A year ahead of polls, the Telangana Chief Minister’s followers attempt to make him appear larger than life to curry favour from the leader
Popularity and personal charisma apart, Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao’s followers are in competition to showcase him as a deity to be revered.
And it was an apt opportunity on Saturday, the 64th birthday of KCR, as he is better known. Celebrations were witnessed across the state, with Hyderabad wearing a festive look. Leaders of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) set up huge hoardings of KCR across the city. “This year we are focusing on Ganabhisekham (abhishekham through music) to our beloved leader on his birthday with special songs composed and choreographed with actors and singers,” said Rasamayi Balakishan, a singer and TRS MLA of Manakonduru.
TRS MP and daughter of KCR, K Kavita, released a song on KCR as “Karana Janmudu” (born with a cause).
Other songs released on YouTube are “Veeradhi Veerudu Athadu” (He is a braveheart) and “Ara Chetini Addam Petti” (serving farmers entirely).
Last year the celebrations and eulogisation of KCR’s achievements were in the form of Palabhisekham – bathing the Chief Minister’s hoardings and posters with milk. This year the sychophancy has peaked even further with Ganabhisekham.
State minister Etela Rajinder and others sponsored a song this year –“Karya Sadhakudu” (achiever) focusing on irrigation projects.
Even Home Minister Nayini Narasimha Reddy cut a huge pink cake, the TRS colour, and released a special CD -‘Nee Janma’ (your birth).
Deification Of KCR A General Practice
The deification of KCR is not reserved for his birthday. Whenever the Chief Minister announces a new program or scheme, it is celebrated and KCR is termed God–incarnate. The Pragathi Bhavan built in the CM’s camp office at a cost of Rs 40 crore is resplendent with fancy pedestals, high seats and audience enclosures befitting films of royal durbars.
KCR is hailed as Gandhi, Ambedkar and also as Lord Rama. In fact when a separate state was declared by the Centre in the run-up to the 2014 polls, a huge hoarding of KCR was put up in Hyderabad city showing him in Lord Rama’s avatar.
When TRS came to power in 2014, a temple – KCR Mandir – was built for KCR at Rajendranagar in Hyderabad, where he was projected as Lord Krishna. He is shown blowing a conch.
During the 2015 celebrations, then Deputy CM, T Rajaiah, stated – “It is Article 3 of the Constitution drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar which has given provision for separate states and KCR is like another Ambedkar for the Dalits of Telangana.”
In 2017 when KCR announced a health card scheme for journalists on par with government employees, the journalists’ tribe too fell in line and performed ‘Palabhisekham’ to KCR’s portraits in the Secretariat complex.
The opposition parties are at loggerheads with bureaucracy crawling before the ruling party. Leader of Opposition in Telangana legislative council Mohammed Ali Shabbir raised the issue of Jagtial district Collector A Sharath. The Collector, during his Republic Day speech of 2017, had said that he “would touch the Chief Minister’s feet for permitting him to conduct the Republic Day parade.”
The Congress leader said the Collector had brought down the values of secularism and prestige of the post, the image of the IAS, and the Constitution of India. He wrote to the President of India for intervention and to initiate appropriate action against all the IAS officers who touched Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s feet. “Such bureaucrats who violate the Constitutional bindings for personal promotion should be sent home,” he said.
KCR’s opponents say that KCR like a Dora (king), as he is from a family of Velama landlords and relished such acts of syphocancy. “Last year everyone performed Palabhisekham, and this year it is Ganabhisekham. What a downswing and fall,” said Prof M Kodandaram, chairman of Telangana Joint Action Committee and a bitter critic of KCR.
Congress spokesperson Dasoju Sravan described the deification of KCR as a manifestation of “selfishness, sycophancy and slavery.”
The TRS camp though pooh-poohed their critics. “But for KCR, Telangana could not have been achieved. The failure of several top Congress leaders over the years is a striking example. So what if we deify him – he is our real God incarnate,” said Telangana Transport Minister Jagadish Reddy.
“Larger Than Life” Leaders Since NTR
Ever since the Telugu Desam Party was founded in united Andhra Pradesh by NT Rama Rao, politics in the state has been quite colourful. During the 1982 elections, NTR could be seen on posters as Lord Rama and Krishna – stills from mythological films in which he had performed these lead roles.
NTR’s fans culled chicken, offered milk abhisekham and garlands whenever he visited rural areas, just as they did on the first day of his films. “Adulation to NTR was natural and came from heart,” said Sripati Rao ,then president of NTR Fans Association who later became an MLA.
But deification did not come to the succour of NTR either. In the 1989 polls the TDP lost, despite an NTR special film “Brahmarshi Vishwamitra” which did not impress the voters. He had to wait until 1994-95 where it was not his film charisma but the campaign for Prohibition which won him a landslide of 230 seats out of 294 at the time.