Hyderabad: Will friendship blossom between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (aka KCR) this Friendship Day?
In case you missed the spam text messages and the constant stream of wishes in your Facebook/Twitter feed this morning, 7 August 2016 marks Friendship Day, an occasion for friends to remind each other they are still friends.
Of course, it could be a coincidence that Modi's maiden visit to the country’s youngest state falls on the first Sunday of August.
But KCR is pulling all stops to impress the Prime Minister who will inaugurate Mission Bhagiratha, an ambitious initiative of the Telangana government to provide piped water supply to every household in the state at an expenditure of Rs.40,000 crore.
It is worth remembering here that KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is not an ally of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Far from it. TRS actively competes with BJP in the state.
BJP leaders have often targeted TRS for its friendship with Muslim-oriented All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). KCR has also come under fire from state BJP leaders over farmer deaths in the state, and for not implementing the central government’s schemes effectively. BJP leaders in the past have even moved a privilege motion against KCR in the state assembly.
KCR, for his part, has accused the Centre, including the Prime Minister of according the new state stepmotherly treatment—for “talking big” and not doing anything for Telangana.
In August 2014, KCR even went as far as to describe Modi as fascist, drawing condemnation from BJP leaders. He later said his comments were misinterpreted.
But going by the excitement in Telangana two Augusts later, KCR seems to be on a rapprochement path with the Centre.
He knows he needs the Centre’s support not just for getting projects and funding to the state, but also to earn the Union government’s goodwill in issues such as river water sharing with neighbouring states.
That is why every move of Modi and KCR will be carefully watched in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which rules Andhra Pradesh is a partner of NDA alliance, and a foe of TRS in Telangana.
But sparks aren’t exactly flying between the two allies over an issue to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Modi’s Telangana visit comes at a time some political pundits are predicting TDP to call off the relationship before next elections in 2019.
Modi will kick off Mission Bhagiratha, one of KCR’s pet projects that aims to supply tap water to every household in the state by laying 1.25 lakh km pipelines before next elections in 2019. The Prime Minister will also lay foundation stone for National Thermal Power Corporation’s 4,000 MW super thermal power project being built at a cost of Rs.10598.98 crore.
The power project is one of the promises contained in the contentious AP Reorganisation Act.