Vidyasagar Rao unlikely to return to Telangana politics

Contrary to speculation, Vidyasagar Rao who completed five years as Governor of Maharashtra is unlikely to return to active Telangana politics. Even though Rao is seen as one of the senior BJP leaders who enjoys credibility and popularity, a lot has changed in Telangana politics since he moved to Mumbai Raj Bhavan.

For one, the age factor. At 77, Rao is already past the unofficial cut-off age within the BJP to be in active politics. Though he has maintained himself very well and looks much younger than his age, it is unlikely that the BJP leadership will want Vidyasagar Rao to do a BS Yediyurappa, who at 76 is Karnataka chief minister. The fact that the BJP High command has politically retired another veteran Telangana leader Bandaru Dattatreya and rehabilitated him at the Raj Bhavan in Shimla, is a pointer to its thinking on Telangana.

Two, he belongs to the same Velama community as chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. It is not possible for Vidyasagar Rao to emerge as a taller leader than KCR within the community and the BJP too does not see merit in projecting a leader from the same community that wields influence within the TRS. The BJP strategy is to encourage a Reddy + BC leadership in Telangana and at this point in time, Kishan Reddy (minister of state for Home) leads the race. The idea is to poach on the Reddy community that has hitherto been the political backbone of the Congress in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Vidyasagar Rao with KCR at Mumbai Raj Bhavan in June 2019

Three, Vidyasagar Rao himself is not keen to get back to politicking. He would be more comfortable playing the role of a mentor to the BJP if it seeks his advice on political matters.

Four, Vidyasagar Rao was bested by KCR the last time they clashed in a direct electoral contest in the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Karimnagar. In the autumn of his political career, Vidyasagar Rao would not like to be seen as an also-ran. 

Five, Rao runs NGOs in his mother’s name that does work in the field of education in Karimnagar district. The former Governor would be happy to see it do meaningful work and contribute to society in his home district that elected him both as MLA and MP and helped him become Minister of State for Home in AB Vajpayee’s government.  

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