TRS is now Bharat Rashtra Samithi: Will KCR’s gamble to change name pay off?

New Delhi: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s attempt to catapult his party TRS to the center of national politics by changing its name is being followed by political pundits. Some see it as a move that could boost its status nationally, while others fear it could turn into an accident. In a politically significant development in the regional political landscape, the two-decade-old Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was renamed Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) on Wednesday, with the aim of establishing KCR as a national leader.

The resolution for the name change was passed by the party’s general assembly in Hyderabad as party workers cheered and banners with slogans such as “Desh ka neta KCR”, “Dear India, he is coming” and “KCR is on the way” were prominently displayed around the location of the meeting. Several analysts also suspect the idea is an exercise to bolster its party base in the state — where the BJP makes its entrance and intensifies political activity ahead of the 2023 election polls — by shifting its focus to national issues.

However, it remains a big question whether TRS – founded in 2001 with a singular agenda of creating a separate Telangana state – will succeed in taking some space in national politics; whether KCR’s leadership will be accepted in other states, especially in the North.

KCR is not a politician who does things for no reason. His plan to enter national politics stems from his ambition to fill a vacuum caused by a lack of formidable opposition to the BJP-led ruling National Democratic Alliance at the center, a political analyst said.

In addition, the 68-year-old Telangana leader believes his party has managed to win the support of women, farmers and marginalized groups through various welfare schemes. Some of the most important programs are: ‘Rythu Bandhu’, which covers the initial investment needs of every farmer; ‘Dalit Bandhu’ — under which one-time capital assistance of Rs 10 lakh is provided to each SC family to set up a suitable income generating business; ‘KCR Kit’, a support of Rs 12,000 for pregnant women to care for themselves and the newborn child and ‘Aasara’ pensions for all the poor.

By renaming TRS and repositioning it as a “national” party, KCR is also looking at a pole position in opposition politics ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

As the main opposition Congress party struggles to reverse its slide into the country’s electoral politics, major regional parties across the country are trying to forge a united front against the ruling BJP. KCR, which has long championed the idea of ​​a non-Congress, non-BJP opposition, would like to play a pivotal role in such an alliance.

But not everyone shares that optimism. M Kodandaram, founder of Telangana Jana Samithi and political analyst, feels: “It is the first time that a state recognized party like TRS renames itself BRS. It will be an accident”.

He further added that Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had a strong presence in the united Andhra Pradesh, is a registered national party but has made no progress at the national level and is a similar case with the AIMIM, which is mainly based in the city of Hyderabad. Both TDP and AIMIM have not renamed their parties, he added.

“KCR has an identity as prime minister at the national level, but it is not enough to build a national party,” he noted. As the BJP intensifies its political activity in the state, KCR wants to shift its focus to national issues, another analyst said.

It is a “bet” that he will plunge straight into the national arena, said the analyst at the well-known Kautilya Institute of Public Policy (KIPP) on condition of anonymity. As the politics of the country changed after the 1980s with the emergence of regional forces, parties like SP, BSP, RJD, JD(U), DMK and others have played a national role, either by building alliances or by forming pressure groups. to shape.

KCR is trying to work on the sense that the small regional parties individually have not been able to assert themselves effectively at the national level, but collectively they can and will replace the traditional opposition to become a formidable opposition.

In the recent past, KCR has met with several regional party leaders, including JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and others, and advocated a ‘non-BJP, non-congress’ alliance . However, most of these parties have maintained that there can be no united opposition without Congress, as it can ultimately only help the BJP.

Speaking of KCR’s national aspirations, political commentator K Ramachandra Murthy said that either poaching a national leader or merging with small parties was one of the ways to become a national party.

Some political analysts are optimistic about KCR’s move. Another KIPP analyst said: “Anyone can come and bring a political alternative. Who knows if they will win or not?”

It may or may not bring a “significant advantage” to KCR at the national level, but it will certainly help “improve its image” from a regional to a national leader, allowing him and his party in Telangana to consolidate his position with a view to on BJP’s strong move to launch “Operation Telangana,” the analyst said.

Regardless of the outcome at the national level, it is a win-win situation as he has nothing to lose, the analyst added. To realize its national ambitions, KCR also counts on the voices of Dalits, tribals and farmers. In his state, he has increased the reservations for scheduled tribes from 6 to 10 percent.

He also helped financially the relatives of some Delhi and Punjab farmers who lost their lives during the agitation at the Delhi-Haryana border in 2020-21, introducing himself as a pro-farmer leader. He is also considered a pro-Islamic leader due to his close alliance with AIMIM. Many ministers in his cabinet are Muslims.

The pro-Muslim and anti-BJP votes could happen to him, one analyst said, adding that there is also a good 14 percent Muslim voter base in the country. Time will tell whether KCR’s ‘gamble’ to rename his party will help his ambition achieve or become just an ‘accident’.

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