KCR: A leader with indomitable spirit

Mohammed Shafeeq   |  Hyderabad


Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhara Rao, who Monday took over as the first chief minister of Telangana, is a man with an indomitable spirit.

When he quit the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to float Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and revive the movement for Telangana state in 2001, few had believed that he would achieve his goal, given the chequered history of the movement.

The frail-looking Rao was till then not a very popular leader of Telangana but he proved a huge crowd-puller and single-handedly made 'Jai Telangana' a house-hold slogan. Even his bitter critics admit that the credit of taking Telangana movement to every nook and corner of the region goes to KCR, as the 60-year-old is popularly known.

It is no wonder that KCR, who was all alone when he started the journey, recited this Urdu couplet at his meetings.

Me akela hi chala tha janib manzil magar/Log sath ate gae aur karwan banta gaya

With the formation of Telangana as the 29th state of India, KCR has achieved his goal and by taking oath as the first chief minister of the new state, he has embarked on a journey to rebuild the state.

If Telangana will go down in the history as one of the world's mass movements, KCR will be remembered for reviving the movement for a separate state 14 years ago.

He had almost achieved the goal in 2009 by going on an indefinite fast, forcing the then UPA central government to announce that the process for a separate Telangana state will be initiated. However, the backlash in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions forced the central government to put the issue in cold storage.

Hailing from Medak district, KCR gave the slogan of self-respect and self-rule. With his trade-mark Telangana lingo, he proved a crowd puller. Known for his acerbic criticism of rivals with a mixture of Telugu and Urdu words, he galvanised people's support by highlighting the injustices meted out to the region.

He built the TRS into a key political force in the region. Realising this, the Congress entered into an alliance with the TRS in 2004 by promising to look into Telangana demand. Making an impressive debut, the TRS bagged 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats but could not emerge as a kingmaker in the state.

His credibility took a beating with his decision to join the Congress-led coalitions both at the centre and in the state but he argued it was part of his strategy to achieve the final goal.

He later pulled out of coalition governments and threatened to expose the Congress for betraying people of Telangana. However, his gamble of going for by-elections in 2008 boomeranged on him as the TRS could retain only seven assembly and two Lok Sabha seats.

In 2009, the TRS contested 50 of the 119 assembly seats in the Telangana region but won only 10. The Congress retained power and then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy interpreted the TRS' rout as the vote against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

However, Rajasekhara Reddy's death of the chief minister in a helicopter crash in September 2009, dramatically changed the political scene.

A month later, when the Supreme Court declared Hyderabad a free zone in matters of recruitment to police department, KCR went on hunger strike. His deteriorating condition and massive protests across the region again forced the central government to concede the demand.

When the Congress-led UPA last year decided to carve out Telangana state, KCR refused to believe it till the bill is passed. When the bill was passed by parliament in February this year, KCR, while thanking the Congress, refused to either merge his party or even have an alliance with it. His decision paid rich dividends as the TRS bagged 63 seats in 119-member assembly and it also won 11 out of 17 Lok Sabha seats.

KCR, a four-time member of the Andhra Pradesh assembly, also served as minister in the TDP government. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Karimnagar in 2004 and from Mahabubnagar in 2009. He has two children - son K. Taraka Rama Rao and daughter K. Kavitha.

Taraka Rama Rao has become a cabinet a minister while Kavitha has been elected to Lok Sabha. - IANS