KTR’s role in governance triggers speculation that he may be Telangana’s next CM
The proactive role being played by Telangana Rashtra Samithi working president and state industries and information technology minister KT Rama Rao in the Telangana government has triggered fresh speculation that he may take over the mantle from his father K Chandrasekhar Rao, as the chief minister soon.
For the last few weeks, KTR, as the chief minister’s son is popularly known, has been addressing official meetings and holding virtual conferences. There have been instances of KTR holding official meetings of other departments as well – like the meeting on Kaleshwaram irrigation project he had held on July 3 – which was attended by senior officials of these departments.
What led to the latest speculation about KTR’s role as de facto chief minister was an informal meeting of the council of ministers convened by him in the absence of his father to discuss food processing and logistics at Pragati Bhavan, the camp office of the chief minister last week.
Apart from all his cabinet colleagues, the meeting was attended by top bureaucrats including chief secretary Somesh Kumar, government chief advisor Rajiv Sharma, principal secretaries of various departments and Telangana state planning board vice-chairman B Vinod Kumar.
Though KTR clarified later that he had held the eight-hour long meeting with all his cabinet colleagues to discuss the food processing and logistics policies “as directed by the chief minister,” it led to a debate as to whether KCR was slowly delegating his powers to his son.
Telangana Congress legislature party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka raised objections over KTR heading a cabinet meeting in the absence of the chief minister. “In what capacity and under which rule did KTR chair the cabinet meeting? Was the chief minister not in a position to attend the cabinet meeting?” he asked.
Political analyst and Osmania University professor K Nageshwar said there was no clarity as to whether it was a cabinet meeting with a specific agenda and protocol or just an informal meeting of the council of ministers.
“If it was not a formal cabinet meeting, it cannot be questioned technically. But politically, it shows KTR’s clout as the chief minister’s son. One wonders whether any other minister – be it finance minister T Harish Rao or health minister Eatala Rajender can call for such informal cabinet meetings,” he said.
Unlike his father who is mostly confined to running the government from Pragati Bhavan, KTR has been extensively touring districts to inspect the implementation of government schemes and holding official meetings. He prefers to go to the people and interact with them directly to solve their issues.
When the entire northern Telangana region was reeling under heavy floods, the chief minister was confined to his camp office reviewing the situation, while KTR chose to make a whirlwind tour of the affected areas to personally monitor the relief and rehabilitation measures.
“Wherever KTR goes, the official machinery in the district goes providing him with all protocol measures though he is only one of the cabinet ministers, because he is the chief minister’s son,” an official in the revenue department said on condition of anonymity.
Interestingly, KTR’s visit to the flood-hit areas of Warangal and other parts was covered by the publicity wing of the CMO, rather than his personal public relations team. The official release and the photographs were shared with the media by the CMO, lending credence to the speculations that KTR might be on his way to being the next CM.
TRS legislator from Bodhan in Nizamabad district Mohammad Shakeel expressed hope that KTR would be made the chief minister of the state soon. “Young and dynamic minister KT Rama Rao has all the abilities and eligibility to become the CM of the state,” he observed.
Nageshwar said there was no surprise if it happened sooner or later. “When KTR was made the TRS working president soon after the December 2018 elections, it was evident that he would succeed KCR. It is only a matter of time that KTR is anointed as the chief minister,” he said.