The 10-party Third Front seeking to form a non-Congress, non-BJP government at the centre, received a major jolt on Sunday when the leader of one of its constituents — K. Chandrasekhar Rao, 55, of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) — attended the NDA rally.
The TRS contested the recent Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, held in the first two phases on April 16 and 23, as part of an alliance with Telegu Desam Party (TDP), the CPI and the CPM, all members of the Third Front.)
But Sunday saw a very different Rao. “The NDA will come to power,” he said in his speech at the rally. “We support the NDA and will also try to rope in more friends.”
The main plank of the TRS has always been that of creating a separate Telangana state. Rao had forged an alliance with the Congress in the last Lok Sabha poll, but his demand was not met, even though the Congress-TRS alliance swept the polls. The TRS broke with the Congress over the delay in creating Telangana state in 2006.
“Congress deceived us,” said Rao at the rally. He did not say a word about his Third Front colleagues. “I’m sure Advaniji will become prime minister,” he added. “Advaniji is a principled man. I request Advaniji to redress the problems of the people of Telangana after that.”
None of the BJP leaders who spoke at the rally, however, explicitly conceded Rao’s demand for separate statehood for his region. Rao revealed that Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had invited him to join the rally and he had agreed to do so.
In Delhi, Left leaders reacted differently to Rao’s presence at the Ludhiana rally. While the CPI’s national secretary D. Raja called it ‘embarassing’, claiming that Rao would be asked to explain, his party general secretary A.B. Bardhan remained unperturbed.
“You are reading too much,” he told reporters. “This is a practice of the media. He has been invited and he is going.”