Absence Of A Strong Rival Helps KCR Rule The Roost
Located about 40 km from Warangal, Narsampet is a vibrant rural-town in Telangana. Madhusudan Gupta, who owns a rice business, is an avid news watcher.
His shop, tucked in a row of shops in a bustling junction in the town, has a small TV fixed on the wall opposite his seat. For almost 14 hours a day, he watches news streams of almost all Telugu channels.
He would watch the panel discussions on politics while having morning tea and winds up his day watching the 11 pm bulletin. This helped him form firm opinions on all issues confronting the state, he says.
When asked about his opinion on the one-year rule of KCR (Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao) in the second stint he said he was not happy and that the KCR government was not up to par.
For him, KCR is wise and unbeatable with a streak of arrogance. He has promoted dynasty politics and corruption has not come down. But unhesitatingly he said he voted for TRS and would do so in future as well, till there emerged a suitable leader against KCR.
‘‘పాలిటిక్స్అంటే లీడర్షిప్. ప్రజలను తన వైపు తిప్పుకోగలిగిన తెలివితేటలండాలి. ప్రభుత్వంలో చాలాలోపాలున్నాయి.పరిపాలనలో కూడా ఉన్నాయి.అయినాసరే కెసిఆర్ ను మాత్రమే తెలంగాణ ప్రజలు నాయకుడిగా గుర్తించారు.ఇపుడు రాష్ట్రంలో ఎవరికీ అంత తెలివితేటలు లేవు.ఆయనకు సాటిలేదు. పోటీలేదు.’’
What he says translates to - “Politics means leadership. A leader should be able to win over the masses. People should accept you as a leader. Despite shortcomings, KCR has achieved this. No leader in Telangana measures up to KCR. So, it is ‘KCR versus none’ situation in Telangana.”
Gupta, whose name is changed at his request, personifies the general mood in Telangana. It is very rare to get positive feedback on KCR’s style of governance.
Most people speak like opposition leaders on KCR’s failures. But they see no one to rival KCR in state politics.
Politically speaking, this is the reason for KCR’s magic being intact even after six years. KCR won the second term with a huge majority in December 2018 followed by a landslide win in panchayat and zilla parishad elections. Recently he wrested the prestigious Huzurnagar Assembly constituency in a by-poll from the Congress. A similar performance is expected in the forthcoming municipal elections as well.
The 52-day-long RTC strike, which finally ended up in surrender of employees recently, is being hailed as a victory for the ‘Chanakya’ in KCR. Though the handling of the strike was slammed as most undemocratic, it is almost forgotten.
RTC employees have discovered a new God now in him, for his post-strike generosity and they perform ‘ksheerabhisekham’ at every given opportunity. The elimination of the four accused of Disha’s gruesome gangrape-murder in an encounter is also seen as KCR’s brilliant strategy that made people forget their resentment against the chief minister.
Now, at the end of the first year in his second term, the writing on the wall is clear. The government is no longer in comfort zone and tough times are staring it in the face, as financial commitments for welfare measures and projects launched in the first term are well beyond the ways and means available for the state. Fiscal profligacy in the first term and economic slowdown now has started hurting the government.
In the first term (2014-2018) KCR enjoyed the fruits of the successful Telangana movement. As the protagonist of the agitation for statehood, he received unwavering moral support since the memories of the 14-year-long movement was fresh.
This emboldened the chief minister to launch numerous major projects, discarding the ones started by the previous Congress government of united Andhra Pradesh. These projects are nowhere near completion.
The cost overruns and the welfare schemes, mostly cash transfer schemes, are expected to put an enormous burden on the exchequer.
The first indication of the shape of the things to come was revealed at the time of presentation of Budget 2019-2020 by none other than the chief minister himself. The CM had to cut the budgetary spending by a fifth, pointing to the economic slowdown and dip in the revenues.
This seems to have affected not only the progress of ongoing projects but also the implementation of welfare measures such as Rythu Bandhu, farmers' loan waiver, 2BHK etc.
Schemes like an allowance for the unemployed are yet to see the light of the day. Of all the schemes, Rythu Bandhu and the loan waiver are said to have played a major role in the massive win of TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti) in the 2018 elections. With meagre allocations made in Budget 2019-2020 for the flagship program, the Rythu Bandhu has faltered in the second term’s first year itself.
For the first time since 2014, the state which was born rich with surplus revenues, has recorded a steep fall in the otherwise impressive growth rate. At the end of the third quarter of 2019-20, the state, which reported a growth rate between 17% and 19% in the last five years, has hit a 25-quarter low with a mere 4.5% in July-September quarter. The chief minister instructed ministers against spending over and above the allocated amounts. KCR is blaming the centre for the state’s financial woes.
Professor Kodandaram, KCR’s bitterest critic said the chief minister was planning to unleash a new blame game to cover up his own follies. “KCR launched new schemes instead of completing old ones. He did not pay heed to the advice of experts on Kaleshwaram. Now he is not able to complete any project such as Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya. So he is searching for an alibi to prune funds for fee reimbursement scheme, Raithu Bandhu, etc. People won’t accept this,” Kodandaram told The Lede.
BJP MPs Dharmpuri Arvind, Bandi Sanjay and Soyam Bapu Rao issued a statement saying that the Centre had already given the funds due for the state, and that KCR owes an explanation to the people as to how the central funds had been spent.
Talk has already begun among the political circles that KCR is preparing to launch an all-out war with the centre keeping in view the crucial elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and other urban bodies. If the TRS were to win the GHMC and municipal elections, the hype would propel KCR into 2020 with renewed vigour.
A journalist from Warangal terms KCR as a lucky leader who could weather any storm with uncanny ease in the absence of a credible opposition. The historic RTC strike, he said, bears testimony to this.
“The strike, which claimed 25 lives, would have spelt disaster for any other chief minister. But KCR finished the strike as well as employees’ unions with his adamant anti-strike stand,” he said, adding that KCR has the knack to bounce back stronger after every controversy or crisis.