KCR’s BRS celebrates Foundation Day with new moniker, newer national ambitions

Celebrating the 23rd Foundation Day on April 27, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is all set to turn a new leaf in its political sojourn, aiming for a grand presence at the national level

BRS Foundation Day

BRS Foundation Day

HYDERABAD: Celebrating the 23rd Foundation Day on April 27, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is all set to turn a new leaf in its political sojourn, aiming for a grand presence at the national level. On this very day in 2001, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) floated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the original identity of the BRS, with the single-minded objective of carving a separate Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

Having achieved Telangana after an arduous 13-year phase of trials and tribulations, KCR is now ready to emulate his own model of success in politics and governance, on a bigger scale and for the benefit of a larger population. The Foundation Day this year has special significance in this context as this will be the first for the party under its new name amid its newer ambitions to spread its footprints across the length and breadth of the country.

Is KCR in a hurry to position his BRS as a potent political alternative to the traditional national players like the BJP and the Congress or the occasional opposition amalgam? The answer is certainly not in the affirmative despite the nationwide buzz he has created with the BRS since the time he unveiled his plans for the bigger canvas. KCR possesses all the requisite traits in his persona in this latest pursuit: ‘Fierce fighter’, ‘unparalleled orator who sways the masses’, a ‘master strategist’ and a ‘man who is the best in trade in leveraging strategic convenience to his advantage’. His diminutive exterior often belies these superlatives. There is one more that quietly gets added to the list: He is also a man of patience, a quality that can only be discerned from his political manoeuvring rather than seen in a jiffy from his actions.

Even several months after the metamorphosis of the TRS into BRS, the chieftain is in no rush to anoint himself as the national president of his party. The eagerness is more towards building the base brick by brick, rather than showmanship as the national president. KCR’s undetailed philosophy in this context runs straight in the face of some ‘national presidents’ whose parties – like the TDP – have never really been able to traverse beyond their traditional regional bastions.

As BRS chief, KCR’s thought process centering around decades of unpardonable neglect shows why he is a trailblazer in more ways than one. His salvos at the country’s rulers (since independence) are loaded with statistical firepower. His anguish on the criminal waste of precious natural resources in the country is palpable in all his speeches. And yet, there is no pomp or grandstanding in his blistering attacks to put ‘KCR, the saviour’ above ‘BRS, the harbinger of qualitative change’ in the country.

National president or not, KCR is quietly but firmly walking his national party through the rigmarole by putting plans on the road to accelerate its activities. A national general secretary has already been appointed to keep the BRS wheel running across the country. Thota Chandrasekhar, a former IAS officer, has been hand-picked as the BRS Andhra Pradesh unit chief to translate the KCR craze among Andhra leaders and public into a credible following for the party.

TRS template for BRS first strides in Maharashtra

The three public meetings of the BRS in Maharashtra, the first such events outside Telangana, have been a runaway success for the party and KCR. The vigour and zest with which these events were organised prove the fact that Maharashtra is indeed KCR’s first focal point beyond Telangana to muster significant electoral gains. On his part, the BRS supremo too did not mince words about his intentions that he is not a mere traveller but a man on a mission. He announced, during all the three public meetings in Nanded, Kandhar-Loha and Aurangabad, that BRS would seek its share of the pie in Maharashtra, beginning with the zilla parishad (local body) elections.

Despite his adeptness in playing the waiting game for the most conducive time, KCR is never known to leave room for ambiguity in unveiling his plans. By announcing to jump into the local bodies election fray, KCR signalled his start point right from the grassroots of Maharasthra politics. Those flummoxed by this decision could be wondering “Why local body elections, why not the legislative Assembly elections in Maharashtra?”

Fighting the local bodies elections in Maharashtra only means taking the traditional route and testing the political waters at the bottom of the barrel. With this, KCR displays his courage and patience to go through the hard grind and set the pitch for a solid groundswell of support for the BRS in the neighbouring state. In fact, this ploy is reminiscent of KCR’s first major strategy for the TRS after he floated the party. Parallels are being quickly drawn to how KCR intrigued everyone then with his decision to fight for the local bodies glory in the Telangana region in the undivided Andhra Pradesh. Even after successfully reviving the Telangana sentiment with the promise to champion the statehood cause, KCR still preferred the grassroot-level elections to check the combat skills of the TRS.

Despite the TRS experience, gained through a rollercoaster of great highs and some forgettable lows, KCR is still looking to use the same template in Maharashtra to get off the blocks on the right footing. A good show in the zilla parishad elections is obviously going to see the BRS’ political stock burgeoning multifold. And that will be a perfect precursor to its future ambitions of emerging as a serious contender in legislative and Parliamentary elections in the western state.

The fact that Maharashtra became the first pitstop for the BRS has its own geo-political considerations. KCR is emboldened by the strong presence of Telugu-speaking Marathi population in the border districts that traditionally have a deep cultural connect with the Telangana side. Coupled with this, are Telangana’s basket of welfare initiatives which rekindled hope among Maharashtra farmers, already reeling under acute drought-like conditions and a perennial power (electricity) crisis.

A few seats gained in Maharashtra local bodies election will only play the catalyst and fast-track KCR’s plans for states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the immediate next phase.

BRS not to stifle opposition unity efforts

A regime change at the Centre and ridding the country of oppressive rule are the core factors that became the genesis for KCR to transform the TRS into the BRS. Contrary to popular perceptions in some quarters, the Telangana Chief Minister going national with his own outfit is not likely to stifle him from working towards opposition unity in the country.

As a seasoned politician, KCR has never slammed the doors shut on any possible permutations that can facilitate the realignment of opposition parties. Having kept all the options open, the BRS can only work as a more handy tool for KCR to forge an opposition alliance, as and when such a need appears on the horizon. The BRS expanding its network beyond Telangana in the form of some electoral gains is also likely to act as a bargaining chip for its supremo in cobbling together alliances of like-minded parties and even leading them from the front.

In fact, KCR knows the art of orchestrating an opposition symphony like the back of his hand. In 2017, a year before the end of his first term as Telangana Chief Minister, KCR made his first tryst in the name of a ‘Federal Front’. While he held confabulations with leaders of various opposition parties, he sent his son K T Rama Rao to YS Jagan’s residence to rope him into his proposed alliance. But with nothing taking shape, he had to shelve the idea and go for an early poll for the Telangana Assembly.

KCR also actively worked for an opposition alliance before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. After garnering nationwide attention, the idea fizzled out this time too after DMK chief M K Stalin expressed his reservations against KCR’s proposal to forge a ‘non-BJP and non-Congress front’. KCR was once again forced to abandon his plans and focus on his home turf for the Lok Sabha elections.

In the post-COVID-19 scenario, where the confrontation between the BJP-led Centre and KCR’s state government reached a flashpoint, he was once again seen intensely renewing his efforts to create a congenial atmosphere among opposition parties for a broader alliance before the 2023 elections.

As the Centre-State relations reached its nadir in the last one year in the face of Narendra Modi Government’s growing discrimination against Telangana, KCR decided to put his foot down and renewed the exercise to reach out to like-minded parties to create a roadmap for an opposition alliance. In the process, he met several national leaders including Nitish Kumar of JD(U), Kumaraswamy of JD(S) and his father and former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann of Aam Aadmi Party and Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena), among many others.

A clear lack of harmony among the other stakeholders made the idea a non-starter but that did not hamper KCR’s grand plans to transform his TRS into a national party under the banner of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). The party has been receiving widespread support and solidarity from leaders across the country, impressed by KCR’s courageous fight against the Centre.

In a sign of his flexibility, KCR is also believed to be keeping his options open with YSRCP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy even after setting his sights firmly on the neighbouring state.

Much water has flowed down the bridge since the inception of TRS in 2001. Celebrating its 23rd Foundation Day, the first under the BRS banner, the party is looking to move into the future with the philosophy and mindset of a national party. A vindication to this effect is likely to come in the form of several resolutions that the party is expected to adopt during its momentous day on Thursday, April 27, 2023.

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