AA Edit | Stalin, KCR and PM: A study in contrasts

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Ever since the BJP began to exploit the weakening of the Congress Party in Telangana to build and project itself as a rival to the TRS

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin (PTI)

On a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi came visiting to their capitals in an official capacity, with full protocol in tow, two Opposition chief ministers — M.K. Stalin of Tamil Nadu and K. Chandrasekhar Rao of Telangana — leaders of the DMK and BRS — both of which are initiating separate initiatives to bring the Opposition together for a larger national alliance in 2024 — presented very contrasting pictures.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister, who is currently having a series of disagreements and tiffs, even a sustained face-off with the governor, R. N. Ravi, ignored all political disagreements and issues of personal discord to be present to receive the Prime Minister at the official programme. Mr Modi too, was seen interacting with Mr Stalin with great cordiality and warmth throughout the programme.

The meeting of an Opposition CM with the PM, at a time when they are gearing up for an imminent electoral confrontation, with such political correctness and in accordance with both protocol and precedents, presented the perfect picture of both democracy and federalism at work.

Throughout Indian history, the PM at the Centre and CMs in various states have belonged to different parties and yet found enough common ground to engage with civility and respect, and find ways to take forward their mutual commitment to development and collaboration.

Sadly, and shockingly, the picture in Telangana was different. As it was the case during the previous visit of the Prime Minister to the state as well. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has been skipping all invitations to attend events held in Hyderabad along with the Prime Minister ever since the two parties became rivals in the state.

In his first term between 2014 and 2018, Mr Rao maintained good relations with the ruling BJP at the Centre, even as the saffron party was largely politically irrelevant in Telangana. The TRS won the elections in 2018, in polls held ahead of schedule, in which the BJP got only one out 119 seats. The BJP at the Centre, too, supported the state government and had fulsome praise for the TRS government. The TRS supported the Modi government on several issues — elections for president and vice-president, demonetisation and the GST bill, among others.

Ever since the BJP began to exploit the weakening of the Congress Party in Telangana to build and project itself as a rival to the TRS, which then re-christened itself as Bharat Rashtra Samithi, and decided to call itself a national party for the purpose of building an alliance against the Modi government, even the semblance of a good relationship is being neglected. There has been no relenting on the standoff for over a year, with the BJP increasingly tightening the screws on the KCR government and its leaders on several issues, including corruption. Probes by Central agencies have also been initiated.

Mr Rao has been boycotting the Prime Minister for over a year — a political trend possibly unprecedented in Indian history and one which can never be condoned or appreciated. After all, political rivalry is a given, but working together with others is both a necessity and an expectation.