A very presumptuous KCR Even before the results are in some people in the Opposition have begun the task of government-making. That it may prove futile as the incumbent prime minister might well get his mandate renewed for another five-year term has mattered little to these day-dreamers. They believe in catching the early bird of power in case it might slip out of their grasp otherwise. Among these highly ambitious leaders is the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
He has undertaken well-publicised peregrinations to bolster his half-baked idea of a federal front. Supposed to be equidistant both from the BJP and the Congress in a post-poll scenario, the FF would try and cobble together a coalition to rule the country minus the two national parties. Such a composition of the 17th Lok Sabha rendering the two national parties virtually redundant to government-formation is most unlikely.
But then it is a free country, everyone, including KCR, as the leader of the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi is called in popular parlance, has every right to fancy himself as an important cog in the new arrangement at the Centre contemplated by him. It seems KCR has an eye on deputy prime minister’s post in a FF coalition while obviously the top job in his imagination would go to a regional party from the North.
(And he would pass over the chief ministership of Telangana either to his son or daughter.) But KCR began his quest for inflating the third front balloon from the South. He met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last week. How many seats the Left Front would get is unclear but all indications suggest the Communists are doing poorly both in Kerala and West Bengal.
KCR’s next stop was Chennai. Here, he talked with Chief Minister E Palanisamy of the AIADMK. Again, the AIADMK front is unlikely to get many seats in the first post-Jayalalithaa election. What transpired at the meeting is not known, but the fact that the AIADMK heads a broad electoral front in Tamil Nadu of which the BJP too is a key constituent makes the talks a bit premature. On Monday, KCR met DMK President M K Stalin in Chennai.
DMK is an integral part of the Congress-led UPA and contested the poll as such was seemingly unimportant. KCR’s mission was to persuade Stalin to support the FF. The DMK leader was unwilling to dump the Congress, at least at this juncture. How he can expect to pull in both the AIADMK and the DMK under the same FF tent seems inconceivable, but KCR cannot be blamed for not making the effort.
Apparently, the TRS chief is now keen to meet the Karnataka Chief Minister and leader of the JD(S) H D Kumaraswamy with whom he has had public differences. Since Kumaraswamy heads a JD(S)-Congress coalition, KCR wants to use his services to reach out to the Congress leadership. His relations with the Congress had embittered further at the time of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two separate states following the creation of Telangana.
The objective is to persuade the Congress to support a FF government from outside. A press release issued by a TRS leader in Hyderabad on Monday said as much when it stated that in no case would a FF government have either the Congress or the BJP as part of it. But Congress was welcome to lend it support from outside. Given that his journeys have pointedly omitted a halt in North India would suggest that the so-called FF is set to be a non-starter.
At least, this gives KCR an opportunity to try and hog limelight and shed the image of a regional leader confined to his own State. This way his followers can have something to gloat about. His counterpart in Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu too has sought to play a match-maker at the Centre in a post-election scenario when no party gets a clear mandate.
Unfortunately for them without the participation of regional leaders from UP and Bihar no such talks spearheaded by a southern chief minister can make any headway. Nor do KCR and Naidu enjoy such a status that they can single-handedly sway the ebb and flow of the central polity. And crucially, isn’t it a bit presumptuous of them to try their hand at coalition-making before May 23rd? All their efforts can come to naught if the present incumbent wins a second straight mandate.