'Target KCR' is BJP's by-poll strategy in Telangana, not polarisation
The BJP has finally hit the bull’s eye. Telangana’s first family finds itself in an awkward position of having to defend itself in the wake of corruption charges levelled by the BJP, and that too, with a by-election in the offing.
On Sunday (August 21), around the same time when Union Home Minister Amit Shah was slamming Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)’s family at a campaign for the Munugode by-polls, BJP MLAs called a press conference in Delhi and alleged that KCR’s daughter and former MP, K Kavita, had played a key role in Delhi’s excise scam.
The saffron party dragged Kavita’s husband, who hitherto had been out of the media glare too into the controversy. The BJP MP Delhi (west), MP Parvesh Sharma, and Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a former MLA alleged that it was Kavita who brought south India’s liquor barons to Delhi, while her father, KCR, helped Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal formulate the UT’s excise policy. Kavita reportedly gave ₹4.50 crores to CM Kejriwal and deputy CM Sisodia, they alleged.
BJP’s Target KCR Strategy
The clip of the Delhi press conference by the BJP MPs went viral, even as Amit Shah urged the voters of the Munugode constituency in Telangana to see the dark side of the KCR family. Meanwhile, K Kavitha denied all the allegations against her and said that these allegations are an attempt by the BJP to denigrate her father, chief minister KCR.
Shah was addressing a public meeting in Munugode on Sunday, symbolically launching the party’s campaign for the forthcoming by-election. Earlier, he admitted former local Congress MLA Komati Reddy Rajagopala Reddy into the BJP by offering him the party kanduva (scarf). It was Reddy’s resignation that had led to the Munugode by-election.
“I am not envious of the KCR family for cornering more jobs in the government. CM KCR has a huge family, he has a son, daughter, son-in-law, cousins and other relatives…all are enjoying the fruits of Telangana. My question is why Telangana people should bear the cost of the family,” Shah asked.
In Telangana, BJP seems to be adopting the strategy of demonising KCR, where the KCR personality cult is all pervasive, to win an election rather than going down the path of polarisation on religious lines. The party has been trying to push the KCR family into a corner and make them self-defensive for quite some time.
A senior BJP leader, who preferred to be anonymous told The Federal that targeting KCR’s family is a fitting reply to KCR’s attempt to portray Prime Minister Modi as anti-Telangana.
“Rescuing the Telangana from the KCR’s family is a prerequisite to fulfilling the aspirations of the Telangana movement,” he added
Pariwaraadi party a political menace: Modi
The first to launch the assault against the KCR family was none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Addressing the party’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad in May, PM Modi in an oblique reference to KCR-led party, Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) said, “Pariwarwaadi party is not just a political menace but the biggest enemy of democracy and the youth of our country. Corruption has become the face of the political parties led by one family.”
The PM’s remark has emboldened the Telangana BJP to intensify the attack on the KCR family’s grip over the government. Later, the party turned to raising allegations against the alleged corruption by the family.
A week ago, the Union minister for Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat described the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) as the ‘illegitimate child of KCR’.
Shekhawat had visited Telangana to participate in Telangana party chief Bandi Sanjay’s ‘Praja Sangrama Yatra’ a fortnight ago. According to Shekhawat, Kaleshwaram, KCR’s pet project, was taken up only as a money-making machine. “The project was turned into a milch cow,” Shekhawat alleged. Soon enough, Amit Shah too alleged that KLIS had become an ATM for KCR.
While these accusations were just being tossed around, the Delhi BJP, for the first time, actually directly named KCR and Kavita, for being responsible for the Delhi excise scam.
Amit Shah attacks KCR
Meanwhile, Amit Shah went all guns blazing against KCR in his by-poll campaign trail. Listing out KCR’s broken promises, Shah highlighted three issues pertaining to Dalits, youth and farmers, as a testimony to the failure of the KCR-led government.
“The chief minister has the habit of reneging on promises. During the Telangana movement, KCR promised to make a Dalit the first chief minister in Telangana state. Where is the Dalit CM? Even if you elect TRS for the third time in 2023, his son KTR (KT Ramarao) will become chief minister. You will never see a Dalit CM in the state,” Shah said.
“KCR backed out on the promise of assigning three-acre land for each Dalit family. He conveniently ignored the Dalit Bandhu scheme, which was floated at the time of the Huzurabad by-election. He lost the election and forgot to give cash of ₹10 lakh to each Dalit family. KCR had promised an unemployment allowance at the rate of ₹3,000 per head. Where is it? KCR’s family stands out as the only family that got more jobs than any family in the state. Where are the double bedroom houses he had promised to the poor?” asked Shah.
Further, sharpening his attack on KCR, the Union home minister said KCR is anti-farmer. Shah alleged that just to prevent farmers from moving closer to PM Modi, KCR chose to deny the farmer the benefit of Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana.
Referring to the Centre not procuring rice from Telangana, Shah said the state government was responsible for the fiasco. “Even though the Centre was ready to purchase the rice from the state with MSP, the KCR government did not procure the grain from the farmers,” said Shah urging the voters to help BJP form the next government in Telangana. “And the party’s chief minister will ensure the Centre procures every kg of the rice produced in the state,” Shah assured.
Shah was extremely critical of the KCR government for going back on the promise of celebrating September 17 as the Telangana Liberation Day. “He promised to announce September 17 as a state function. But, KCR backed out to please MIM. Sardar Patel liberated the region from Rajakars and made it part of the Indian union on September 17. We liberate Telangana in the next Assembly election and the BJP CM will make Telangana Liberation Day a state function,” Shah said.
State IT minister and KCR’s son KT Ramarao (KTR) said Shah talking about family politics was ridiculous. Amit Shah should first know that he was campaigning for a candidate also from a family whose brother is an MP and who fielded his wife in the MLC elections in Telangana, KTR said in a tweet.
Commenting on the war of words between KCR and BJP, the Telangana Congress vice-president and former MP Mallu Ravi, meanwhile, told The Federal the best option left for KCR is to refrain from contesting the by-election. “Munugode is the Congress bastion. If KCR really wants a coalition against BJP, he should send across the message to this effect by extending support to the Congress candidate in the Munugodu by-election,” Dr Mallu said.