By morphing his party last year into the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Telangana chief minister and party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) announced his political intentions in the national landscape.
With the tagline ‘Is baar, kisaan sarkar’, the CM has been targetting farmer welfare and advertising the schemes in his home state. In the past few months, he had a delegation of farmers from Punjab study farmer-centric schemes such as Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima. He has garnered support from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and other regional parties. A prominent supporter has been JDS leader and former CM of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy.
It was speculated earlier that the BRS would contest polls in the Kalyana-Karnataka region, which has a sizeable Telugu-speaking population. However, the ‘pink party’ later made clear that they are not fighting any poll in Karnataka which goes for Assembly elections next month.
Instead, the party has been concentrating on another neighbouring state — Maharashtra.
The state goes to polls next year, giving a comfortable window to the BRS to make an impression. In Karnataka, there was not enough time to make their presence felt. Also, according to sources, there have been feelers that the JDS will join hands with either the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Congress, depending on the poll outcome. This has reportedly made the BRS more cautious and it has restricted itself to provide support to the JDS while campaigning. Hence, there has not been movement by the pink party in Karnataka.
Maharashtra has been another story altogether. The CM has addressed two public meetings — one in Nanded and another in Kandhar Loha. Another is in the offing at Vidarbha. Former sarpanches, MPTCS, ZPTCs, MLAs and MPs from various parties joined the BRS recently. The party is going to contest the Zilla Parishad elections and aims to win 12 of the 34 parishads. The BRS committees are being set up at all districts and party offices are also being set up.
FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE
Talking about their strategies in both the states, BRS spokesperson Putta Vishnuvardhan Reddy said: “We want to showcase the progress we made in Telangana. Telangana is the most developed state in the nation and the growth is way above the national average. We have a successful model and people can see it. The intention is to focus on the agricultural sector. We have schemes such as Rythu Bandhu and Mission Bhagiratha which the whole country can emulate. We don’t want to indulge in blame games like Modiji.”
“Maharashtra and Karnataka are Telangana’s border states. We have a ‘roti-beti’ connection with Maharashtra. We share over a 1,000 km border. There are parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra which were part of Hyderabad state, and there is a large Telugu-speaking population there. They have seen the positive changes in Telangana.”
“If you go to the Telangana-Maharashtra border, you can see how green the fields are on Telangana’s side. 40 sarpanches from Maharashtra have approached our CM and asked him to merge those states into Telangana. In October 2021, Raichur MLA Shivaraj Patil demanded that Raichur district be merged with Telangana in front of Karnataka Minister Prabhu Chauhan.”
“Elections are due in Karnataka next month. Kumaraswamy was one of the first persons to pledge support to the BRS. This elections, we are offering moral support to him. Our CM might form a committee to go there and campaign for the JDS.”
“In Maharashtra, the elections are far away. Our CM has addressed two public meetings there and has got tremendous response. We will be contesting the Zilla Parishad elections. That is the plan as of now,” he added.
Commenting on the party’s movement in the two states, E Venkateshu, a political science professor from Hyderabad Central University, said: “Maharashtra has a long history of agrarian distress. The state is riddled with farmer suicides for a long time. While the Bombay Stock Exchange was at its peak, areas like Vidarbha recorded the highest number of farmer suicides. For the past few years, Telangana has been projecting itself as a pro-farmer state. With irrigation schemes and other incentives, the state was able to prove that it can provide the basic infrastructure for farming. These factors can attract voters in Maharashtra.”
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“Karnataka, in comparison, is not under severe stress because of irrigation facilities and stability in governance. In Maharashtra, there has been political instability. Further, the negligence of the irrigation sector has been forcing the farming community of Maharashtra to find an alternative. As Telangana is a neighbouring state, farmers in Maharashtra have been following farming news from the state. The ecology and socio-economic context of the larger state can be a starting ground for the BRS,” he said.
Political analyst Kambalapally Krishna, who runs a consultancy called Voice of Telangana and Andhra, said: “It is strange that KCR is not pursuing expansion plans in election-bound Karnataka. Due to KCR’s repeated refusal to join hands with the Congress in forming a united Opposition, many have come to regard him as the B team of BJP. This might be the reason behind him not taking concrete steps in Karnataka.”
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