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With just a month to go for LS polls, BRS faces major crisis

16 Apr, 2024 13:10 IST|Sakshi Post

Hyderabad, April 16 (IANS) With less than a month to go for Lok Sabha elections, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is facing one of the biggest crises since its inception.

Four months after losing power in Telangana, the BRS, previously known as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), has been hit by an exodus of leaders including MLAs, MLCs and MPs.

With two consecutive terms in power in the newly-formed state, the BRS was looking invincible till a few months ago.

However, the defeat in the November 2023 Assembly elections has changed everything.

While it took two months for BRS to come out of the shock of defeat, the last two months have proved to be disastrous for the party.

Under attack from the ruling Congress over allegations of corruption in irrigation projects, especially Kaleshwaram, and phone-tapping during its rule, BRS received a series of setbacks with several leaders switching loyalties to Congress or the BJP.

Five sitting MPs and two MLAs were among the leaders who dumped the BRS to join its rivals.

While the BRS faced few crises in the past, the present one appears to be the biggest ever in its 23-year journey and this came just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Political analysts say a poor performance in the forthcoming elections may aggravate the crisis.

Out of 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BRS had bagged nine in 2019. Though the performance was not to its expectation, the party was unaffected as it had retained power in the state with a huge majority a few months ago.

The BRS successfully overcame the past crises but this was before the formation of Telangana state.

As the champion of Telangana cause, it cashed in on the strong sentiment to bounce back.

While earlier it was then ruling Congress party which had allegedly engineered problems in the BRS, this time both the Congress and the BJP are targeting it.

While three BRS MPs and two MLAs switched loyalties to the Congress, the BJP lured two MPs.

Several other leaders also defected to the Congress or the BJP. The biggest blow came when BRS General Secretary and Rajya Sabha member, K Keshava Rao, seen as the party’s face in Delhi, crossed over to the Congress along with his daughter and Hyderabad Mayor Vijayalaxmi Gadwal.

Keshava Rao, who had quit the Congress to join BRS a year before formation of Telangana, had been a trusted lieutenant for party supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).

Another father-daughter duo dealt the second biggest shock. In a huge embarrassment to the BRS leadership, party candidate for Warangal (SC) Lok Sabha seat, K. Kavya opted out of the contest and wrote to KCR that allegations of corruption and phone-tapping dented the party's image.

Later, Kavya along with her father and BRS MLA Kadiyam Srihari joined the Congress, which decided to field Kavya as its candidate.

Srihari, a former minister and former MP from Warangal, had also served as Deputy Chief Minister during the first term of BRS in power.

With Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy, who is also the President of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) declaring that the party had lifted the gates to allow leaders from other parties, an exodus started from the BRS.

Another BRS MLA, Danam Nagender switched loyalties to the Congress to enter the fray as its candidate from the Secunderabad Lok Sabha seat.

Though the BRS was quick to demand disqualification of the defectors, the Congress party reminded it how BRS while in power engineered defections by luring several of its legislators.

The BRS also lost control of urban and rural local bodies with several Zilla Parishad chairpersons, corporators and other elected representatives shifting their loyalty to the Congress.

Sitting BRS MPs namely G Ranjith Reddy (Chevella), B Venkatesh Netha (Peddapalli) and Pasunuri Dayakar (Warangal) crossed over to the Congress.

Two other MPs, BB Patil (Zaheerabad) and P Ramulu (Nagarkurnool) shifted loyalty to the BJP.

Ranjith Reddy and Patil were renominated by the Congress and BJP respectively.

The BJP also fielded Ramulu’s son Bharat from Nagarkurnool. The arrest of KCR’s daughter and BRS MLC, K Kavitha by the ED on allegations of money laundering in the Delhi excise policy case came as a huge shock both for KCR’s family and the party.

The development has upset the party’s preparations for the Lok Sabha polls.

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy believes that Kavitha’s arrest is a setback for the KCR family but not for the party as she was not a key figure in it after defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The KCR family is trying to put on a brave face in the wake of the exodus.

BRS Working President, KT Rama Rao claimed that crises are not new to the party.

“Ours is a party born out of a people’s movement. It faced such setbacks in the past and overcame it,” he said.

In an apparent attempt to divert attention from defections, Kavitha’s arrest and allegations, KCR started reaching out to people.

With farmers distressed over withering crops due to lack of water for irrigation, the BRS chief chose to visit a few districts to inspect the withered crops and assured farmers that BRS will stand by them.

Highlighting the steps taken by the BRS government during the last 10 years to achieve a turnaround in the agriculture sector, KCR trained guns on the Congress government, blaming its ‘inefficiency’ for failure to ensure water supply for agriculture.

Lashing out at the Congress government for failing to fulfil even a single promise made to farmers in the Assembly elections, KCR urged people to ponder why Congress failed within four months while his government ensured uninterrupted power and water supply and welfare of farmers during the last 10 years.

The BRS chief is also trying to draw home the point that only BRS can safeguard the interests of Telangana.

He is appealing to the people to elect BRS candidates in Lok Sabha polls to ensure that they pressurise the government to address their problems.

Analysts say by taking up people’s issues, KCR is looking to bounce back. The entire party will be looking to the former chief minister to bail out the organisation as he did on many occasions in the past.

KCR was alone when he floated TRS in 2001 to revive the movement for statehood for Telangana. However, he succeeded in mobilising support of many people subsequently and with an impressive performance in 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress, made Telangana a key issue in political discourse.

TRS won 26 out of 42 seats it contested in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly. It also bagged five out of six Lok Sabha seats it contested.

TRS had joined the Congress-led coalition governments in the state and at the Centre. KCR, who became a minister in Congress-led UPA-1 at the Centre, succeeded in placing Telangana on the national agenda.

The Congress party under the leadership of then Chief Minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy later succeeded in weaning away 10 legislators of the TRS.

KCR continued to push the Telangana agenda by imposing bye-elections.

In 2009, he aligned with the TDP and the Left parties but the TRS' tally came down to just 10.

With the Congress retaining power and all odds against KCR, it looked like it was all over for the TRS and the Telangana movement.

The Congress party was trying to lure TRS MLAs and there was a buzz that KCR’s nephew and key leader, T Harish Rao will shift loyalty to the Congress.

“That was the biggest crisis for TRS because there was an impression that TRS and Telangana movement had finished,” said Raghavendra Reddy.

However, the death of then Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash the same year gave an opportunity to KCR to bounce back. His indefinite hunger strike forced UPA-II to announce that the process for formation of Telangana state will be initiated.

When the Centre adopted delaying tactics, KCR joined hands with other pro-Telangana forces to launch a massive movement. Even his worst critics admit that the credit of making 'Jai Telangana' a household slogan goes to him.

When Congress finally gave into the demand and created Telangana state in the hope to get the TRS into its fold, KCR, the wily politician he is, decided to chart his own course.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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