Why KCR chose Maharashtra over Andhra, Karnataka to expand BRS footprint
Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao finds Maharashtra is more congenial than other neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to expand the party outside Telangana in the bid to secure the national party status.
The party on May 22, launched a massive programme to establish committees in 45,000 panchayats and urban civic bodies across Maharashtra. Several former legislators, farmer leaders and youth have joined the BRS over the past few months.
BRS sources claim that the membership in Maharashtra has crossed 3.5 lakh out of which 2.5 lakh are farmers. Last month KCR inaugurated a two-day training camp for new members of the party in Nanded. He also addressed two meetings in Loha and Aurangabad.
In a surprise development, Ghansyam Shelar, vice president of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and close confidante of party patriarch Sharad Pawar, joined BRS.
Shelar’s entry is a huge gain for KCR who is planning to field candidates in forthcoming local body elections, which in turn would prepare the ground for the Assembly polls in 2024.
Shelar is an influential leader in Srigonda segment of Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency. In 2019, as an NCP candidate, Shelar lost to BJP with a thin margin of 2,500 votes.
As part of the expansion programme on June 15, KCR inaugurated the BRS office in its own building in Nagpur, second in Maharashtra after Nanded.
The colorful programme saw local leaders queuing up to join the party. KCR invited them by offering a pink scarf.
Striking a chord with farmers
KCR who is concentrating in the backward regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha has so far addressed four public meetings. In his fourth meeting in Nagpur after launching the party office, KCR said his mission is to end suicides in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions and make the farmer the decision maker.
Referring to Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ remark on what business Telangana chief minister has got in Maharashtra, KCR said as a citizen of India he was entitled to tour every state of the nation.
“As a citizen I have the right to come to Maharashtra. I am on a mission to see that farmers of this country don’t suffer from lack of power, water, and market. BRS is not a party but a mission. We are providing farmers in Telangana with 24-hour free power supply, plenty of irrigation water, financial support in the farm of Rythu Bandhu, digitisation of revenue records and grain procurement by the government. I request my friend Fadnavis that I will have no business to come to Maharashtra if you implement the ‘Telangana Model’ for farmers. Till the farmer is protected from the scarcities, I vow to fight,” he said amid cheers.
Why Maharashtra only?
For KCR, Maharashtra is congenial to expand his party than any other state that shares a border with Telangana because of the political and agrarian situation.
According to noted analyst Professor K Nageswar, KCR finds favorable context in Maharashtra because of the “splintered politics” in the state.
“All political parties are in trouble. NCP has internal problems. Shiv Sena suffered a split. Congress is also in a bad situation. In between, BJP is trying to dominate the scene. KCR feels he can carve out some space in between,” Nageswar said.
Another important factor in choosing Maharashtra is the contiguity of two backward regions Marathwada and Vidarbha with Telangana. The two regions, especially Vidarbha, are agriculturally backward where farmers suicides are highest in India. KCR wants to hard sell his Telangana ‘Kisan Model’ which offers everything free to the distressed farmers of Maharashtra.
“In Telangana agriculture is celebrated. We are giving fee-power 24X7. Water is plenty even in summer. From digitisation of revenue records and registration of lands to procurement of food grains everything is taken care of by the government,” he said by assuring extension of the programme to Maharashtra as well if BRS was elected to power.
“I am pained to see a state, full of rivers including Krishna and Godavari, not able to provide power and water to the farmers. I feel sad that the state is not able to provide even drinking water to people after 75 years of Independence,” he said, stating that the Telangana model is the only solution.
Why are Andhra and Karnataka left out
Although a BRS committee has been set up with a retired IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre as president, Andhra Pradesh looks to be a politically rough terrain for KCR because of the presence of two strong regional parties and people’s hostile attitude towards him as they hold him responsible for the bifurcation of the state.
Aggressively offering the Telangana model to people of Andhra Pradesh embarrasses chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy with whom he has cordial relations. Jagan’s YSRCP government is equally strong in implementing welfare schemes. So, Andhra doesn’t fit the bill.
According to Dr Mallu Ravi, senior Telangana Congress leader, Congress’ dominance made Karnataka unsuitable for BRS entry.
“KCR was banking on JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy in the state who sees no problem in joining his rivals, Congress and BJP, if it is advantageous. Going with JD(S), an opportunist, would damage his reputation. So, KCR left Karnataka and chose to concentrate on Maharashtra,” Dr Mallu said.