Banking on Telangana growth model, KCR looks to influence national politics

 

by IANS | Sat, Dec 24, 2022, 12:14 PM

Hyderabad, Dec 24 (IANS) The year 2022 saw the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) opening a new chapter in its 20-year-old history as it rechristened itself as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) with the party supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao eyeing a key role in national politics.

With the formal launch of BRS and the recent opening of its central office in New Delhi, the party is gearing up to expand its activities to different parts of the country.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, will be projecting the Telangana development model to the rest of the country and present his vision to replicate the same in other states.

The coming year will determine to what extent it will influence national politics but a lot will depend on the outcome of the Assembly elections in Telangana scheduled towards the end of 2023.

If KCR leads the party to a third consecutive term in power and becomes the first leader in South India to score a hat-trick, it is likely to bolster the chances of the BRS establishing itself as a force in some other states ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

From a leader who led the movement and achieved statehood for Telangana to becoming the first chief minister of India's youngest state and winning a second term in power, the 68-year-old is now looking to set a new record and don the mantle of a national leader.

While launching the BRS, KCR gave the slogan of "ab ki baar kisan sarkar", thus hinting that farmers and agriculture will be at the core of his party's strategy as it looks to make inroads in other states.

As part of his efforts to emerge as a national leader, the BRS chief distributed compensation of Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of the farmers killed during the movement against the three farm laws of the Centre. The Telangana cabinet approved Rs 22.50 crore for distribution among the families of the 750 farmers killed during a 13-month-long stir.

On every occasion, the BRS chief highlights the innovative schemes under implementation in Telangana for development of agriculture and the welfare of farmers. He has predicted that a non-BJP government will come to power at the Centre and that it will provide free electricity to farmers across the country.

Claiming that Telangana is the only state in the country supplying 24 hours free electricity to farmers, KCR has already announced that when a non-BJP government comes to power at the Centre, this will be extended to the entire country.

KCR has also been highlighting two other major schemes - Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Beema. Under Rythu Bandhu, the government is providing investment support of Rs 10,000 per acre every year irrespective of the extent of land owned by a farmer while under Rythu Beema it is providing compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of a farmer after his death whatever may be the cause of death.

The BRS leader has also been highlighting how Telangana achieved tremendous progress in eight years.

Telangana's Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) more than doubled to Rs 11.55 lakh crore while the per capita income increased to Rs 2.75 lakh in 2022 from Rs 1.24 lakh in 2014.

Overcoming electricity shortage to ensure round-the-clock electricity to all sectors, massive increase in food production by completing several irrigation projects including Kaleshwaram, considered the world's largest lift irrigation project and the increase in annual IT exports to Rs 1.83 lakh crore from Rs 57,000 crore in 2014 are projected as the other achievements.

"When a new state can achieve this in such a short span of time, why can't the rest of the country achieve this," KCR often poses the question at public meetings.

KCR also claims that no other state can compete with Telangana in terms of the welfare schemes for various sections of people. Last year, it launched another innovative scheme, Dalit Bandhu, for the socio-economic empowerment of Dalits. Under this scheme, every Dalit family will be provided Rs 10 lakh assistance to start any business of its choice.

These schemes are not only attracting national attention but a few villages in neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra bordering Telangana have even demanded that they be merged with Telangana so that farmers and other sections of people can reap the benefits of its schemes.

The BRS is primarily looking to expand from these states and also looking at Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

In tune with the priority to the agriculture sector and farmers, BRS launched a kisan cell on the day of the launch. KCR appointed the leader of the National Farmers' Union, Gurnam Singh Charudi of Haryana, as president of the BRS Kisan Cell.

The party has drawn up plans to go aggressive to expand after Christmas. As part of this the BRS Kisan Cell will be launched next week in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

BRS leaders say that many former MLAs and senior political leaders with their teams and followers from various states of North, East and Central India are having discussions with KCR. The BRS chief is explaining to them what kind of policies should be adopted according to the aspirations of the people there following the geographical, social and cultural conditions of their states.

While KCR has long been aspiring for a role in national politics by bringing together like-minded parties for a third alternative, his plans failed to take-off apparently due to differences with other regional leaders over the composition of the proposed front.

Aware of the fact that with the limited Lok Sabha seats (17) that Telangana has, he will not be able to influence national politics, KCR came out with the idea of BRS. Working with the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as its target, the party will be focusing on 100 Lok Sabha seats.

The BRS hopes to influence the nation with its socio-economic and political agenda by winning at least 50-80 seats. But, it remains to be seen what strategy the party will adopt to achieve this target.

"BRS will remain a fallacy unless the party wins seats outside Telangana. Currently, every state has a different dynamic and there are regional forces to cater to the expectations of the people there," observes political analyst Palvai Raghvendra Reddy.

"KCR is wishing to go national with farmers as a key agenda. But in the past elections held across India we have not seen farmers alone deciding the fate of an election, except in western Uttar Pradesh during the time of Chaudhary Charan Singh and once in Punjab in 2012. We have noticed how the farmers' agenda has faltered in UP in this year's Assembly polls," he said.

The BRS will face challenges in every state as it seeks allies to achieve its target.

"The first major challenge before KCR would be to get prominent allies across states/regions who would be willing to contest on BRS party tickets. We are a country of divergent groups and differing sentiments, and we will have to wait and see who will align with the BRS in the immediate future," said Reddy.

"Though the Janata Dal (Secular) leadership was seen standing with KCR during the launch of the BRS, it is unlikely they would contest as BRS in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections; and Gowdas are not that big a factor from Karnataka in the parliamentary elections," the analyst said.

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