The induction of both son and nephew into the cabinet by Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao shows that he doesn’t want to take any chances in the wake of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) aggressive attempts to consolidate the gains made in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
As the outcome of Lok Sabha polls spoiled his plans to move to Delhi to play a key role in national politics leaving the Chief Minister’s post for his son K.T. Rama Rao, KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, realised that he can’t afford to give any room to the BJP, which is in an aggressive mode to expand its base in the state.
By inducting nephew T. Harish Rao into the cabinet and allotting him key portfolio of finance, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has tried to leave no room for any dissidence in the party.
It was being speculated that KCR was sidelining Harish Rao to pave the way for his son KTR to take over the mantle. He had, in fact, made all preparations for KTR’s elevation by making him the TRS working president after it retained the power with a landslide win in December 2018. KCR wanted to focus on national politics as he had floated the idea Federal Front as an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress.
In the first cabinet expansion, KCR kept both KTR and Harish Rao out, who were part of his previous cabinet.
Holding several important portfolios, like industry, information technology, urban development and municipal administration, KTR had emerged as the number two. His cousin Harish Rao was minister for irrigation.
The buzz in political circles was that Harish was kept out to block any problem in KTR’s elevation after the Lok Sabha polls. But by retaining power at the Centre and with a huge majority, the BJP dashed KCR’s hopes of playing a role in national politics.
KCR also suffered a setback as the BJP increased its tally of Lok Sabha seats to four from just one in the 2014 Lok Sabha. With the Congress too bagging three seats, the TRS failed in its game-plan to win all 17 seats, including a seat of its ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
KCR also suffered a big blow as his daughter K. Kavitha lost to the BJP in Nizamabad. Since then the BJP has been projecting itself as the alternative to the TRS. The BJP central leaders too have started focusing on the state with an aim to gain power in 2023. It also wooed leaders from other parties, including a couple of them from the TRS.
“In such a situation, keeping Harish Rao out could have created a problem for KCR,” said a political analyst.
While KTR has been allotted the same portfolios he was holding in the previous cabinet, Harish Rao has been entrusted with the key portfolio of finance.
“KCR advanced the Assembly election dates and succeeded. This time in the face of aggressive defection planned by the BJP, he didn’t want to take any chances,” analyst Telakapalli Ravi told IANS.
“It also signifies growing vulnerability of KCR and that he can’t afford to take unilateral decisions as he had thought after winning the second term with a massive majority,” he said.
“KCR has taken a measured and less-risky step in his cabinet expansion,” says another analyst P. Raghava Reddy.
Ravi believes KCR will be hard pressed to provide any logical explanation as to why he delayed the inevitable for so long. “Harish Rao also proved his loyalty by not uttering a word of protest or displaying signs of any misadventure,” said Ravi, pointing out that Harish Rao had also offered to work under KTR.
KCR also inducted two women into the cabinet to silence his opponents, who had been targeting him for giving no representation to women in his previous cabinet.