Ahead of the final phase of the 17th Lok Sabha elections, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday met Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin, as the former continued his efforts to play a key role in the formation of the next government and, in the process, create political space for himself in such a dispensation.
It was supposed to be a bid to cobble up a non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), non-Congress alternative federal front, an articulated objective of Rao (or KCR as he is known) but senior leaders told Hindustan Times that it was also an attempt to send a message to the Congress party. As first reported by this paper, the lines of communication between the two have been open, and the leaders said the DMK has been a go-between.
They added that KCR has conveyed to the Congress leadership, via the DMK, that his party is open to the idea of having a Congress prime minister, but that there are other parties who are considered close to the National Democratic Alliance who may join the coalition-in-the-making as long it doesn’t have a Congress prime minister. For its part, the Congress is said to have conveyed that it is also open to having a regional leader as the prime ministerial candidate.
Officially, the DMK was quick to take credit for its new role. DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai tweeted: “Our leader @mkstalin persuades Telangana CM KCR to support the Congress alliance in a crucial meeting today! #Elections2019 State leaders will be the heroes after # 23 May 2019.”
While this tweet may be simplifying matters, two TRS leaders told HT about the party’s deep unease at the growing influence of the BJP in the south. However, the TRS could still go with the BJP if the results on May 23 favor the latter. Indeed, about a fortnight ago, representatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to KCR’s office. A BJP leader confirmed this. ”The Prime Minister is directly in touch with him,’’ he said on condition of anonymity, referring to KCR.
KCR is also believed to be negotiating on behalf of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), led by Jaganmohan Reddy, in Andhra Pradesh. The two parties hope to have a bloc of around 35-40 seats, a considerable number.
The Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP attacked the DMK, accusing the Dravidian party of hiding from the public the outcome of the meeting.