Hyderabad: It was an informal media interaction, held in the chief minister’s camp office, around an hour after almost a month long hectic election campaigning in Telangana had to officially end on 5 December.
Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao, better known as KTR, the caretaker minister in Telangana sat among select journalists, beaming with confidence that his party would hit a ‘century’, implying that Telugu Rashtra Samithi (TRS) would win over 100 of the 119 seats that went to the polls on 7 December. Having literally just stepped off a campaign trail, with vermillion and flower petals on his head, KTR interacted not as a candidate fighting to retain office but someone already in office.
Though the TRS did not make the 100 mark, the party led by caretaker chief minister swept the polls bagging 86 of the 119 seats and leaving the Congress led alliance to lick its wounds.
“It’s not the mahagathbandhan, it’s the mahaghatiya bandhan," Rama Rao said during the interaction, making no secret of his disdain towards the alliance that also has Andhra Pradesh CM N.Chandrababu Naidu led Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
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Since his first assembly victory in 2009, 42 year old KTR has rapidly risen from the shadow of his chief minister father, K.Chandrashekar Rao, handling several portfolios and becoming the urban face of the otherwise rural electorate backed TRS.
“He starts the day having breakfast with a CEO of a big company and in the evening will be in his constituency talking about rural problems in their own dialect," says Dileep Konatham,who is associated with KTR for at least six years, emphasising on the versatility of the leader.
KTR has been tactful to say the very least when it comes to using his MBA from New York and applying it in bureaucracy. KTR apparently asked an IAS officer for the job description and skill sets of key government officials on the first day of becoming a minister, throwing the bureaucracy into a tizzy.
Fondly known as ‘Ramanna’, he has a personal connect with several second and third rung leaders within the party who participated in the statehood struggle, party workers say.
Surrounded by a politically active family, KTR also made his electoral debut by winning from Sircilla Assembly Constituency in 2009 and later retaining that seat in 2014.
With KCR, as his the CM is known, keeping his distance from the media, KTR has stepped into the shoes as the face of the party-- a role that he is purportedly being groomed for.
Though TRS has warded off attacks on its own family running the show in Telangana, it has not ceased to go after the Congress’ dynasty politics.
“Will the future CM of Telangana address the press conference on 11th," asked a reporter, during the informal media interaction, carefully crypting a question that would draw KTR into admitting that he indeed was the future CM. “Yes, KCR will be there," he said with a straight face, adding “It was a very smart question, but unfortunately I am also intelligent."