A Prime Minister from south India in a non-BJP, non-Congress concoction at the centre is Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s mission, say sources, as his meeting with his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday piqued political interest.
Mr Rao, aka KCR, discussed a federal front minus the BJP or the Congress, on the lines of the “1996-formula”, at the meeting, according to sources.
The “1996 formula” has not seen very successful prototypes. In the late 1990s, three prime ministers who took power at the head of unstable coalitions came and went in quick succession.
KCR, who has been at the forefront of “Third Front” moves over the past year, has also reached out to Congress allies like Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, whom he dialed yesterday, and DMK’s MK Stalin. These attempts are set against the final rounds of the marathon national election, which will end with results on May 23.
But sources in the DMK today said that Mr Stalin was “busy” with campaigning for the last round of voting on May 19, indicating a meeting on the 13th – announced by the Telangana Chief Minster’s office – won’t happen. KCR’s daughter and parliamentarian K Kavitha later said that no meeting had been fixed yet.
Sources say in his meeting with Pinarayi Vijayan, who leads a Left front government in Kerala, KCR proposed a prime minister “preferably from south India” but took no names.
Making his case, the Telangana Chief Minister reportedly reminded Pinarayi Vijayan of Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad in Kerala against a Left candidate, when even the BJP is not in the contest (its ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena or BDJS is contesting).
KCR’s assessment, according to sources, is that “neither the BJP nor the Congress will be able to form a government even with their present allies”. The two parties won’t even get anywhere near the halfway mark, he predicts.
Calling the meeting “politically very significant”, Mr Vijayan today said, “According to KC Rao, both the fronts may not get a majority. So, the regional parties will play a prominent role. There were no discussions about the PM candidate… Further discussions (on names, other details) will take place after results.”
Mr Vijayan had reportedly told KCR that his CPM’s central leadership would take a call on his plan after May 23. The outreach to the Left is a first by KCR.
Mr Rao had sent feelers to the DMK last year and even met party patriarch M Karunanidhi and his son Mr Stalin. The situation changed after Karunanidhi died a few months later and the DMK renewed its alliance with the Congress.
KCR also plans to travel North and East with his plan, and meet Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Last year, these meetings didn’t yield much. He met Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, but was stood up by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav when he travelled to Delhi to meet them.
Sensing that regional parties could play an important role in the next government, KCR decided to dissolve his government in Telangana and go for early polls last year. He was seen to prep for a role in national politics.
But the Congress has dubbed KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi the “B Team of the BJP” and believes his efforts to rustle up a federal front will only help the BJP.
Though he has projected himself as equidistant to the BJP and the Congress, the Telangana chief minister has often been seen as backing the ruling party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on various issues.