K Chandrasekhara Rao, who has been meeting with various political leaders ahead of the national election results, could be angling for a big role in the next government, but not necessarily the top post. Sources say the Telangana Chief Minister has dropped "enough hints" that he is keen on Deputy Prime Ministership. "KCR said regional parties must come together and demand a greater slice of the pie. Not just cabinet berths, but something at a higher level... They should have a say in policy decisions and even the appointment of Governors," a source said. Who will have the pole position in government formation in case of a hung parliament, can be decided only after the results are declared. But Mr Rao's meeting with MK Stalin, the DMK chief who claims to be committed to the alliance with the Congress, is to explore options in case of a split verdict.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao may not be averse to extending support to Congress-led government at the Centre, sources said.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief is believed to have conveyed this to DMK leader M.K. Stalin during the meeting with the latter in Chennai on Monday.
While Rao called on Stalin to drum up support for proposed Federal Front for formation of a non-BJP and non-Congress government at the Centre, the DMK leader suggested that TRS should extend support to Congress-led coalition to prevent BJP from coming to power.
Sources said KCR told Stalin that if Congress emerges as the single largest or second largest party in Lok Sabha, he may not be averse to extending support to it. He recalled that TRS was earlier a constituent of United Progress Alliance (UPA) led by Congress.
KCR’s meeting with Stalin came a week after the TRS chief called on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram to discuss federal front.
Karanata Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s telephonic conversation with KCR last week also came amid stepped up efforts by the TRS chief to give a shape to an alliance of regional parties.
The series of meetings with leaders from south also sparked the buzz that KCR is trying to push for a leader from the south as the prime ministerial candidate.
Despite fact that DMK is an ally of Congress and Stalin on more than one occasion proposed Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the prime minister candidate, KCR’s meeting with him threw hints that he is ready to bury the hatchet and work with Congress.
The Congress is KCR’s main adversary in Telangana and since last month 11 out of 19 MLAs of Congress have defected to TRS.
KCR, who was part of Manmohan Singh cabinet in UPA-I, had cordial relations with Congress leadership. In fact, one of the reasons for Congress granting statehood to Telangana was its calculation that TRS will merge with it.
However, after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, KCR decided to keep TRS as a political entity, evoking sharp reaction from Congress, which accused him of betrayal.
In this context, the meetings with Stalin and telephonic talk with Kumaraswamy are being seen as attempts by KCR to build the bridges with Congress.
It has been a year since KCR floated the idea of Federal Front as an alternative to both BJP and Congress to bring a qualitative change in the national politics.
The agenda he tried to project was the cooperative federalism. He wants the Centre to allow states to grow in true spirit of the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution.
Sources said KCR may be trying to bring southern states on a common platform to demand the Centre to fully implement cooperative federalism by devolving more powers and funds to the states.
The TRS chief remained confident that once the poll results were announced, it would not take much time for Federal Front to take shape. His son and TRS working president K. T. Rama Rao recalled that even UPA had come into existence only after 2004 polls.
The TRS leaders believe that both NDA and UPA will fall short of majority by huge numbers. They predicted 150-160 seats for BJP-led NDA and 100-110 seats for Congress-led UPA.
They are of the view that Federal Front will give a platform to the parties where they can root for their respective states and the rights of the states in more federalistic setup.
TRS is counting on the support from YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), which is likely to win 20-22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh. TRS leaders believe that this along with their 17 (including one seat of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) will give the Telugu states a good bargaining power.
The southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka together have 129 Lok Sabha seats.
TRS leaders expect that if non-BJP non-Congress parties win 150-170 seats, they will be in a position to decide who the next prime minister should be. (IANS)