KTR issues 'gag order' on party; TRS leadership adopts sangfroid
DECCAN CHRONICLE | L Venkat Ram Reddy
HYDERABAD: A day after the alleged ‘Operation Akarsh’ by the BJP to poach four TRS MLAs got "exposed", creating a furore in Telangana politics, the TRS leadership assumed a sangfroid stance, maintaining complete silence on the issue on Thursday.
TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao reportedly issued a ‘gag order,’ instructing party leaders not to make any comments before the media or social media on the issue, since the case was under "preliminary stage of investigation."
There was initial speculation that TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao would be holding a press conference on the issue, but it did not fructify. Even Rama Rao chose to maintain near radio silence on the issue throughout the day, which he finally broke with a tweet at 6.28 pm, in Telugu, urging party leaders "not to speak to the media."
Rama Rao, in his tweet, said, "…those thieves who were caught redhanded will continue to bark as they want. There is no need for (our) partymen to take this seriously (sic)."
Finance minister and trouble shooter T. Harish Rao too maintained silence. He neither tweeted on the row nor did he issue any formal statement. Both senior leaders, Rama Rao and Harish Rao, also significantly and tellingly stayed away from campaigning for the Munugode bypoll.
With the troika of the TRS leadership maintaining silence, suspense prevailed across the party ranks over what the next move of the party would be.
There were heated debates in party circles on ‘Operation Akarsh’. Most ministers, MLAs and senior leaders, in their internal discussions, said the CM had pulled off another masterstroke, given the ‘master political strategist’ he was. They felt the party had gained after "CM KCR exposed the BJP’s attempts to purchase MLAs."
TRS leaders said the ‘expose’ had "dealt a big blow" to the BJP ahead of the Munugode bypoll. They also drew parallels to the time when Chandrashekar Rao "finished off" the TD in Telangana by exposing the ‘cash for vote’ scam in 2015.
Chandrashekar Rao’s latest ‘masterstroke’ would check the BJP not only in Telangana but would also have an impact at the national level, they argued. What the Congress, NCP or the Shiv Sena could not do to save their governments from the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, etc., Chandrashekar Rao had achieved in Telangana, they said with admiration.
Party sources revealed and confirmed that the CM, along with Rama Rao, Harish Rao, and the four MLAs who ‘exposed’ BJP’s operation, remained closeted at the Pragathi Bhavan throughout the day, holding meetings to finalise the party’s course of action.
Interestingly, the four party MLAs Guvvala Balraj, Pilot Rohit Reddy, B. Harshvardhan Reddy and Rega Kantha Rao — reached Pragathi Bhavan directly from the farmhouse in Moinabad, where police had conducted raids and caught the alleged BJP agents, who lured them with money. The party leadership reportedly inquired about how many more TRS MLAs were approached by these BJP agents.
"The silence today is the lull before the storm. Something much bigger will be out soon… and it will knock the socks of the BJP," a party insider said.