The Telangana Rashtra Samithi — which has on many occasions sided with the BJP government and backed it on crucial bills — Monday sprang a surprise by deciding to be a part of a joint statement issued by opposition parties condemning the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs. And on Tuesday, it joined an Opposition meeting.
TRS has never been part of the opposition grouping in Parliament. It has not supported the opposition parties on their protest actions either — the latest being the boycott of the Constitutional day. It has, in the past, supported the government on some crucial bills and opposed it on some. For instance, TRS had opposed the three Farm Bills last year.
The TRS along with the BJD were always seen as fence-sitters.
The presence of its Rajya Sabha leader K Keshav Rao at the Opposition meeting, convened by Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, hence evoked surprise. The party has seven members in Rajya Sabha. The TRS’s warming up to the Opposition can be seen in the context of the changing political dynamic in the state.
BJP is emerging stronger in Telangana and posing a challenge to the K Chandrasekhar Rao government. This month, BJP defeated TRS in the Huzurabad by-polls.
Interestingly, TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had been a proponent of a Federal Front. Rao had met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in 2018 but nothing came of it. The parties contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on their own.
Asked about his presence at the opposition meeting, Keshava Rao admitted that there is a perception that the TRS is “closer to the BJP.” He said he wants that perception to go.
“I have always been an opposition man. We have defeated the BJP and got their deposits forfeited in 100 odd seats. What more do you want? I agree with you that there is a perception in the media and even among the people that we are closer to the BJP than the opposition. It is absolutely wrong. I want this perception to go,” he told The Indian Express.
Asked whether he will continue to attend the opposition meetings, he said “I am the opposition. The opposition is part of me.” Asked if the warm-up to the opposition is because of the expanding footprint of the BJP in Telangana, he said “we will support anything which is in the interest of the nation and we will oppose anything which is done against the people which Modi is capable of…The colours of Modi are becoming clearer now a days,” he added.