Telangana Chief Minister KCR was slammed by PM Modi at a campaign speech (File).
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao - who has in the past been a fierce critic of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi - wanted to join the party-led National Democratic Alliance "but I refused him entry", the PM claimed Tuesday while campaigning for the Assembly election due later this year. Shortly afterwards the Telangana leader's son, KT Rama Rao, responded, saying his father would never be "mad enough to want to join the NDA".
In dramatic fashion the Prime Minister declared Mr Rao, or KCR as he is known, and his Bharat Rashtra Samithi made multiple attempts to join the NDA. These were personally rebuffed, the PM told a cheering crowd. "I said, 'we won't cheat people of Telangana. After that his mind was rattled."
The PM - whose BJP won a solitary seat in the 2018 Telangana election and is without a government in South India - said his refusal angered and "changed" KCR, whom he also accused of corruption and nepotism in an all-out attack in Nizamabad, about 180 km from state capital Hyderabad.
"I am going to tell you a secret... 100 per cent truth," the Prime Minister began, "When municipal elections happened (in 2020), nobody got a majority. BJP won 48 seats... KCR needed support."
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"KCR showered me with love... gave me a shawl. This was not in KCR's character. And then he asked me to include him in NDA. 'You help us in Hyderabad municipality (election)', he said," the PM said.
"I refused... told him we won't cheat of people of Telangana," the PM continued.
The 2020 Hyderabad civic poll was a significant step forward for the BJP, which had struggled for traction in the state till then. Of the 150 wards, KCR's party won just 56 - down from 99 in the previous election. The BRS' loss was the BJP's gain, which upped its tally from four to 48. Eventually the BRS formed the city's government after last-minute support from Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which won 44 seats. The Congress flopped, winning just two wards.
"They (the BRS) got angry (after being refused entry to the NDA). But then he (KCR) came back... told me he now wants to give all responsibility to KTR (KT Rama Rao, his son). 'I will send KTR, you please bless him', KCR told me..." the Prime Minister claimed.
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The PM then claimed he had severely scolded the Telangana leader.
"I said, 'KCR, this is democracy. Who are you to give KTR everything? Are you a king?' After that he never came before me. He is unable to face me," the Prime Minister declared, "No corrupt person can sit next to me."
Relations between the PM and KCR exploded last year with the latter launching a series of personal attacks at the former. The southern party was, before then, seen as a reliable outside partner of the BJP government. But once the Telangana leader began eyeing a national role, the two butted heads.
READ | Blog: 13 Reasons Why KCR Is Attacking PM Modi So Directly
In July he slammed the PM as "the weakest" India has ever had, and referred to the BJP as "traitors, demons and dictators".
Today's attack by the Prime Minister is the sharpest yet on KCR and his party; in April he accused them of obstructing development initiated by the centre and of 'parivarvaad' (family rule) and corruption.
In his speech the PM also lashed out at the Congress, accusing them of an "understanding" with the BRS.
"In Karnataka (where the Congress routed the BJP in May, winning 135 seats to its rival's 66) BRS helped by financing them. They (the two opposition parties) have mutual understanding as exit (in Telangana) is sure."
The PM called it "payback time" for the Congress in Telangana.