Rahul-Chandrababu Tango: An Opportunistic Alliance Or A Historic Need?

Rahul Gandhi, Chandrababu Naidu - Sakshi Post

K Ramachandra Murthy

The election camapaign in Telangana State has reached the last lap with only a couple of days left for the curtains to come down. The chances of the Congress party forming the next government have suddenly brightened with the inclusion of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the alliance. The confidence levels in the Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS) have reportedly come down as a result of the Congress-TDP tie-up. When TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) got the assembly dissolved to facilitate early polls, political observers predicted that the ruling party would surely retain power with a comfortable majority. KCR himself said his party would bag not less than a hundred seats. The Congress at that time was not perceived as a force to reckon with. TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had taken the initiative of meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and proposing to fight Telangana elections together. Chandrababu thought it would be a test case in his endeavour to form an anti-BJP alliance at the national level aimed at unseating Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rahul is aware that his party is starved of funds and it lacks a winning strategy for Telangana. The Congress president grabbed the opportunity and accepted Chandrababu’s proposal not withstanding the rivalry between the two party for more than three and half decades. Both Rahul and Chandrababu said at the outset that they are acutely aware that they were fighting against each other till then and have deliberately decided to join hands in order to ‘save’ the country and democracy from the clutches of Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. Chandrababu called it a historic necessity to join hands with Rahul whose mother was described by the former as Italian Godse and mafia earlier. The AP chief minister exhorted at the meeting that the Congress had deceived the people of AP and it should be buried.

3 Ms brought by Chandrababu

Chandrababu brought three Ms with him into the alliance. The Congress was not prepared to spend money in the elections on par with the ruling TRS. It had no media support at all. There are no leaders in the Congress in Telangana who can match KCR in the skills of management and manipulation. Chandrababu brought money, media and management (or manipulative) skills with him. There were some negative points for the Congress that came along with Chandrababu. Those sections that were traditionally supporting the Congress and opposing Chandrababu and his TDP for decades found it difficult to digest the opportunistic alliance between the established rivals. It is easy for the top leaders to forget and forgive, but the political leaders at district and village levels who were involved in clashes and court cases could not reconcile to the patch up. Moreover, Chandrababu Naidu is perceived as working against Telangana in order to safeguard the interests of AP. This factor was taken advantage of by KCR and his young and articulate lieutenants, son K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) and nephew Harish Rao. The TDP chief had sent his trusted colleague Revanth Reddy to the Congress months before the dissolution of the Assembly. Revanth, who is one of the accused in ‘Vote for Note’ case, is eloquent and bold enough to take on KCR. Taking the cue from Rahul Gandhi, the State leaders had fallen in line treating Chandrababu Naidu as philosopher and guide.

Historic meeting

The first meeting addressed by Rahul and Chandrababu from the same dais was held at Khammam, headquarters of a district bordering AP, last week. Bhatti Vikramarka, TPCC working president, who presided over the public meeting, recalled the name of Seelam Siddha Reddy, a former irrigation minister, but did not mention the names of former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and former chief minister Jalagam Vengal Rao. The services of late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy who brought the Congress back to power after a gap of ten years and who won 33 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 elections for the Congress were not recalled. The AP CM boasted that he was responsible for the development in united AP and claimed that he made Hyderabad an IT destination while Rahul was smiling and nodding in approval. This did not go well with the Reddy community that largely supported the Congress. Rahul and Chandrababu flew together to Hyderabad from Khammam to participate in roadshows at the end of which a meeting was organised. This meeting was presided over by L Ramana, TTDP president, who praised Chandrababu to the skies. The TDP chief himself repeated the tall claims about building cyberabad and Shamshabad airport. It was clear that both needed each other. The TDP requires the Congress platform at the national level to build an alternative alliance to the NDA and Rahul needs a pushy and experienced person like Chandrababu who is prepared to help Congress win Telangana elections and also to strive to bring recalcitrant leaders like Mayawati into the alliance headed by the Congress. It is a win-win situation for them. But, will Chandrababu Naidu succeed in getting the Congress into power in Telangana? Not likely. TRS is slated to win more than 65 seats according to political observers.

Mind games

However, not one to give up, Chandrababu Naidu started the campaign in right earnest. He has his own ways of winning elections. A mind game was launched as soon as the TDP chief took over the proceedings in Telangana. Lagadapati Rajagopal, former MP who became rather notorious when he used pepper spray in Lok Sabha on the eve of passage of AP Bifurcation Bill, joined hands with Chandrababu in mobilising public opinion in favour of the alliance. Chandrababu, Rajagopal, TPCC chief Captain Uttam Kumar Reddy and a media owner had a meeting the other day at the AP CM’s residence and decided to float a rumour that the alliance is going to win so that the neutral voters could be influenced. Rajagopal has a reputation of predicting the outcome of the elections accurately. He was proved right in a number of elections since 2004. He has his own outfit called ‘RG Flash Team’ which organises opinion polls and exit polls. With his business empire in doldrums, Rajagopal is desperate to get the PPAs with the AP government for his power stations renewed. In anticipation of the renewal of PPAs, Rajagopal is trying to help Chandrababu for whom a win in Telangana would be a much-needed morale booster to face his adversary YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, chief of YSRCP and the Opposition leader in AP, who has been attracting huge crowds in his walkathon. According to sources, while the survey conducted by RG Flash Team concluded that the TRS would get about 70 seats, Rajagopal is reversing the result and claiming that the alliance is going to win the same number of seats. KCR derisively referred to Rajagopal’s prediction in his address at a public meeting at Secunderabad Parade Grounds on Sunday. The Telangana chief minister has been addressing eight meetings a day and at every meeting was asking the audience to decide whether they prefer KCR or Chandrababu to rule the State. This strategy is likely to tilt the balance in favour of the ruling party. While the poll will be held in Telangana along with Rajasthan on the December 7, the counting is scheduled for December 11 when the suspense would end. People of not only Telangana and Andhra Pradesh but all over the country wait with bated breath for the results since they are going to give a clue to the outcome of the general elections in 2019.

Also Read: If Chandrababu Built Hyderabad, Should Quli Qutub Shah Commit Suicide?: KCR

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