When Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao stopped over for lunch in Nagari after his darshan at the temple in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, he spoke about contributing to making arid Rayalaseema region into `RatanalaSeema’ (land of jewels). This was yet another instance of KCR trying to convey that he is friends with YS Jaganmohan Reddy and will help him in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier in the Andhra Pradesh assembly, Jagan had praised KCR, underlining that cooperation with Telangana will help the state in the long run.
But is it only a case of two governments cooperating with each other or are there political benefits to be gained from this association?
While Chandrababu Naidu is naturally peeved at this friendship, even the BJP and the Congress are looking at this bonhomie with concern. Particularly the BJP whose Telangana unit was looking to consolidate the gains made in the Lok Sabha elections. Both opposition parties see a clear political motive behind the optics of the KCR-Jagan close relationship.
One, Jaganmohan Reddy enjoys a great deal of support among the Reddy community, irrespective of the region they belong to. The community has hitherto backed the Congress in Telangana but with the party licking its wounds after the drubbing in May, the BJP has begun wooing it. The party sent the right signals by making Kishan Reddy a minister in the Union government.
KCR’s strategy is to ensure that the in-the-face friendship with Jagan ensures the Reddy votebank does not move lock, stock and barrel to the BJP in Telangana. He is also working to build on this by inducting Reddy community MLAs into the cabinet. Sukhender Reddy and Sabitha Indra Reddy are two senior leaders who may find space when he expands his council of ministers. The Reddy community has always been seen as politically and financially influential in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The community backs the YSRCP almost completely in Andhra Pradesh.
KCR also seems to have one eye on the votes of those hailing from Andhra Pradesh and settled in Hyderabad. With municipal elections round the corner, it is important for the TRS to do as well as it did in 2016. The opposition parties feel KCR is setting this positive narrative to gain the votes as well.