Why is KCR meeting Pinarayi Vijayan?

The Left parties, most analysts believe, won’t win more than ten seats in the next Lok Sabha. Reduced to a fringe numerically, the CPM and the CPI are a hugely diminished force politically. This is because their Bengal citadel has been taken over by the Trinamool Congress and even the opposition space there has been ceded to the BJP. In Kerala, the UDF is expected to do much better than the LDF even though the latter is in power in the state.

Then why is K Chandrasekhar Rao flying from Hyderabad to Thiruvananthapuram to meet Pinarayi Vijayan? 

The Telangana chief minister sees himself as the real architect of the Third Front, one that is not tarred by a BJP or Congress coating. He is also convinced that the Indian Political League that will start on 23 May will be a T-20 affair, a touch-and-go tournament where every seat will matter. His Kerala trip is to make the most of the first over of the Powerplay, to get at least ten runs in the kitty.

“Ten is also crucial,” said one of KCR’s close political aides, justifying the Left outreach. 

KCR with Pinarayi Vijayan during the latter’s Hyderabad visit in March 2017

Those privy to the furious Math being worked out on KCR’s table tell Filter Kaapi that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti expects the regional parties that fought elections on their own, to get anywhere between 130 and 150 seats. These satraps include KCR, Jaganmohan Reddy, Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. The Left that indulged in dosti with the Congress in Bengal and Tamil Nadu and kushti in Kerala, is being wooed by KCR to be part of this political arrangement.

How can the Left and Trinamool exist in the same basket, I ask.

“You will see,” says the aide, cryptically. Another non-political advisor to KCR says, “His greatness is that he will make both Mamata and the Left work together with him.”

KCR with Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata in 2018

Team KCR expects that both the NDA and the UPA will fall short of numbers and would not be able to form the government without the support of regional parties. The plan is to pre-empt any move by either Amit Shah or Rahul Gandhi to woo any of the regional chieftains and instead replicate 1996, asking one of the two to extend outside support to a Third Front government. 

The architects of this plan also believe it will be easy to attract parties like the DMK and the Shiv Sena to leave their existing fronts and be part of what will be marketed as a truly federal front. Why tolerate a Big Brother attitude of either the BJP or the Congress when you can exist in a coalition of equals, will be sold as the USP of this Front. An arrangement where the states together will govern the country, reflecting the aspirations of the people from all regions. Arithmetically, it will mean reducing the UPA or NDA’s numbers and swelling the Federal Front’s ranks. 

But there is suspicion over KCR’s real motive. His antipathy to the Congress is well-known, the efforts by his TRS to annihilate the party in Telangana cited as a case in point. Which is why his Left turn is also being interpreted as a move to ensure the Reds do not join hands with the Congress in Delhi and help it reach the 272 mark. 

“And you know who that will ultimately help,” says a Delhi-based analyst. 

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