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Advantage KCR for now, but…


After conducting probing interviews of more than 30,000 high-profile celebrities and masters of success from across the spectrum, Oprah Winfrey once revealed that they all had one common trait-each one was striving to get validation from the others!

Getting validation from the society is rather easy when you have an enemy. For instance, take any revolution or upsurge and one will find that people rallied against a common enemy and triumphed, sooner or later.

The draconian British Raj was enemy number one for the masses during India’s freedom struggle. Barbaric apartheid and the atrocious imperialism were enemies for South Africans and Cubans, respectively. In the process of building up a popular sentiment against the enemy are born leaders.

They mobilise, strategise and mesmerise till the aim is achieved. Once the enemy is conquered and the target is reached, the real test of the leaders begins. It has often been noticed that in the absence of an enemy, these individuals falter as leaders.

K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who successfully spearheaded a high-voltage agitation for a separate State, seems to have now caught in a similar situation. For the first time in his two stints as Chief Minister of Telangana State, KCR appears to be under a siege from various quarters, including from his trusted lieutenants, for varied reasons, though.

Making impractical off-the-cuff announcements is proving costly and is boomeranging on him. Driven by high-levels of self-belief, and to keep the people, nay voters, in good humour, the master orator is springing surprises with preposterous schemes and policies.

To make it worse, he vowed that he would prefer to cut his head off instead of failing to honour his word, least realising that he has been promising the moon to a public that can no more be taken for granted. A section of leaders, imported from other political parties, is creating ‘all is well’ situation by praising the emperor’s new clothes.

The ruling party is thoroughly cornered for his failure to appoint a Dalit chief minister, a promise he made when the Telangana movement was at its peak. In the process, he has been serving fodder to the opposition parties, which are ready with a list of ‘KCR lies’.

Not ironically, there is no rebuttal from KCR or his family despite largescale corruption charges levelled against them by BJP and Congress leaders. Mounting debts, sale of government lands, rising unemployment percentage, and abysmal health-education facilities are being lapped by his detractors. Education, especially higher education, is in tatters and the state-run universities need faculty and funds. A key component of the electorate, the government employees, goes without salaries on time. They would be seething with rage and may hit back on D-Day, a backlash that unseated NTR and N Chandrababu Naidu when they rubbed the government employees on the wrong shoulder. The KCR government is showing Covid-19 as an excuse for this while the public servants wonder as to how the government ‘manages’ funds for implementing a plethora of ambitious schemes like ‘Rythu Bandhu’ and ‘Dalit Bandhu.’

Like how his former boss N Chandrababu Naidu bestowed TDP General Secretary position to his son N Lokesh, KCR made his son the party’s working president, which I deem is a fundamental blunder that he has committed. KCR would have done a world of good to his own popularity and that of TRS had he passed on the baton to his nephew and ‘people’s man’

T Harish Rao and allowed KTR to warm up to the gaddi

The TRS applecart was upset with the ouster of Eatala Rajender, once a righthand man of KCR. The wounded Eatala has added ammunition to the trigger-happy State BJP chief Bandi Sanjay and the equally vociferous MP D Arvind since joining the party. On its part, the State Congress, which failed to reap the benefits of awarding statehood, has invigorated itself following the elevation of Lok Sabha member and KCR bête-noire A. Revanth Reddy as the new TPCC chief.

He proved his nuisance value beyond doubt with a series of programmes and yatras against the government. In addition to anti-KCR intellectual and YouTube channels, two more new entrants-YS Sharmila and Dr RS Praveen Kumar- stepped up attacks on the ‘inept’ state administration.

A prominent Dalit voice, Dr RSP has dented KCR’s grandiose plans to woo the marginalised communities with Dalit Bandhu, in the run up to the by-election to Huzurabad, with some right questions. The kidnap-cum-arrest of an active journalist Raghu of ‘Toli Velugu’ and the arrest of Teenmaar Mallanna of ‘Q News’ have caused enormous harm to the reputation of the KCR government.

Both the daredevils have emerged as a powerful alternative to the cozy media houses and are lending unequivocal voice to the Dalit assertion in Telangana. Even as the mainstream media is treading a cautious path in criticising the government, especially KCR and KT Rama Rao, some web channels are exposing the chinks with gay abandon.

Case in point is young Raghu’s ground-report on the recent rain-hit villages in KTR’s constituency. The hard-hitting editorialised report prompted the KTR cadre to launch damage- control measures. I was stunned to see a woman mustering courage to directly ask KTR about the rationale behind his visit after the flood waters had receded.

Like how his former boss N Chandrababu Naidu bestowed TDP General Secretary position to his son N Lokesh, KCR made his son the party’s working president, which I deem is a fundamental blunder that he has committed. KCR would have done a world of good to his own popularity and that of TRS had he passed on the baton to his nephew and ‘people’s man’ T Harish Rao and allowed KTR to warm up to the gaddi.

If KTR shows respect to democracy, he is not a misfit to the position. A Rajya Sabha slot given to another kin J Santosh Kumar has expectedly drawn open criticism. KCR has been so conspicuous with his absence that seeing him in flesh and blood was a rarity, until recently. He is widely criticised for not attending his duties from the Secretariat and being confined only to his farm house. Although belated, it is good that he has started touring villages and taking up review meetings.

A daily dose of pungent statements from the strong mass leaders from the Telangana movement, betrayed by the leadership after winning elections, is further damaging the reputation of KCR. If the ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey by India Today is any indication, then KCR needs to go in for an appropriate correction course by making suitable amends on a priority basis.

Options on hand

The next Telangana Legislative Assembly election is slated for December 2023 at the latest. In all probability, KCR may prefer an early election and at a time that suits his party. For a battle-scarred veteran like him, two years is more than sufficient time to turn the tide in his favour.

So far, KCR could not project his government as an inclusive one. The quality of his cabinet has always been questionable and the statements of some ministers are ridiculously laughable. It needs a lot of guts to run the state without a health minister when Covid is wreaking havoc.

In hindsight, this is foolhardy because a dedicated minister is needed to restore people’s confidence. This can be brought about by an immediate overhaul of the government health system. One wonders what is preventing KCR from appointing a team of the best medical brains to come up with an action plan to deal with the situation.

It may be recalled that NT Rama Rao summoned eminent radiologist Dr Kakarla Subba Rao from the USA in 1986 to take care of Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), the super-specialty hospital for the poor. The Nizam Orthopaedic Hospital, ‘bokkala davakhana’ in Telugu, was transformed into a premier medical institution and is modelled on All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Now it is one of the best medical institutes in patient services, in terms of access and affordability; medical education; training and research.

Officers like Akunuri Murali, an expert in poverty alleviation and school education, were underutilized or sidelined for their no-nonsense and independent approach. With hands tied and mouths sealed, ministers and civil servants are suffering in silence, causing immense loss to the nascent State.

Reportedly, except for KTR (and for obvious reasons), no other minister can operate independently. KTR gets umpteen Twitter SOS messages seeking urgent medical help and his prompt reaction to provide succour is showing the government in poor light. What has a Municipal and IT minister got to do with medical issues, ask people?

Is it not humiliating for any health minister? The mouthpieces of the ruling party hail this as a humanitarian gesture but the entire exercise is seen by the Opposition, quite justifiably at that, as an attempt to project the young leader as the undisputed alternative to KCR.

A noticeable change in Telangana is the unity of opposition parties in creating awareness against freebies. All political opponents of KCR are talking about the dangers involved in transferring cash to beneficiaries instead of arriving at near-permanent solutions to vexatious problems.

All said and done, the game is not over for TRS. It has a strong cadre and a majority of the beneficiaries of various schemes won’t betray it. A most important aspect that TRS can cash in on is that the opposition is divided and they lack a collective wherewithal to mount a major offensive against the ruling party. Simply put, for as long as the opposition parties don’t come under one umbrella, it will be advantage KCR. It remains to be seen how the maverick at the helm will withstand the onslaught and ensure a hat-trick in the next Assembly elections.

(The author, a PhD in

Communication and Journalism, is a senior journalist, journalism educator and communication consultant)

(The opinions expressed in this column

are that of the writer. The facts and

opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of The Hans India)


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