“We need to increase the average speed of our trucks and trains, therefore we need a new constitution.”
Thus, enlightened KCR in one of his press monologues on why there is a need for him to enter the national political scene. If you are baffled at reading this, then all I can say is welcome to the club! You cannot help but wonder with what seriousness should one take a leader, who is aspiring a “national role” and links the travelling speed of our trucks and trains to amending the Constitution of India?
KCR’s national political dream is not a new one. He began talking about this in early 2018 with the main point that both the Congress and BJP have failed in governing the country. We got a first peek into his thought process when he addressed his party cadre, who came to congratulate him for talking about a national role. He asked them why we can’t change our constitution and rules so that we also progress like how China and Singapore did. He proceeded to give examples on why these parties destroyed the country. Examples that he has been repeatedly citing ever since.
Foremost amongst the examples is Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). KCR claims that the central government has no job laying the roads in the villages because it is only the state government that can understand the actual need of the villages (Listen at 14:04 to his disparaging remarks on this in Hindi). He even questioned the need for a scheme like MNREGA where the centre directly gives money to the beneficiary in the village, bypassing the state government. He questions the need for central government to have hospitals and education institutes. Perhaps you are baffled again and also thinking that I am interpreting his speech wrong. Unfortunately not. Also, these are not one-time utterances that you would tend to ignore. He has cited these examples many times afterwards too, assuming that these are bolstering his case for an alternative national party.
At the time KCR was making this inaugural speech of his national ambitions, most of the problems related to electricity were resolved in the country. 24*7 electricity had become a norm by then. But mysteriously, KCR told us that the centre should focus on providing electricity to the entire country instead of building roads in the villages! At that point of time, he said that the time has come for a Federal Front that isn’t reliant upon the Congress or the BJP. Later, he went about meeting leaders like Stalin, Mamata Banerjee, H.D.Kumaraswamy etc, but nothing concrete ever came out of any meeting. While his massive victory in 2018 bolstered his resolve, the 2019 Lok Sabha election results put a brake to all of these ambitions of KCR (and many such leaders).
In addition to the setback in the 2019 Parliament elections; the subsequent losses in 2 bye-elections and the GHMC election made KCR put these plans in the backburner. In early 2021, KCR gave very strong indications that he will be making his son KTR as the Chief Minister. Everyone assumed that KCR will move on to fulfil his dream of a national role. However, nothing of such sort happened at that point of time (probably because of a severe backlash from various party leaders).
With BJP growing stronger in his own backyard, he fell back on the same plan that almost every regional party employed – hire Prashant Kishor! His increased vitriol (it isn’t criticism anymore) on BJP set the stage again for a resurgence of his national political idea. In addition to the many reasons he was offering earlier, he now announced that the time has come to rewrite India’s Constitution. Whilst people were ready to listen what suggestions he has to offer for the same, he came up with the weirdest explanations and justifications to support his demand!
You must now be thinking that surely, these cannot be the only reasons for him to announce a national role for himself. KCR’s contention is that when he established the TRS in 2001, he faced similar kind of mocking and criticism. It took him 13 years to realise the dream of a separate state of Telangana. His current vision for the country would also require a tapasya of that nature. He contends that the reservations system currently in place in our country is not in tune with the increasing proportion of population of certain groups and this is because of a flawed Constitution we have in place. He says that the time has now come to strip central government of its many powers (and therefore his attacks on programs like MNREGA and PMGSY).
Next, he contends that today the country is simply following what Telangana is implementing. KCR and TRS are on the forefront of a campaign that says Modi is basically copying the schemes of Telangana and implementing them nationwide. To bolster this claim, they cite that the Jal Jeevan Mission is merely an extension of Telangana’s “Mission Bhagiratha”; the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is merely an extension of Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu; the revival of 75 lakes in each district is merely an extension of Telangana’s Mission Kakateeya; and even the recent announcement of filling up of 10 lakh vacancies in central government came after KCR’s announcement of filling up of 1 lakh vacancies in Telangana.
So, in KCR’s mind, he is the one showing direction to the country and not Modi, BJP or the Congress. He’s led the TRS cadre to believe that he is the true national leader of this country. Hence, we now have flexis come up in some cities across the country announcing the arrival of “Desh ki Neta” KCR. The logical next step from the “Desh ki Neta” is to “tour” the country – where he takes his own sweet time to meet a handful leaders spread over multiple days. The “Desh ki Neta” is now busy leaking his next steps to the press – latest being that he will rename the TRS to BRS – Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi and that he will be the National president of the party while continue to be the Chief Minister (though it is his son who is anyway running the show).
He (and PK) seems to be missing the moot point – how does anyone trust KCR? His U-turns on issues and people are now legendary. His vitriol, especially on the BJP and its leaders, has isolated him from a lot of apolitical folks in the state. His lies resonate only with the cadre of the TRS. Till date there has not been a single show of support to KCR from anyone outside of the TRS party. He went city-hopping meeting CMs and Opposition leaders but not a single one of them expressed a whole-hearted support to KCR for any of his plans. As recently as last week, he didn’t attend a meeting of 17 parties who were discussing about the upcoming Presidential election. And most importantly, are the issues he is bringing up really the burning issues for the populace? For example, will he contest elections by saying that he will stop constructing roads and MNREGA? How does he intend to connect to the population with such a directionless agenda in mind? Time will only tell the scale of the failure of this experiment of KCR.