Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao took the first step towards building a non-Congress Opposition Front today with the maiden meet of his party since it went national. Bharat Rashtra Samiti's meet in Hyderabad's Khammam town was attended by Aam Admi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Kerala Chief Minister, CPM's Pinarayi Vijayan, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and CPI's D Raja.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who has been supporting KCR's foray into national politics, could not attend the meet due to his ongoing Pancharatna Rath Yatra (statewide tour) in Karnataka.
Addressing the meet, Mr Rao said the BRS was formed to question the Centre's failures to address problems like drinking water and other development needs and realise the people's aspirations.
Accusing the NDA government of promoting the interests of corporates and burdening the common man, he said, "I am directly telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi-ji. Your policy is privatisation. Our policy is nationalisation".
His other promises included free electricity to farmers across the country, bringing back insurance behemoth LIC into the public sector and scrapping the Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces "if BRS assumes power at the Centre after the 2024 elections".
Sharing stage with the four Chief Ministers, Akhilesh Yadav, a former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, said: "Yesterday the BJP's meeting (National Executive) concluded. They themselves said that 400 days are left for left. This government is counting its days. It will not stay after 400 days."
The BRS meet comes days ahead of the grand finale of the Congress's Bharat Jodo Yatra, for which it has invited 21 opposition parties including the Samajwadi Party and the CPM. Mr Kejriwal's AAP, though, is missing from the guest list.
All the parties attending Mr Rao's rally today had skipped the Congress yatra. Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal have made their antipathy to the Congress clear. The CPM, though, is in talks with the Congress in Tripura on a seat sharing arrangement for the elections due this year.
Mr Rao or KCR as he is popularly known, had made public his dream of a non-Congress, non-BJP front ahead of the 2019 general election. But it had failed to take off, with most regional leaders stopping at extending moral support. There have been questions on whether his dream front will materialise this time.
Besides Mr Rao, there have been many contenders for the pole position in the opposition. Arvind Kejriwal has made his national ambitions clear. So has Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whom Mr Rao met in September last year, was categorical in stating that there will be no Third Front. "There is no question of a Third Front. There should be one front that includes the Congress. Then we can trounce the BJP in 2024," Mr Kumar said at a rally organised by the Indian National Lok Dal, which has a ling history of rivalry with the Congress.
No third front has been successful so far without the support of the BJP or the Congress. The government headed by former Prime Minister VP Singh had the support of the BJP. The governments led by his successors -- Chandrasekhar, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral -- had the support of the Congress.