The Telangana CM is mulling over fielding TRS Rajya Sabha member K Keshava Rao as the party's nominee for the post of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is understood to be toying with the idea of fielding TRS Rajya Sabha member K Keshava Rao as the party's nominee for the post of the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of Parliament, the elections for which are scheduled to be held during the upcoming monsoon session.
The present Deputy Chairman, P J Kurien, of the Congress, will be retiring on July 1. Vice-President of India and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu, has already begun the process for elections for a new Deputy Chairman by holding talks with the Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and the Parliament Secretary.
The Deputy Chairman's post has normally been with the ruling party, but now with the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led UPA evenly poised in the Rajya Sabha, it looks like a close contest. The BJP, which is the single largest party in the House with 69 members, has the support of 106 members, including that of 14 AIADMK members. The combined opposition strength is 117, including 51 members of the Congress and 6 members of the TDP. There are eight nominated members. The winning candidate will require 123 votes in the 245-member House.
Against this scenario since the three regional parties BJD (with 9 members), TRS (6) and YSRCP (2) hold the key to the election, the BJP and the Opposition have stepped up their efforts to woo these three parties. The BJD as per its neutral stand might abstain from voting, while the YSRCP has not yet committed support to any side. Despite its anti-BJP and anti-Congress stance, the TRS is yet to spell out its role in the crucial elections, though there are speculations that it might pitch is own candidate in the last minute.
In the event of the BJP not managing to cobble the required number of 122 votes for winning the post, there is a possibility that it might prop up a BJD nominee. But since the Opposition too wants to co-opt the BJD, the BJP seems to be toying even with the idea of extending support to a TRS nominee.
In fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi is understood to have discreetly sounded out this move to KCR during the latter's visit to the national capital on the eve of the NITI Ayog meeting. However, KCR seemed to be a little apprehensive in yielding to the BJP's overtures lest his TRS might lose the support of the minorities. At the same time he may not be averse to the TRS wresting the coveted post if the party nominee is ensured at least a smooth sailing if not a unanimous election.
Against this background, KCR is understood to be toying with the idea of fielding for the post K Keshava Rao, popularly known as KK, who is also the TRS Secretary-General.
Interestingly, AP CM Chandrababu Naidu, a friend-turned-foe of Modi and the BJP, also seems to be determined to take his fight against the ruling party further by announcing his own nominee C M Ramesh, his close confidante and a Rajya Sabha member, for the post. Naidu, after severing ties with Modi and the BJP, has been trying to the don the role of a leader of the non-BJP and non-Congress opposition parties in a bid to forge a federal front in the runup to the 2019 elections, and has already began parleys with the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala for the RS Deputy Chairman elections. He is understood to have even broached the issue of fielding a TDP nominee. The issue is likely to be discussed threadbare in the coming days by the opposition parties.
However as of now there seem to be no consensus among the opposition parties as even Mamata Banerjee is keen on fielding her own nominee. With even TRS planning to jump into the fray now, the election has attained a lot of political significance. All attention will now be focused on whether the TRS and the TDP will lock horns for the post.