New Delhi: After sealing a satisfying victory in Telangana and ensuring a second term for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has now set his sights on playing a larger role in national politics.
TRS was able to trounce the Congress-led opposition alliance and is expected to win 87 seats out of the 119. Addressing a press conference at the party’s office on Tuesday evening, Rao, popularly known as KCR, said he would bring together all regional parties in the state to form a credible alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
He said there was a deep political crisis in the country and a revolution was needed in the economic, political and agricultural sectors. “The people are fed up with the two major national parties. Today, the Congress might win in three states, but that is only because there was no popular alternative to the BJP,” he said.
Rao said he had already spoken to several national leaders, economist and political analysts to understand how a “federal front” could be built. This front would be open to all regional parties, he said. When pressed about his willingness to work with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, KCR avoided the question. “There are many regional leaders, I do not want to focus on any single person,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Naidu had congratulated Rao for his victory, even though his party was contesting against TRS. Even Naidu has been wrangling for an opposition alliance over the past few months to overthrow the BJP at the Centre.
Congratulating KCR garu for winning the Assembly elections in Telangana.
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) December 11, 2018
A day before the results for the five states were announced, Naidu arrived in Delhi for the fourth time in the national capital over the past two months. In a meeting with a range of opposition leaders, a strategy to take on the BJP during the 2019 general elections was discussed.
Rao, during the press conference, said that he was meeting some leaders from Delhi at his residence later in the evening. “There are about seven-eight leaders who have arrived at my residence. We will discuss how to effectively build an alternative to the BJP and the Congress for the 2019 elections,” he said.
He said within ten days, the modalities of the federal front would be declared by him in Delhi. “There are still four months before the general elections. In my opinion, that is ample time to formulate an alternative,” he said. Earlier fronts had tried to unite parties, but the federal front would instead unite people, KCR said. “People can only be united by a new economic and agricultural model,” he said.
Rao reiterated his party’s “friendly” status with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). The chief minister called Asaduddin Owaisi a great debater and rejected suggestions that the latter was a fundamentalist. “I am with Asaduddin Owaisi because he is a secular leader,” he said.
The elder Owaisi would play a crucial role in the federal front, Rao said, adding that the duo would tour the country to garner the support of leaders and people.
‘Will continue to focus on people’s problems’
Thanking the people of the state for trusting his party again, KCR said that his government would continue to focus on people’s problems. “This result is a vindication of our policies and the welfare schemes we have initiated. We will give special focus to issues of Dalits, tribals and minorities,” he said.
Though the party won comfortably, some of ministers in the previous cabinet lost. Textile minister J. Krishna Rao and child development minister T. Nageshwara Rao lost, while transport minister P. Mahender Reddy was trailing at the time of filing.
Rao will now need to balance his party’s burgeoning strength by satisfying egos and jostling. “I have not put any thought into who will be in the new cabinet yet,” Rao said when questioned.