Hyderabad: If there was one thing about Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao that bureaucrats are wary of, it is his strong likes and dislikes.

If Rao had confidence in a officer, he would not face any interference in work. However, if it was the opposite, working under him can be equally difficult, said senior bureaucrats, requesting anonymity.

Ever since the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief became chief minister in 2014, when the state was carved out from united Andhra Pradesh, life has come full circle.

Rao had left the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 2001 to form the TRS, after reportedly being denied a cabinet berth by TDP chief and then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Between 2009 and 2014, during his fight for a separate state of Telangana, he also faced opposition from a host of people, including Prof. M. Kodandaram, the former chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC). Subsequently, Kodandaram went on to float his own party, the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), to take on Rao.

When Rao and Kodandaram fought shoulder to shoulder, as part of the TJAC, demanding Telangana’s statehood, both were equally popular among political entities, employee organizations and non-governmental bodies.

In the recently concluded state elections the Congress-led grand alliance, or mahakutami, comprising Kodandaram’s TJS and Naidu’s TDP, emerged as the main challenger to Rao’s four-year legacy as Telangana’s first chief minister. The results were not flattering for the alliance, as it failed spectacularly before Rao’s might. The TJS did not win a single seat, the TDP won just two, and the Congress bagged 19.

KCR, as Rao is known, is considered an intellectual in the political class. He strengthened his party at the cost of the Opposition, triggering large-scale defections after the 2014 assembly polls, when it won only 63 seats. By the time KCR dissolved the assembly on 6 September, the TRS had 90 MLAs in the 119-member assembly, leaving a small section of opposing voices to take on the ruling party.

The TRS chief is known to keep a tight grip on party affairs. The word is that no minister, or member of the legislative assembly, or even a member of Parliament (MP) could do anything on his own, since KCR became chief minister.

Former TRS MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, who quit the the party to join the Congress days before the 2018 assembly polls, had alleged that even the finance minister would have no idea about the state budget until the morning of the assembly session. TRS leaders, however, denied the allegations.

A native of Chintamadak village in Suddipet district, KCR’s track record as a legislator has been inspirational. Barring 1983, Rao won the Siddipet assembly seat five times—1985, 1994, 1999, 2001 (bypolls) and in 2004—to become a Lok Sabha MP (2004 and 2009), only to vacate it for his nephew and (caretaker) chief minister T. Harish Rao, who is seen as his go-to person.

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