K Chandrashekar Rao, Telangana Chief Minister, KCR, PM Narendra Modi, Adani issue
KCR was replying to the debate on the Appropriation Bill in the Telangana assembly on Monday when he made these comments (file photo)

Why Mamata’s LS prediction is music to KCR’s ears

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s prediction that Federal Front, a non-BJP and non-Congress formation, would form the next government at the Centre has come as music to the ears of the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who originally mooted the idea in March last year.

Sources close to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo say that Mamata’s endorsement of the Federal Front is a major boost to the like-minded regional parties who can come together under a common umbrella and a common minimum programme, post-elections, and form the government.

In fact, Mamata was the first leader that KCR had met last year after floating the idea of forging a non-BJP and non-Congress front. However, at that time, the Trinamool supremo was believed to be averse to any formation at the national level that excludes Congress.

In the changed political dynamics, marked by growing antagonism between TMC and Congress, Mamata is veering round to the idea of Federal Front as a practical and workable post-poll arrangement.

“In fact, our leader (KCR) has been talking about this political scenario since October last year. We expect the regional parties to emerge as a formidable group that can decide the shape of the next government,” a senior TRS leader says.

In an interview to a national news channel, the West Bengal Chief Minister asserted that neither the BJP-led NDA nor the Congress-led UPA would be in a position to stake claim for government formation at the Centre. She spoke about the strong possibility of a Federal Front ruling the roost at the Centre post-May 23, the day results of the general elections will be announced.

Echoing TRS supremo’s views, Mamata predicted that the regional parties would be able to mop up majority of the Lok Sabha seats in States like her own West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, which together account for a sizable chunk of 185 seats. And, the Federal Front partners would sit together and decide about Prime Ministerial candidate through consensus.

Federal Front idea precedes Mahagathbandhan

KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, had met his West Bengal counterpart on March 18 last year and discussed his proposal. He followed it up with meetings with leaders like Biju Janata Dal’s Navin Patnaik, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, JD (S) supremo Deve Gowda and DMK’s MK Stalin.

Scoffed then by a section of the media, who dubbed the Federal Front a non-starter with some reports even suggesting that he was cold-shouldered by Mamata and Patnaik, the TRS president, however, remained positive about the Federal Front taking shape, post-elections. All the while, he has been in touch with the regional satraps and taking his idea forward.

Campaign theme

During the electioneering for the April 11 polls to the Lok Sabha, the TRS leaders focused on the need for the regional parties to come together to “eliminate the two national parties from the game.”

On his part, KCR has predicted that the national tally of BJP and Congress would not exceed 150 and 100 seats respectively.

The TRS leaders cite the collapse of Congress-AAP alliance talks and the snubbing of the grand old party by the BSP to argue that the time is ripe for like-minded regional parties to come together under the umbrella of Federal Front and present an alternative to the people.

KCR’s son and the working president of the TRS K T Rama Rao says that the Federal Front would decide who the next Prime Minister would be and the agenda of the next government.

New slogan

“Saar plus car ante Delhilo sarkar” (KCR and TRS’s car symbol will mean our government in Delhi)” was the new slogan that dominated the campaign.

KCR and his senior colleagues asserted that their party would renew efforts to bring together the regional parties as an alternative to Congress and BJP.

The idea behind the Federal Front is to foster true federal spirit by strengthening the voice of the regional parties in the Parliament and end the domination of the two national parties.

The TRS hopes to repeat its Assembly performance and sweep the Lok Sabha polls, eyeing to capture 16 of the total 17 seats in the state, while leaving Hyderabad LS seat to its ally All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) whose president Asaduddin Owaisi has been representing the constituency since 2004.

Regional aspirations must have a say

The TRS’ calculation is that the LS elections would throw up a “1996-type fractured mandate” and the Federal Front of regional parties would be able to play a decisive role in the government formation. “The regional aspirations will find greater resonance in such a coalition arrangement at the Centre,” says KTR.

“It is time to realize that development of States will lead to nation’s development. Though the Constitution has said that India will be a Union of States, what has emerged so far is a ‘Unitary State’ instead of a true Union of States,” he says.

The Federal Front would be able to correct the “historical imbalances” in the developmental model and would put the country on a high growth trajectory, it is argued. “The successive governments of Congress and BJP have failed to meet the aspirations of the people and solve the pressing problems facing the country. With a common strategy and a set of well-defined programmes, the Federal Front has the potential to transform the country’s infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture and industries sectors,” KCR had said while unveiling his idea in March last year.

“We will set off tremors that will jolt the two national parties,” he had said. However, his proposal did not take off because he was seen by the Congress as a mole of the BJP. What added to the Congress’ concerns was his support to the NDA government on a string of policy issues including demonetisation and GST.

Since Congress is his principal adversary in Telangana, KCR is averse to associating himself with any formation at national level of which Congress is a partner.

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