Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), on Wednesday, partially revealed the direction of his rebranded party, Bharath Rashtra Samithi (BRS), known earlier as TRS, in the presence of national leaders.
Speaking at the first public meeting organised on a large scale in Khammam in Telangana, Rao promised to extend the party’s flagship schemes to the rest of the country, covering different sections of voters. He promised to replicate the free power model existing in the state to other parts of the country, as also the Rythu Bandhu scheme, a cash-support scheme for farmers.
Giving a call to Dalits, he spoke about the need to implement the Dalit Bandhu scheme in the country by sanctioning Rs 25 lakh to eligible members of the community to turn entrepreneurs. KCR also demanded 35 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies. He assured that if elected to power at the Centre, the BRS would strive to provide clean drinking water by initiating a project on the lines of Mission Bhagiratha in Telangana.
He was critical of both the BJP and the Congress, ruling out any tie-ups with the latter, which is also the main opposition party in the state. “Did India lose its way? Does it have a goal? This question has been troubling me,” he said earlier. KCR also intends to reverse some of the decisions of the NDA-led government. Abolishing the Agnipath scheme and rollback of privatisation of LIC and Vizag steel plant will be taken up by BRS if they form the government, he promised.
“About 100 retired judges and former IAS officers are preparing the final draft of the policies of BRS,” he said and added that very soon he will present the detailed draft in front of the people.
As expected, KCR stated that they will work with CPI and CPI(M), giving some clarity about a pre-poll tie-up with the Communist parties in the state and country.
Present on stage were three chief ministers, Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, Bhagwant Mann of Punjab and Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala. Samajwadi Party chief and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and CPI general secretary D. Raja were also among the attendees. Though all the leaders praised KCR and his schemes and laid emphasis on broad cooperation, they stopped short of committing to a coalition with the BRS .
The surprise element in the public meeting, where lakhs of people gathered, was AAP founder Kejriwal. Last month, KCR and key party leaders of BRS went to Delhi to inaugurate a temporary party office. The posters and banners which came up in KCR’s support in the streets of Delhi were pulled down by the Delhi Municipal Corporation which is under the control of AAP. Kejriwal and his party members also did not attend the programme. However, the parties have gotten close with time.
Impressed by the Kanti Velugu scheme and integrated government complex, two important projects of the Telangana government, Kejriwal announced on stage that he wants to replicate them back home. “A few like-minded CMs are coming together and they are talking about governance and development and not politics. There is hope.”
Kejriwal alleged that PM Modi was troubling CMs like him and KCR through governors. “2024 is a big opportunity. Elect a government that will think about people.”
He criticised the BJP government for failing to curtail unemployment and other issues plaguing the population.
One of the first speakers, Kerala CM Vijayan said the BJP was trying to weaken the federal structure of the country. He also felt that the BJP government was destroying judicial autonomy. The Kerala CM expressed concern that efforts are on to create communal polarisation.
Raja and Akhilesh too slammed the current rule of the BJP at the Centre.
Earlier in the day, the leaders joined KCR for breakfast at Pragathi Bhavan, the camp office of Telangana CM in Hyderabad. Later, they flew to Yadadri temple, which is located some distance away from Hyderabad. Except for Raja and Vijayayan, all other leaders were taken on a tour of the ancient temple site. The leaders were then transported in a helicopter to the meeting venue in Khammam.