Hyderabad: “Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country”.
KCR, has a lot of promises to keep.
After all, he had led the 15-year-long movement for a separate state on the promise to create a Bangaru (golden) Telangana.
But as the once rabble-rousing chief of the Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) completed more than three years, his performance throws up a mixed bag.
“BangarTelangana” (Golden Telangana) was the oxygen and KCR with which had so far breathed his politics and hoped to keep it as the traction of his poll plank for the 2019 general elections.
Unfortunately for KCR, the script seems to have gone wrong.
And when thin attempts at headline management and rhetoric over Bangar Telangana appears to have not been working, KCR instinctively switched to a default mode – “polarisation”.
It is something that KCR excels in, as he demonstrated during Telangana movement where his efforts to “regionally polarise” the Telugus on Telangana sentiment catapulted him at the present place.
Consider the display of dog whistle politics that KCR has unveiled in the ongoing Telangana assembly announcing a slew of welfare measures to uplift the Muslim Community including eulogies heaped on Late Nizam of Hyderabad.
Now that promises of Bangar Telangana haven’t played out as they hoped, KCR is turning back to communal polarisation.
Many of the promises to the Muslim community and praising the Late Nizam with a promise of reviving the history of Nizam, in Telangana Assembly may seem bland to the general population but actually signify stirring a Hornet’s nest of communal politics.
His praising the Late Nizam and his vow to take the battle into the Parliament over 12% reservations to Muslims obviously shook the Telangana BJP from its new found slumber in Telangana.
It is well calculated and deliberate “kite” flying by KCR, to disentomb Nizam alive form his grave…
KCR’s return to politics of polarisation – his comfort zone – can be explained by a development which sprung out from unexpected corners.
When Amit Shah, the BJP’s National Strategist, toured Telangana and provoked KCR to engage with him in a slugfest, both the wily politicians attempted to build a discourse that the contest in the 2019 elections would be between ever elusive “Achche Din” (Good days) of Modi and all attractive fantasy called “Bangar Telangana” of KCR, with ailing Congress watching from the side-lines.
Both Shah and KCR went on to play mind games drumming that many Congress stalwarts and seniors were all set to abandon the sinking ship to seek safe havens on the coasts of either the BJP or the TRS.
But, suddenly, to their surprise, out of the blue, the Revanth Reddy narrative altered the script, with the Congress, somehow, winning the first round of perception battle.
Well, whether, Revanth would play a “Bahubali” to prevent the “statue of the Congress” from falling, single handedly, is a conjecture of time.
But, his narrative and subsequent projection of him to be a Bahubali, certainly, checked the fence sitters within the party to postpone their shifting loyalties for time-being, at least.
The script suddenly altered to take the narrative where Congress seemed to have found energy to challenge KCR and project itself as the main alternative to him and not the BJP.
This forced KCR, who feels comfortable to have a communally tagged BJP as an alternative than a revived and energetic Congress.
Thus, both the acts of dishing out a slew of promises to the Muslims and lauding the Late Nizam were less about dealing with the benefit of the Muslim Community, more about giving the BJP a space to trigger communal politics with impunity.
Another reason for KCR’s to dig Nizam’s grave, as local leaders have derisively dubbed it, is that he is sensing that a replay of 2014 results may not be possible if the Congress is allowed to turn as the main alternative.
In 2014, KCR tapped the emotive appeal and strong sentiment for Telangana to reap rich dividends and rode to power.
Come 2019, and he will have to contend with a diminishing sentiment and rising aspirations of the people and more importantly, a new found energetic Congress, which can go to the people asking whether they got the Telangana they aspired for under the KCR’s governance or rather under the autocratic regime of KCR.
Conspiracy theorists in the Telangana political circles see a design behind the seemingly innocuous remarks of KCR in invoking the Late Nizam in the assembly, as after all, KCR simply reiterating the TRS’ position on reservations to Muslims.
KCR in trying to disentomb Nizam from his grave is only doing what Modi did with his “‘kabristan-shamshan’ comment- Communally Polarise the political narrative.
Thus, the echo of "Bangar Telangana" has made way for crass rhetoric, giving the emerging political discourse a clear cut communal turn - thereby paving the way for the politics of religious polarisation.
If you're wondering where would the ‘”Bangar Telangana” slogan go, you will get your answer only after the 2019 elections.