For many in Telangana, the defeat of K Chandrashekar Rao, the Founder-President of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which spearheaded the Telangana movement, is unthinkable. But, for those who were closely watching the developments in the State for the last 10 years know that the writing on the wall was clear.
Though his government won accolades for topping the Ease of Doing Business list in the country, it failed to provide the same access to the government for the common people. The disappointment was palpable.
KCR, who built the party from the scratch after quitting the Telugu Desam Party in 2001, rallied around people and leaders to garner support for a separate State for Telangana. Though the demand was not quite new to the State, KCR rekindled a hope as he involved people from all walks of life to build the movement.
An excellent orator, he can make the audience listen to him with rapt attention. With flawless Telugu and Urdu, studded with anecdotes and chaste Telangana idioms, his speeches cast a spell on Telangana people, who rallied around him during the 13-year-old movement for a separate statehood.
With a handful of like-minded people, KCR floated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001, with the sole aim of achieving Statehood for Telangana. He used all means, tying up with the Congress and Telugu Desam Party in the 2014 and 2009 elections, and employed a variety of means to keep the dream alive and sustain the movement. He held discussions with writers, intellectuals and others to discuss and understand various issues that dogged the region.
Even his bitterest critics would accept that no other contemporary politician knows Telangana like KCR does. His focus on irrigation projects was an example. He dedicated over 25 per cent of each of the budgets for building the Kaleshwaram project on a war footing. He focussed on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and attracting investments, despite a not-so-friendly NDA Government at the Centre. But people perceived him to be a leader who is not approachable.
One of the key criticisms against KCR is his approach to people around him. During the Telangana movement, he made friends with everyone and roped in every single resource that he thinks can strengthen the cause.
It did really work wonders as political leaders from all hues supported the Telangana Joint Action Committee, a broad front set up with his initiation. Students, RTC employees, farmers, writers, cultural activists, doctors, engineers, civil rights’ activists, NGOs, leftists of all hues, and teachers – all of them worked together under the JAC.
But after assuming power, he burned those bridges. He kept himself out of bounds for them. From Kodandaram, who headed the JAC, to Eatala Rajender, a close confidante of him during the movement, to students and teachers – he turned his back to them.
“The Pragati Bhavan (the sprawling Camp Office at Begumpet that virtually doubled as the State’s Secretariat for nine years, will become People’s Bhavan. It will be freely open for people,” Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President A Revanth Reddy says, addressing his maiden press conference after the Congress’ victory.
KCR will have to take this statement with a pinch of salt as it was kept out of reach for those who stood by him in difficult days.
His defeat in Kamareddy, the constituency that he contested from, shows how angry the people are with a man who was instrumental in helping them achieve a long-cherished dream. The 69-year-old frail man, who dreamed of a national role by turning TRS into Bharat Rashtra Samithi, now makes an unceremonious exit.