Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who had ruled out a change of leadership at the TRS executive meet on Sunday, seems to be waiting for an opportune time to hand over the mantle to his son K. T. Rama Rao.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief not only maintained that he will remain the Chief Minister for next 10 years but reportedly warned the leaders that those talking of change in leadership will be thrown out of the party.
KCR’s outburst baffled the TRS leaders as the speculations of his son’s elevation as CM have been doing rounds for nearly two years and he never admonished the leaders talking of a leadership change earlier.
Political observers say KCR may not be inclined to make KTR the Chief Minister at a time when the party is facing challenges, especially from a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party which has gone aggressive following the victory in by-election to Dubbak Assembly seat and its impressive performance in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections late last year.
“No leader, more so a father will transfer power at a moment of challenges. He will choose more opportune time,” said political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.
KCR is apparently worried over the impact the talk of leadership change will have on the party internally at a time when the party is facing the onslaught from the BJP, which has emerged as the main opposition and is working towards Mission 2023 to come to power in the state.
The TRS chief is believed to have felt that continuing talk of KTR as next CM will leave the party more vulnerable to attacks from the BJP, which often target him for promoting his family.
The talk of leadership change in Telangana is not new. It had started immediately after the TRS retained power in 2018 with a massive majority when KCR appointed KTR as the Working President of the party.
KCR, who had national ambitions, wanted to focus on national politics and was even working to cobble together a front of regional parties as an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress.
However, KCR’s plans fell flat with the BJP retaining power at the Centre with a huge majority.
KTR for CM talk gathered momentum in recent weeks with several party leaders, MLAs and even ministers going on record that they want to see the young leader as CM or that he has all the qualifications to occupy the top post. They competed with each other to back KTR.
At a recent programme, Deputy Speaker T. Padma Rao went a step ahead to address KTR as ‘soon to become CM’. The minister, who was present there, showed no displeasure. This added to the speculations that he will soon be taking over.
The meeting of the party executive in this context had assumed significance. However, the leaders were stunned when KCR spewed fire over the speculation that he is stepping down as the CM to pave way for his son.
He went to extent of warning that the leaders talking of leadership change will be thrown out of the party. “I am completely fit and I will remain Chief Minister for 10 more years,” declared KCR.
The Chief Minister pulled up leaders for resorting to speculations despite his making it clear in the Assembly that there will be no change in leadership.
Political observers say the TRS chief wanted to put an end to the speculations as this was leading to confusion in the party and opposition parties were trying to take advantage of this. Some opposition leaders had projected Health Minister E. Rajender as a more suitable successor to KCR.
KCR was also worried that the confusion could mark the party’s prospects in the coming by-elections to Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly seat and elections to two seats of Legislative Council and few municipal bodies.
“KCR’s warnings were ostensibly directed at those who spoke for it but it really meant for those who overreacted,” said Ravi.
The analyst believes that while there may be no change now, this could happen when KCR moves to the Centre.
KCR’s silence on the BJP at the executive meeting also raised eyebrows in political circles. His alleged compromise with the party’s central leadership is also being viewed as a strategy by the TRS leader.
During the campaign for the GHMC polls, KCR had announced plans to host a meeting of anti-BJP parties in Hyderabad to bring them on a common platform but nothing happened. The other opposition parties alleged that after the elections, he went to Delhi for secret understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
KCR’s alleged U-turn on farmers’ issue is also being seen as part of the compromise. Though the BJP leadership is going all out to attack him, KCR is ignoring them as he is believed to be ‘dealing’ directly with the central leadership.