Will KCR’s BRS Make Any Impact In National Politics?

Maharashtra is the first BRS’ target, reports Aditi Phadnis.

Till recently, 5 Sardar Patel Marg was just another abandoned house in a tony location.

But earlier this year, it was leased for a year — by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), the all-India reincarnation of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

On his way back to Hyderabad after attending Mulayam Singh Yadav’s funeral, TRS supremo K Chandrashekar Rao surveyed his national party’s temporary offices in Delhi.

He also visited in upscale Vasant Vihar the 1,200 square metre plot (allotted by the government) where his party’s permanent Delhi office is being built.

His vaastu expert was in tow, along with trusted ministers and bureaucrats.

Party leaders have been despatched to the Election Commission of India to inform it that though everything else (election symbol, office-bearers, etc) is the same, the TRS is now BRS.

Telangana is doing well, Covid notwithstanding. The 2022-2023 Budget, presented by Finance Minister Harish Rao in February this year, paints an optimistic picture — though things could still go wrong.

Revenue receipts for 2022-2023 are estimated to be more than Rs 1.93 trillion, an increase of 24 per cent over the Revised Estimate of 2021-2022.

Of this, more than Rs 1.33 trillion (69 per cent) will be raised by the state through its own resources (tax and non-tax revenue), and the rest will come from the Centre.

Non-tax revenue in 2022-2023 is expected to go up 13 per cent over the Revised Estimates of 2021-2022.

But the gap between the Budget Estimate and the Revised Estimate in 2021-2022 showed a decrease of 33 per cent, mainly on account of lower tax collected from sales of land and property.

The state government estimates this slippage was an outcome of Covid.

Things might have been worse had the windfall investment from Kitex, the world’s second-biggest manufacturer of children’s garments, not materialised in 2020-2021.

Kitex cited harassment and worse in Kerala to move out of that state and relocate in Telangana’s Warangal district. Nine states were competing for that investment.

Chairman and Managing Director Sabu Jacob’s team was flown in by a special flight from Kochi to Hyderabad and by that evening Telangana Industries Minister K T Rama Rao tweeted the company would invest an initial Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) in Warangal. GAP and Banana Republic buy from Kitex.

In September last year, Kerala-based Malabar Group announced a Rs 7,500 crore (Rs 75 billion) investment to set up a gold and jewellery-manufacturing unit in Hyderabad.

Telangana’s new talking point is going to be the world’s largest pharmaceutical park (190,000 acres) that will be based just outside Hyderabad.

Conscious that pharma is a highly polluting industry, environmental clearances will be available immediately (the state government has done all the work on the back end).

All a company has to do is identify land and start building.

When Wuhan shut down because of Covid, supplies of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) from China also dried up.

To ensure this never happens again, the Telangana facility will have a separate zone only for API and speciality chemicals.

This decision was taken after the Wuhan shutdown, testimony of Telangana’s agility.

All this means huge employment. Little wonder then that KCR believes what has worked in Telangana can work India-wide.

He reckons Telangana is now stable — and it is time to spread the party’s wings.

KCR set up the TRS in the winter of 2001, quitting as deputy speaker of the assembly and resigning from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In the summer of 2001, undivided Andhra Pradesh had local body elections.

The TRS took off so strongly that the TDP got just 10 of the 20 zilla parishads, despite a triangular fight — between itself, the Congress, and the TRS.

Realising its potential, the Congress quickly did a deal with the TRS for the Lok Sabha elections.

KCR’s rallies proved an instant hit.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha and assembly elections, which the TRS fought in alliance with the Congress, the party bagged 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats.

He kept petitioning the Congress to give statehood to Telangana. The Congress continued to prevaricate.

Finally, KCR pulled out of the coalition government, resigning as labour minister, and threatened to expose the Congress for betraying the people of Telangana.

The TRS won the state elections in 2014 and 2018 (polls were advanced).

Since then, there have been setbacks. In 2019, of the 17 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP got four, but it defeated KCR’s daughter, K Kavitha.

The loss in the Huzurabad Assembly by-election (2021, won by the BJP) was humiliating.

Initially, KCR flirted with the BJP. But now, they are bitter enemies.

The assembly by-election in Munugode, scheduled for November 3, will be the best and latest indicator of the direction of the wind.

KCR, meanwhile, is talking to everybody in the Opposition except the Congress.

‘As CM of Telangana, I will travel all over the country. No one should have any doubts about this. A radiant India needs to be made. India will grow better than America if the resources in the country are used at optimum level. We will expand across the country,’ he said at the launch of the BRS.

Maharashtra is the first target of the BRS, especially the farmers’ unions.

That will be followed by an all-India conclave of Dalit outfits hosted in Hyderabad.

Opposition politics is set to take another interesting turn.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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