FF will be able to win more than 65-70 percent of these seats. If Sharad Pawar (Maharashtra-48) and Stalin ( Tamil Nadu-39) are prepared to part company with the Congress after the elections and join FF, it would stand in the first place having more MPs than the NDA and UPA. Even then, it may fall short of a simple majority. It will have to depend on a big player like the BJP or the Congress. Then, stability is not assured. It is not a desirable scenario.

Jagan and KTR were very sensible in their remarks before the media. They did not talk about the AP elections or the part to be played by KCR. Nor did they indulge in speculation about the FF forming a government at the Centre. They were very brief, confining themselves to FF and the need for strengthening federal forces. Though Telangana MLA and former minister Talasani Srinivasa Yadav was talking loosely at Vijayawada and Eluru, where he went to watch a cockfight, about the ‘return gift’ KCR had promised to give to CBN, the two young leaders did not utter a word about the so- called gift or CBN. Within minutes after the media briefing was over, AP Minister for Irrigation Devineni Umamaheswara Rao alleged that the ‘pact’ between the YSRCP and the TRS is unprincipled. He asked Jagan Mohan Reddy to explain why he is friends with TRS which had filed a number of cases in courts against Polavaram Project and which has been creating hurdles in sharing the assets under the 10th Schedule. The AP minister has conveniently forgotten that his boss, CBN, was begging for an alliance with the TRS before striking a deal with the Congress in Telangana elections. CBN and his ministers will go on spreading rumours and concocted stories as they did during 2014 elections. They have a separate, huge network to do the dirty job.

Outside Help Not Needed

Observers say it is better for the YSRCP not to get close to TRS for the simple reason that the TDP would use all the forces at its command to propagate stories about a tie-up between the YSRCP and the TRS that is not there. The ruling party has the expertise to mislead the public by spreading derogatory stories aimed at defaming Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party through the friendly and indulgent media and social media which is operated by an army of animated followers of the TDP. The Wednesday meeting was meant only to consider the possibilities of forming a FF at national level. Answering a question regarding future plans, Jagan said they would like to take one step at a time. In the recent elections to Telangana assembly, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) entered into an alliance with its born enemy, the Congress, but its plans came a cropper.

One of the reasons for the resounding victory registered by the TRS was the campaign by KCR asking the people to choose between him and CBN who foolishly participated in a number of election meetings in Hyderabad. CBN is likely to pay back in the same coin by taking advantage of perceived intimacy between YSRCP and TRS by blaming Jagan Mohan Reddy for ‘colluding’ with the enemy of Andhra people. KCR will be well advised not to get involved in AP elections and mind his own business in Telangana. Even if a FF is formed, it has relevance only at the national level and it has nothing to do with AP elections. Jagan Mohan Reddy, fresh from a historic 3,650 km walkathon, does not need any outside help to oust CBN and the TDP from power. He can do it single-handedly. And he knows it too well. By the way, the conclave being organised by Mamata on the 19th is not likely to be a great success with many Opposition leaders opting out for various reasons.

Also Read: KCR’s Initiative To Create A National Platform Commendable: YS Jagan


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