Wednesday, June 10, 2015

KCR Versus Naidu: A 'Soured' Relationship Beyond Repair

The relationship between Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhara Rao popularly known as KCR and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Nara Chandrababu Naidu goes back to the late 1970s. The once close friends have turned bitter enemies in the late 1990s and early 2000s have crossed swords once again. 

While Naidu hails from the southernmost part of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, KCR hails from Medak in Telangana. Interestingly, both of them started their career in the youth Congress in the 1970s. Both fought on the Congress ticket against N T Ramarao's newly founded Telugu Desam Party or TDP in the historic 1983 Assembly elections, which made NTR the first non-Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. KCR and Naidu lost that election to the TDP.

Both Naidu and KCR joined the TDP and won 1985 Assembly polls. Naidu is the son in law of legendary NTR and KCR was NTR’s trusted man in Telangana region. When Naidu revolted against his father in law and the then chief minister of AP NTR in 1995, KCR had sided with Naidu against NTR. A grateful Naidu had made him a Cabinet minister later. Their relationship turned sour after the 1999 assembly elections in which Naidu retained power on his own. KCR was eyeing a better and bigger ministerial portfolio after the big victory. 

But, Naidu forced him to accept the insignificant post of Assembly Deputy Speaker, denying him a plum Cabinet berth. Insulted and humiliated KCR swore revenge. He quit the TDP in 2000 to launch his own Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to fight for the creation of a new state. At that time, it was seen as a stupid and the most foolhardy decision by Naidu’s backers. They had dismissed KCR as a failed politician. Naidu was at the peak of his popularity and was playing a big role at the national politics. Then not many knew KCR outside AP. KCR took a huge risk and challenged Naidu hegemony in a daring act.

In the 2004 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, KCR tied up with the YS Rajasekhara Reddy led Congress. Proving everybody wrong, YSR-KCR combine swept the polls decimating Naidu government. KCR joined the UPA – 1 government at the Centre as a Cabinet minister and got Labour and Employment portfolio. However he walked out of the UPA-1 and the YSR government in 2006 over the Telangana issue. After that they turned bitter enemies once again.

KCR and Naidu also trading charges against each other became a regular feature after that. Both Naidu and KCR’s parties suffered defeat in the 2009 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. They went into political depression till YSR died in a helicopter crash in September 2009. After YSR’s death, there was a political vacuum in AP and a clever KCR exploited it to revive and re-launch Telangana movement.

Proving the sceptics wrong, in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, KCR and Naidu rode to power. Soon after that, they had several acrimonious fights over the distribution of assets and other issues between the two states. KCR always treated Naidu like someone who had stabbed him in the back. Naidu always treated KCR with jealousy and contempt.

The current ‘Cash for Vote’ scam involving Naidu has not come as a shocker for the people who have an understanding of their complex relationship. Since the documents are against Naidu in this case, he is facing a huge political crisis. There are reports that Telangana police can even make him main accused in the case creating more troubles for Naidu. In a typical ‘tit for tat’ move Naidu has registered a criminal case of telephone tapping against KCR. Some TDP insiders feel that it is Naidu’s insurance against a possible charge sheeting or worse possible arrest in the case. By filing a telephone tapping case against KCR, he has prevented him from proceeding against Naidu and his associates.

This incident is likely to escalate the tension between Telangana and AP and further damage the relationship between KCR and Naidu. It seems that their relationship has soured beyond repair and reconciliation. The coming days are going to be stormy for both.

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