New Delhi: In May 2009, a famous editor had said, "Mr KCR (K Chandrashekhara Rao), please forget your Telangana. You will never get it".
At the time, the UPA had stunned the nation by retaining power at the Centre. The charismatic chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr YS Rajashekhara Reddy had also registered a stunning victory by winning both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections for the Congress for the second time in a row. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of KCR had suffered a humiliating defeat in both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls on the same day.
Not only the editor, perhaps even KCR thought that it was the end of his fight for a separate Telangana. A Congress wave could be seen everywhere. According to some sources, KCR even went into depression after that debacle.
KCR has been at the forefront of the Telangana movement for over a decade. He started his career with the youth Congress in the 1970s.
Life is always uncertain. Within four months, YSR Reddy died in a helicopter crash plunging the state into chaos and sorrow. A weak leader K Rosaiah was appointed as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Wounded and defeated KCR tried to stage a comeback. His chance came in late November 2009. KCR, who was almost forgotten by the so-called national media, went on a fast-unto-death demanding a separate state of Telangana once again.
Both the media and the Congress high command in New Delhi ignored his fast for a week. Rosaiah also failed to gauge the public mood in Telangana and ignored KCR's fast.
But the people of Telangana started gathering in Hyderabad in support of KCR. A resounding roar greeted him wherever he went. When he refused to end his fast and the situation almost went out of control, the Centre swung into action. It forced KCR to end his fast by forcibly admitting him into Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad. The then Union home minister P Chidambaram made a midnight announcement on a cold December night that the Centre was committed to forming a separate state of Telangana.
It made KCR a hero across Telangana and brought him back into the centrestage of both Andhra Pradesh and national politics. The Centre appointed a committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna to study the demand for a separate state in early 2010.
The committee submitted its report on the last day of December 2010. The report was almost against Telangana. It offered various solutions instead of a separate state. The TRS and the people of Telangana rejected it.
At the same time, the sulking son of the late CM YSR Reddy, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy revolted against the Congress and eventually quit the party. His popularity started soaring across Seemandhra region.
The CBI investigation into his alleged scams during his father's tenure finally sent him to jail for 16 months. The ineffective CM N Kiran Kumar Reddy failed to hold the party and the government together. The state which was once a bastion of the Congress started slipping away from its hands.
The party was quick to act. After gauging the public mood, it started trumpeting its commitment to Telangana.
The Congress is now hoping that KCR will merge his party with the Congress out of gratitude. According to insiders, KCR is under immense pressure to merge with the Congress. The Congress has even offered him the post of Chief Minister of Telangana if the party comes to power in the coming Assembly elections.
According to TRS sources, the Congress has offered six Lok Sabha seats to candidates of KCR's choice. It is also willing to give the tickets to at least 50 candidates of KCR's choice in the Assembly elections.
If KCR returns to the Congress, it will be a homecoming of sorts for him. KCR started his career with the youth Congress controlled by Sanjay Gandhi in the 1970s. As he himself claims, he and a few others stood by Indira Gandhi even after her defeat in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls.
Later, he joined the TDP and won four consecutive Assembly elections from Siddipet between 1985 and 1999. He also served as the deputy speaker of the Andhra Assembly. In 2004, he fought the Lok Sabha polls and went on become a Union Cabinet minister of Labour and Employment in the UPA-1 government at the Centre. He resigned in 2006 and again contested in the Lok Sabha by-polls and won.
Telangana has 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats. The BJP is hoping to make some inroads here. The TDP may retain its influence in some pockets. The Left and the YSR Congress have a marginal presence here.
The passage of Telangana Bill has cleared the way for a direct fight between the YSR Congress of Jagan Mohan Reddy and and the TDP led by N Chandrababu Naidu in Seemandhra with 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 Assembly seats.