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The metamorphosis of K Chandrasekhar Rao

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-06-2014 PTI

Hyderabad: For Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), the metamorphosis from being the leader of separate statehood agitation by starting of with only a handful of supporters in 2001 to securing majority on his own and occupying the chief minister’s chair in Telangana on Monday is complete.

The 60-year-old KCR, as he is popularly known, is now set to guide the destiny of over four crore Telangana people in his capacity as the first chief minister of India’s 29th state, carved out of Andhra Pradesh. Rao is now hailed as the tallest leader in Telangana and credited with achieving the separate state despite being the only MP for his party in the previous Lok Sabha (his MP colleague Vijayashanti turned a rebel following differences with him and joined the Congress days before the elections). KCR was a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and a former minister, when he quit the N. Chandrababu Naidu-led party in 2001 and formed the outfit to fight for separate Telangana.

The separate Telangana issue was not an innovative idea, though it never lost the undercurrent of support among people, as veteran leaders like M. Chenna Reddy had fought for the cause albeit unsuccessfully. Not many expected KCR to make it big as seasoned politicians like Naidu, who was chief minister, and late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy were around.

However, KCR built the agitation all over again though his party could not spread it to the entire region not long ago. The party, however, made inroads in several areas where it did not have much of a presence. What aided Rao in strengthening the statehood agitation was his fiery oratory delivered in typical Telangana lingo, though his detractors accuse him of being a rabble-rouser, and a shrewd political strategist. He had criticised leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema (together known as Seemandhra), highlighting alleged injustice meted out to the Telangana region in an “integrated Andhra Pradesh”, striking a chord with masses of the region which consists of 10 districts.

His remarks like “Telangana waley jaago, Andhra waley bhago” (Telangana people arise, Andhra people run away), warnings of a “civil war” and “bloodbath” made him controversial. Often, he unsparingly criticised even Congress president Sonia Gandhi and then prime minister Manmohan Singh.

After a poor performance in the 2009 elections, KCR suffered a setback with several leaders deserting his party and getting closer to the then chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy. However, he bounced back after Reddy passed away in a chopper crash and soon began a fast unto death.

In the wake of the fast, the then Union home minister P. Chidambaram announced on 9 December 2009 that steps would be taken for formation of separate Telangana. Following opposition in Seemandhra to the “unilateral announcement”, the then UPA government felt that more consultations were needed on the demand for separate state.

However, there is no looking back for Rao with the United Progressive Alliance-II accepting the demand last year. He sprang a surprise by refusing to merge his party with the Congress and even having an electoral tie-up with the national party, in what’s now seen as a “political master stroke”.

As the process of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh got underway, Rao highlighted that “reconstruction” of Telangana would only be possible with TRS and not with Congress, TDP or BJP. With people adequately reposing faith in his leadership, TRS has secured majority by winning 63 of the 119 assembly seats in the region.

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