TRS chief Chandrashekhar losing his charisma

June 2nd, 2008 - 1:39 pm ICT by admin  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, June 2 (IANS) K. Chandrasekhara Rao appears to be losing his charisma in Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region, evident from the drubbing his Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) suffered in the by-elections. His gamble of en masse resignations of TRS MPs and state legislators went horribly wrong, triggering a crisis within the party, less than a year before the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

With the sub-regional party’s strength reduced from 16 to seven in the state assembly, the 10-member rebel group has claimed to be the real TRS.

KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, was so shocked by the party’s poor show in the May 29 by-polls that he offered to quit as party president after the results were declared Sunday.

Political observers said it was KCR’s over confidence that led to the crushing defeat. He believed that the Telangana sentiment would return all party MPs and state legislators, thus exposing what he has dubbed is the “Congress party’s betrayal” over Telangana.

He hoped that this would pay him rich dividends in the run up to 2009 elections.

The over confidence led to complacency in the campaign while the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) toiled hard. Adding to KCR’s woes, both the parties tried to convince the people that they were not against a separate Telangana.

TRS could retain only two out of the four Lok Sabha and seven out of the 16 assembly seats.

KCR himself scraped through in the Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituency by 15,000 votes, a sharp fall from the 220,000 majority he received in the by-election last year.

The party was virtually wiped out from Nizamabad and Warangal districts, its strongholds, and even from the state capital, where it lost both the assembly seats it held.

Political observers feel that KCR failed to read the mind of the people who were vexed with him for imposing frequent elections. His rivals said it was a slap on his face for taking 30 million people of the region for a ride and treating the Telangana sentiment as his monopoly.

Whether it is a defeat of the Telangana sentiment calls for debate as TRS managed to retain almost half of the seats by going it alone, but it is clear that the KCR magic is waning due to a variety of factors.

His detractors within the party and outside blame his “arrogance, dictatorial attitude, the kind of language he uses and one-sided decisions” for this situation.

KCR had emerged as a popular leader after he quit TDP in 2001 to float TRS and revive the movement for separate statehood to Telangana comprising 10 districts including Hyderabad.

His wit, tongue-in-cheek remarks with a mix of Urdu words in his inimitable style to highlight the ‘injustice’ meted out to the region and ‘exploitation’ by the Andhra rulers, made him a big crowd puller.

Though TRS won 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats in 2004 elections, the landslide win of its ally Congress party prevented it from becoming a kingmaker.

A clueless KCR then joined Congress-led coalitions both in the state and at the centre, which dented his credibility in some sections, which saw him as a power-hungry.

By pulling out of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2006 and seeking re-election from Karimnagar last year, he tried to salvage his image.

He succeeded in this with a huge win in the by-election. Hoping a repeat of Karimnagar in all other constituencies, he played a gamble which boomeranged on him.

“KCR is a great gambler. He sacrificed Telangana sentiment for his political gamble,” said T. Jayaprakash Reddy, a rebel legislator. He advised KCR to retire from active politics and appealed to the seven legislators to join hands with them in achieving separate state.

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