TRS agenda in Telangana
by Krishnarjun on 29 Aug 2014 2 Comments

The recent drama by the Telangana government to enumerate Telangana residents for the first time raised suspicions about the malicious intent of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leadership in media outside the Telugu-speaking states. The comment of Kavitha, MP, and daughter of K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), comparing Telangana with the accession of Kashmir has put the focus on the nature of the leadership that stoked the separate Telangana agenda for a decade.


This hate-driven inflammatory agenda has been widely reported in the Telugu media, but it took a decade for the Delhi media to take cognizance of the divisive agenda promoted by the TRS leadership. KCR’s rise in Telangana is a direct consequence of divisive forces actively promoted by the UPA regime and its accomplices in the media and opposition in the past decade.


For the past decade, KCR never missed the opportunities provided by the Durbar in New Delhi. A smart speaker who could effectively use colloquial Telugu with Telangana accent in the most provocative manner, he grabbed every opportunity to stoke hatred against “settlers” from Andhra and the region in general. The word “settler” is the new contribution of TRS to the Telugu dictionary. Though rejected in every election preceding the 2014 general election, KCR persevered against all odds with a mix of silence and provocation, as best suited to the situation, for a decade until the big push for a separate state came on a platter from Delhi.


KCR became a hero overnight in the Telangana region. He is now a man of history, a historic liberator of Telangana from Andhra “settlers”. He is very conscious of his larger than life status and his family behaves like the ‘first family’ in Telangana. He reneged on his promise to make a dalit the first chief minister but rightly ditched the Congress durbar that expected a rich political harvest in Telangana. The only thing unexpected for KCR was the absolute majority won by the BJP at the Centre, which has imposed limitations on his dream run in the new state and curbed his megalomania.


In the maiden state elections, KCR’s party could manage a bare majority even after riding on the peak of his achievement; his party won 63/119 seats in Telangana assembly. It could not register victory in Greater Hyderabad region. Out of 24 Assembly seats, the TRS won 3, TDP-BJP combine 14 and MIM 7 seats. The performance of TDP-BJP combo in crucial Hyderabad threatens KCR and his desire to reign in Telangana as supreme saviour for rest of his life. Added to this inconvenience is a strong government in New Delhi under a no-nonsense leader. A puppet dependent on TRS in Delhi would have enabled him to better savour his status in Telangana.


The coming Greater Hyderabad assembly election is the first significant test the TRS leadership would face, given its unimpressive performance in the general election in Hyderabad. It needs MIM support to even think about coming to power in the city local body. In Telangana, there are 30-plus seats where people from Andhra region play a decisive role in victory, almost a quarter of total Assembly seats in Telangana. There is also a proposal to increase the number of assembly seats in both AP and Telangana in the AP Reorganization Act.


The survey by the Telangana government is a foolhardy attempt by a leader who has sensed the potential political fallout of the negative sentiment that exists in Hyderabad against TRS among migrants from Andhra region and other states. All this survey drama is to track caste and region demographics in Telangana to craft a political strategy for TRS and continuously reinforce divisions for political mileage. It is also to provoke the Modi government with pretensions of an independent authority and reinforce the Telangana sentiment in a potential confrontation with the Central Government. KCR also hopes that confrontation with the Modi government would consolidate minority votes for MIM-TRS in Hyderabad region, winning GHMC election is a must for his authority in Telangana.


The political dynamics of Telangana outside Hyderabad is not very encouraging for TRS. He needs to weave a new social coalition. It seems he plans to wean away traditional Congress social coalition away from Reddy leadership with a significant addition of OBCs who traditionally supported TDP in the region. The fact that he could win just a bare majority even at peak sentiment shows fragile political support to TRS. KCR’s social background and his praise for the Nizam reminds the large OBC-dalit Hindu population the exploitation they suffered under the feudal alliance of Nawabs and upper caste Doras (feudal lords) in Telangana.


History is repeating itself in the Telugu region; the situation today is reminiscent of the period after the fall of Kakatiya Empire in the early 14th century. It was the divisions between Telugu feudal castes that broke the grand successful alliance headed by Musunuri nayaks against Muslim invaders to the detriment of Telangana and Telugu region. After Musunuri nayaks defeat the dissenters, Velama nayaks ruled parts of Telangana for a brief period before they lost to invaders and became their feudal vassals. Incidentally, the first Chief Minister of Telangana comes from a Velama background and he also declared Nizams as great benefactors of Telangana!


The only advantage KCR has is lack of leadership in the Opposition. The BJP leadership in the state sees TDP as a bigger enemy in Telangana than TRS. Though it secured just 5 Assembly seats vis-à-vis 15 seats for TDP, the state leadership thinks it lost its non-existent electoral clout because of TDP alliance in Telangana; the party performed very poorly in the local body elections also.


For the GHMC elections, they want to contest without TDP alliance and give much needed breathing space to KCR-MIM in Hyderabad. The state BJP behavior as TRS B-team is well recorded all through the Telangana episode leading to bifurcation of the state. It has to be seen how much they would succeed in their plans to attract Reddy-OBC leadership in the region and become a viable alternative by 2019. The current leadership hasn’t shown any potential so far, though the new BJP national president is very keen on the party’s future in the south and Telangana in particular.


KCR is on a sticky wicket, he cannot drive the agenda in Telangana beyond a point. His divisive tactics without performance on the ground would prove counter productive in a region which has rebelled against oppression with arms at different periods in recent history. It would serve his future political prospectus better if KCR follows a conciliatory approach to all people residing in the state without raising ridiculous arguments and dreaming about a pre-1956 Telangana state with atrocious domicile rules.   

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