[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he resounding victory of TRS in Telangana has by default revived Chandrasekhar Rao’s idea of a non-BJP, non-Congress third front. And in one stroke, he has nearly banished regional rival Chandrababu Naidu from the national scene. Naidu’s mahagathbandhan move for a national alliance with Congress came a cropper. In fact, one of the biggest take-aways from the current round of Assembly elections has been the failure of Naidu’s Opposition unity front. Now, such a national coalition will have to take energy from elsewhere and the role of Telugu Desam in it will be very limited. In fact, Chandrasekhar Rao has threatened to take his campaign to Naidu’s own territory and expose him.
A certain minimum traction for Rao’s initiative is assured as an informal grouping of a non-aligned group is already in existence. It includes Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik in Odisha and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, which has grown more ambitious in recent times and hopes to do well in the next elections. Similar groups that keep their separate identities exist in places like Haryana and other north Indian states as well. Another potential player could be Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, who has announced his party, but not aligned with either BJP or Congress.
Currently, Rao’s TRS has 11 out of the total 17 MPs in Lok Sabha while YSR Congress has three, with Naveen Patnaik leading a pack of 20 MPs. These three together form a group of about 35 MPs, which is a decisive force in the current Lok Sabha and can form the core of Rao’s non-aligned group. The parties, acting individually, had played a key role in the no-confidence motion against the Modi government in July. As soon as he scored a sweeping victory in the latest Assembly poll, Rao told newspersons that his third force would be a consortium of regional parties and could be firmed up before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as an alternative to both BJP and Congress.
Rao claims that the fractured mandates in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh prove the point that people do not consider Congress as an alternative to BJP, which makes the case for a third front. In both the states Congress has come to power by default, which highlights the need for a viable alternative to the national parties, the space that Rao’s consortium is seeking to tap. Rao feels there is need for a new narrative in national politics to rid the country of its troubles of non-governance and hopes to make Hyderabad an epicentre of such change. In fact, TRS is talking about a realignment of parties so as to reflect the will of the people rather than the ambitions of political leaders. This, according to Rao, necessitates a surgical strike to exorcise the prevailing political system.