Hyderabad: If there is one thing about Telangana’s caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao that bureaucrats know, it is that working with him can be hit or miss. Senior IAS officers are aware that if Rao has confidence in someone, then that particular officer will face absolutely no interference in his or her work. If not, working can be equally difficult, say many bureaucrats.
And ever since the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief became chief minister in 2014 after the state’s formation, life has come full circle. Not only was he up against the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which he left to form the TRS in 2001 after reportedly being denied a cabinet berth by TDP supremo and then chief minister of joint AP N. Chandrababu Naidu, Rao is also being opposed by some of the people he had worked with to fight for statehood.
The most recognizable face among them is Prof. M. Kodandaram, former chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), who recently floated the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), to take on Rao. The TJS and Naidu had teamed up to be part of the Congress-led grand alliance to defeat the TRS.
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And now, Rao, known as KCR, is all set to become chief minister for a second term, after his party swept the Telangana polls with a thumping majority of 86 seats (as of 4 pm in the Election Commission of India website). KCR himself bagged over 1.2 lakh votes against the Congress’s Vanteru Pratap Reddy, who secured 63,686 votes. In 2014, Rao managed to get 86,694 votes against Reddy’s 67,303 votes.
Both Rao and Prof. Kodandaram had fought together as part of the TJAC (which was supported by political, employee organisations and other non-governmental bodies as well), which was created to attain statehood for Telangana.
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Considered to be an intellectual in the political class, KCR, as Rao is known, managed to strengthen his party at the cost of the opposition after the 2014 assembly polls, thanks to large scale defections from various opposition parties. Till he dissolved the assembly on 6 September, the TRS had grown its strength to nearly 90 out of the 119 seats in the assembly, leaving only a small section of voices to oppose the government.
One of the things Rao is accused of is being very Vaastu compliant, which TRS leaders reject. Whether that is true or not, the fact remains that the chief minister barely visited or worked from the secretariat, choosing to mostly work out of his camp office in Hyderabad and farm house in Siddipet district.
Except for the first time in 1983, Rao has won the Siddipet assembly seat five consecutive times in 1985, 1984, 1999, 2001 (by-polls) and in 2004, after which he became a Lok Sabha MP (in 2004 and 2009), vacating it for his nephew T. Harish Rao, who is seen as the go-to person to get things done.