Egoless backing to KCR's BRS, need of the hour to thwart BJP

KCR, as he is fondly known, is ready to move beyond Telangana, the state he was instrumental in founding

Egoless backing to KCRs BRS, need of the hour to thwart BJP

THE general elections of 2024 are getting ever closer now. In their own way, various opposition parties across India have made their bugle calls. Nitish Kumar and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar have dumped the BJP-led NDA (again!).

The Trinamool is wavering between carving out a national presence, playing toey-toey with the BJP and then anger at BJP behaviour. The Congress's Rahul Gandhi has embarked on a massive march across India, with the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Uddhav Thackeray has spoken out strongly to his political rivals within his own party and to his opponents, at his Dussehra Rally.

And now Telangana's K Chandrashekar Rao has changed the name of his political party from Telangana Rashtra Samithi to Bharat Rashtra Samithi. A clear signal, amidst several hints, that KCR, as he is fondly known, is ready to move beyond Telangana, the state he was instrumental in founding.

The problem, however, for all of them and for other political parties that are not already part of the NDA is the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Ruling at the Centre and across several states, the BJP is the NDA and remains not just all-powerful but, more importantly in Indian politics, the wealthiest and the current master at manipulation and control. In the past eight years, it has remained dominant, in part because it has not met sufficient political opposition. And because it has used every tactic possible, fair and foul, it has effectively tripped possible opponents before they even made a move.

The first five years, from 2014 to 2019, proved how easily we, as voters, fall for lies when disguised as sweet promises. From 2019 to today, we saw no promises but just massive PR operations to present Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a messiah, regardless of the reality around us.

This elevation of Modi to a veritable divine status makes fighting the BJP very difficult.

Factor in the additional problem: The BJP-led government has managed to very efficiently use the state machinery against all its political rivals. It has thrown all earlier concepts of ethics and morality into the Ganga, together with its notional Clean Ganga Mission. Like Swachh Bharat, we are filthy but we pretend that we are spotless.

Advantage KCR

The advantage that KCR and his newly-named party have is that the BJP's inroads into South India has been sketchy. It has tied up with both the DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, it has partnered with the TDP in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and it has snatched and hung onto power in Karnataka by dubious means, but it has not been able to dominate the South as it has in western, northern and central India.

And, it lost the battle for Bengal, despite displaying all its biggest and most powerful guns. It has been unable to understand the Southern Indian ethos and its best attempt, so far, has been to create social hatred via Hindutva. But it has nothing more than that to offer a part of India which is better run socially and economically. Who can forget the irony of the chief minister of one of India's worst-run and most violent states, Uttar Pradesh, swanning all over the South boasting that he can teach people about crime-fighting and law and order?

Therefore, the BJP will try either to bulldoze or to infiltrate. It will use all the agencies at its disposal to threaten and confuse.

And most importantly, it will work to ensure that the one thing which may affect it is scuttled at first chance: opposition unity. And here we come to that perpetual problem in Indian politics: the ego. The only way to defeat the BJP at the national level is by the coming-together of most of India's opposition and regional parties to withstand the BJP.

And that means compromise and adjustment, those two words which no politician wants to explain to the vote bank. Local politics works very differently from national politics. This is not news. But it is all too often forgotten, in the big fight to claim and then retain power.

No regional party can go it alone at the national level. And there is no victory if you have to eventually end up begging your main opponent for crumbs from his table. The new BRS was announced on Dasara day; the symbolism of the victory of good over evil not lost on anyone.

The next step, to ensure that victory, will be a lot tougher. And give the rest of India some clues on how to take it on from here.

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