Hyderabad/Kolkata: Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Monday kept the people guessing about his plans of forming a non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and non-Congress federal front. He said he would reach a decision before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Rao, who met his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, on Monday and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik a day earlier, said the leaders were settling issues of mutual interest and national politics.

Rao’s renewed efforts to form the federal front come in the wake of his victory over the Congress in Telangana, where the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) bagged 88 of the 119 assembly seats.

“It is still KCR’s (as Rao is known) mission. But wait for some time. Let dialogues continue and soon we will give you some news," Rao, the chief of the TRS, said after his meeting with Banerjee. The West Bengal chief minister, however, refused to comment on the meeting.

Senior leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who did not want to be quoted, said that efforts to bring Banerjee on board with them to join hands with the Congress have also not been fruitful.

Rao had earlier met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who flew down to Hyderabad for the meeting, as well as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M.K. Stalin and Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda, among other leaders.

However, Stalin has added to the suspense by publicly declaring that Congress president Rahul Gandhi should be the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate.

“We are not sure what exactly KCR is trying to do, because other than the BJP and Congress, no party can be on its own. Maybe he is trying to create something new, but the fact remains that Telangana has only 17 Lok Sabha seats, so why will leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik listen to him, when they have much more leverage given that their states have more parliament seats?" asked a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted.

KCR is not the only person trying to stitch together an alliance against the BJP. Over the last few weeks, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has also met several opposition leaders to bring them on a common platform against the BJP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The talks even led to a meeting between him and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot in Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu had exited the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in March, after a bitter spat with the Centre over funding to Andhra Pradesh post the 2018 budget. His decsion to join hands with the Congress, which he called a “democratic compulsion", surprised everyone, as the TDP was founded on an anti-Congress plank. “It is too early to say whether Rao’s efforts will go anywhere or not. He has renewed confidence now. He did not talk about it for over two months and, interestingly, he has met two people who wished him after his big win. KCR is trying to increase his stature as well, unlike Naidu who is a recognized face in New Delhi. KCR wants to be seen across the country, but what TRS will gain is yet to be seen," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

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