“On 23rd and 24th of May, after the results come out, do not say a word. Kindly wait till I come back to you.”
This was the request made by K Chandrasekhar Rao to MK Stalin during the five-minute long one-on-one the Telangana chief minister and the DMK president had with each other. During the rest of the 65 minutes of KCR’s meeting at Stalin’s residence in Chennai, the two leaders were joined by senior DMK leaders, TR Baalu and Durai Murugan and TRS MPs, B Vinod Kumar and J Santhosh.
What exactly transpired during the much-hyped meeting that was seen an attempt by KCR to wean Stalin away from the Congress?
Filter Kaapi has learnt that both KCR and Stalin agreed that no party will get a clear majority in the next Lok Sabha and that in terms of numbers, there won’t be much to separate between the NDA and the UPA. Stalin urged KCR to support Congress, arguing that another term for the BJP is not in anyone’s interest.
But while KCR reportedly did not object to the proposal, he was on a larger point through out the meeting.
“Regional parties should be powerful. We should work as a group. The national parties cannot throw ministries like crumbs at us. That is how Delhi functions, we need to change that,” KCR said.
Given that the DMK has shared power at the Centre, including managing significant portfolios like Telecom, Stalin did not have an issue with KCR’s point about the need for regional parties to assert themselves. But KCR had not finished yet.
“We should not look at just some ministries, regional parties should look to play a leadership role at the top,” said KCR. According to those in the know, KCR repeated the phrase “leadership role” more than once. This is being seen as an euphemism for the TRS’s desire for one of the top jobs in New Delhi for KCR (the grapevine in political circles talk of the post of deputy prime minister but the TRS has denied it).
This narrative is in sync with the buzz in Hyderabad that KCR is looking at a prominent role for himself in New Delhi. One of KCR’s close allies recalled the UPA meeting in 2004 where the Congress leadership in a brusque manner stated that the ministries of Home, Defence, Finance and External Affairs are not on offer to any ally.
“If a UPA 3 has to be formed, the Congress cannot display a 2004-like attitude,” the leader said.
What KCR is impressing upon leaders like Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan is that the non-Congress parties “should not jump and offer support immediately and instead wait for them to come begging”. He is also reported to have insisted that all regional parties, irrespective of whether they are in an alliance with the Congress now or not, should be part of a regional front that will then negotiate with the Congress as a bloc.
What KCR is also banking on is that between the TRS, YSRCP, MIM, DMK and JD(S), there will be close to 70 MPs from south India. The Telangana CM wants to leverage the power of this bloc to negotiate a good deal. The impression gaining ground is that KCR’s political flights are as much to create a regional bloc as much to position himself as the leader of the south India group.
KCR left Stalin’s residence without any commitment from the DMK president and the terse one-line press release that was subsequently put out would not have made the TRS too comfortable. It said : “DMK president MK Stalin had a courtesy meeting with Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao at his residence”.
But one thing is clear. KCR has begun moving his pieces on the political chessboard, convinced that Dilli ab door nahin.