Contemporaries often call Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, better known as KCR, the "cunning fox of Telangana" for the manner in which he induced the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Telegu Desam Party (TDP) toconcede the Telangana state.
Although the movement for Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation started decades ago, KCR is hailed as the movement's architect for the build-up that finally paved the way forthe creation of the state. He staged protests and rallies and sat onan indefinite fast, which finally brought the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre to the negotiating table as well as pushedthe TDP to acknowledge defeat in the face of a mass up surge for Telagnana and KCR.
Born in Chintamadaka village, Medakdistrict, KCR graduated with a law degree from Osmania University. Hewent on to achieve a Masters in Telugu Literature even as he starteda political career with the Youth Congress of Sanjay Gandhi. Hesupported former prime minister Indira Gandhi's emergency in 1977,and worked hard for her victory from Medak when she contested in1980.
Enthused by NTR, he joined the TDP in1983 but lost in his Assembly debut against Congress giant Madan Mohan. Later, he won four consecutive elections from 1985 to 1999from the same Siddipet seat. He was a minister in NTR's cabinet butwas made deputy speaker when Chandrababu Naidu came to power. Raoresigned from the TDP and launched the Telugu Rashtra Samiti, withhis separatist agenda, in April 2001.
To his credit, KCR never flinched fromdemand for a separate Telangana. Even as led the TRS into severalalliances with nearly all political parties, he never compromised onthe issue of Telangana. In the 2004 general and assembly elections,he allied with the Congress to push the Telangana agenda and won fiveParliamentary and 26 assembly seats. His party joined the YSR government at the state and got two cabinet berths in UPA1. But afterwaiting a year or so, KCR was convinced that YSR was not in favour ofpromoting Telangana. So, KCR walked out of both the governments. "Idon't want the MP seat with the Congress support," he said whileresigning.
In 2009, he led the TRS into a grand combine of TDP, CPI and CPM when the NDA was an odd favourite. Though Rao was in the TDP combine, he jumped ships and extended support tothe NDA and the BJP within a few days of the poll outcome. UPA'sreturn came as a rude shock to KCR. But YSR's untimely death in achopper crash left the road clear for KCR to raise the Telangana banner.
He began a hunger strike on November29, 2009, demanding a separate Telangana state. Eleven days later, onDecember 9, 2009, then Union home minister P Chidambaram announced that the "process of formation of the state of Telangana would beinitiated". The announcement, however, was withdrawn 14 days lateron the ruse of need for a consensus. "I knew I could have died inmy fast, but it was in my fate to live along and fight for Telagnanaall through," said KCR, in a recent, nostalgic TV interview.
By now though, KCR had set a trend foragitations to maintain the pressure for the separate state. The slow process for the creation of a separate state unraveled over the nextfive years, and the final push came just in time for KCR. The Parliament passed the Andhra Pradesh Re orgnisation Bill on February19 2014, two days after KCR turned 60.
Talks of TRS' merger with the Congresssoon gained ground. But KCR was unmoved. "How can they expect me topass Telangana to them on a platter and not fulfill my life's ambition of rebuilding Telagnana?" he told reporters, after announcing the rejection of a merger and a pre-poll alliance with the Congress. "Congress has ruled us for 41 year. That is enough."
There is little doubt that KCR hasemerged a kingmaker in Andhra. He remains unyielding towards anypre-poll alliances by terming them "suicidal for him personally andalso his cherished dream of rebuilding Telangana".
Rao says he has no regrets for rejecting the Congress offers. "TRS, on its own, will get more than70 seats in the assembly and not less than 14 Parliament seats," hesaid. "All the Andhra parties (TDP, YSRC, CPM, etc) will betrounced."
KCR has announced his candidature tothe state Assembly from the Gajwel constituency in Medak district, 64km northeast of Hyderabad. He is keeping his option to contest in the general election open, and will prefer a seat from Mahbub nagar, whichhe represented in the 15th Lok Sabha.
KCR is married to Shobha and has twochildren; his son K.T. Rama Rao is a legislator and daughter K.Kavitha heads TRS' cultural wing.