With less than three weeks to go for the general elections results, Telangana chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi supremo K. Chandrashekar Rao has set out, once again, to try and forge a non-Congress and non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance.
Rao, who met Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Thiruvanthapuram on Monday, is on a five-day tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu which also includes a meeting with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M.K. Stalin on 13 May.
A statement by KCR (as Rao is known) said that the meetings with Vijayan and Stalin are being held to “discuss current scenario in the context of ongoing parliament elections".
The TRS chief has been talking of forming a federal front, or a coalition of regional parties, since last year. So far, only Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSR Congress (YSRCP) chief, has formally announced his support for the idea.
A senior TRS functionary, who did not want to be identified, said KCR is “just going to put forth his views and explain his federal front idea" to Vijayan and Stalin.
However, the DMK contested the assembly and Lok Sabha polls in an alliance with the Congress. Moreover, AP chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, KCR’s rival, also campaigned with Stalin in Tamil Nadu and is on his own path to form an anti-BJP coalition, which includes the Congress.
“We are not expecting anything from these two parties. Everything will become clear only after 23 May. KCR definitely wants to form a federal front, and its formation also depends on how many seats the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and other regional parties win. If the NDA gets more seats, then KCR might decide to provide outside or issue-based support if it falls short of numbers in the Lok Sabha," the TRS leader said.
Asked if KCR has prime ministerial ambitions, the TRS leader said it was too soon to talk about it. “If at all the federal front forms, then all the parties in it will meet and decide," he added.
Asaduddin Owaisi, All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul (AIMIM) chief and outgoing MP from the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat, has more or less batted for Rao on that front. Owaisi has in public said that KCR is a better choice than prime minister Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Prior to this trip, KCR has met West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, Janata Dal (Secular) supremo Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav (he and KCR even held a press conference together after their meeting in Hyderabad), and others. While none of them have openly declared support for his federal front, K. Kavitha, KCR’s daughter and outgoing MP from the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat in Telangana told Mint in April that some regional parties are “covertly backing the federal front idea".
“So far KCR was in a different direction, but now he is meeting the leftist chief minister (of Kerala). KCR was so far maintaining cordial relations with the NDA and also talking to neutral forces like Jagan and (Odisha CM) Naveen Patnaik. But now, the meeting with Vijayan and Stalin will send a different message: that he wants to form a third (federal) front, including the Left, and which might possibly go with the UPA," said political analyst E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.
Rao in his public speeches has also talked of the need for states to have a greater say on subjects in the Concurrent list like agriculture, health and education.