Where is KCR? Opposition seeks clarity about his health as Telangana CM goes MIA for three weeks

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Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), who has been missing in action for the last three weeks ostensibly for health reasons, is now in the centre of a political storm, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) writing to the governor on the “veil of secrecy” about his health conditions. 

KCR’s last public appearance was on 17 September, when he hoisted the national flag and delivered a speech at the Public Gardens in Hyderabad on the occasion of the Telangana Integration Day. Since then, he has been reportedly suffering from viral fever and cough, followed by a secondary bacterial infection in his lungs. 

His son and minister K.T. Rama Rao (KTR), who has also been filling in for his father in some official events, has been the only source of information about his health and whereabouts during this period. Amid the health concerns, KCR’s wife Shobha Rao Tuesday visited the Tirumala shrine in Andhra Pradesh and paid obeisance.

Raising apprehensions about CM’s absence, BJP leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy wrote to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, demanding clarity on KCR’s medical condition and treatment. He cited examples of how other political leaders had kept their health issues secret from the public in the past. 

“There has been a veil of secrecy about the CM’s health condition. It was revealed a few days ago that he had a mild viral infection. Yesterday, suddenly a disclosure has been, purportedly, made by his son and minister KTR that his father has a secondary (bacterial) infection of the lungs,” Reddy, the chairman, Election Commission Affairs Committee, BJP Telangana, said in the letter Saturday. ThePrint has a copy of the letter.

The letter added that, whenever there were instances of illness of a person holding such a high public office, regular health bulletins were put out by the hospital authorities and state health officials. 

“This is not to be seen here,” Reddy said, adding that as the “son of Chenna Reddy, a former CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh and governor of four different states”, he is aware of protocols followed in such situations.

Reddy, a former senior Congressman, also claimed that there was a growing public concern “because of the fate of eminent personalities, like late Kanshi Ram, whose condition was kept shrouded in secrecy from the outside world by his protege Mayawati, creating doubts in the minds of the people about his real condition.”

Citing another instance of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, he said that “how the health condition of J. Jayalalithaa was totally wrapped in secrecy, supposedly at the instance of V.K. Sasikala, also led to several suspicions.”   

“As a son, KTR has the right to brief about his father’s condition … (but) Telangana people have the right to be properly briefed about their Chief Minister, by competent medical authorities,” Reddy said, requesting the governor to direct the chief secretary to do the needful.

“This will put to rest any possible misgivings of neglect and inadequate or inappropriate care,” Reddy said. 

Meanwhile, the chief minister’s office (CMO) released a statement Monday, saying that KCR would hold a meeting at the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) headquarters on 15 October to release the election manifesto and hand over ‘B’ forms to his candidates for the 30 November assembly polls. 

The same day, KCR will begin his election tours in constituencies with a rally at Husnabad, it said, adding that he will also file his nomination papers from Siddipet and Kamareddy segments on 9 November.

Meanwhile, Reddy’s remarks invited a objection from BRS leader Dasoju Sravan, who said that he “should instead be worried about his assembly ticket from the BJP and an election campaign to win”.   

Sravan said that “it is a season of viral fever, and many people, including his close family members, were affected”. 

“Our CM, about 70 years old, is on course of recovery and is anyway operational, meeting people, taking decisions and doing what he should as the CM for the state,” Sravan told ThePrint.

On Monday, addressing a public meeting in Parkal, KTR said that “within a day or two, the tiger (KCR) will come out and all the foxes (opposition leaders) will go into hiding”.

However, former bureaucrat R.V. Chandravadan pointed out that KCR’s disappearing acts were not new to Telangana people. “One cannot be sure if the CM is in the Pragathi Bhavan, or on one of his retreats at his farmhouse,” he said. 

Pragathi Bhavan is the CM’s palatial office-cum-residence in the posh Begumpet area. 

Also Read: Bid to broker peace in splintered Telangana unit? BJP puts dissidents at helm of 14 poll panels

Sick CM and a PM visit

For the last three weeks, the only source of the CM’s whereabouts/condition has been KTR — the BRS working president and Telangana minister for IT, industries, commerce, municipal administration and urban development.

On 26 September, KTR posted on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) that the CM was being treated at home by his medical team.

Then on 6 October, KTR told media persons that the CM “has unfortunately got a secondary, bacterial infection. So, the recovery is taking longer than usual.”

“The CM has some infection in his chest. He should be okay and out in a day or two,” KTR reportedly said last week.

During this three-week period, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state twice and the Election Commission announced the poll schedule.

The free breakfast scheme in government schools, brought in just ahead of polls, was to be inaugurated by KCR Friday in the outskirts of Hyderabad. KCR was expected to counter Modi’s allegations of “his futile attempts to join the NDA.” Instead, the CM’s nephew and finance and health minister Harish Rao was deputed in his place.

On Monday, just before the election schedule was announced, KTR, filling in for his father, opened the Jayashankar Bhupalapally district’s new collectorate complex. The talk in the political circles is that KTR and Rao were given charge of the government and party during the CM’s indisposition.

KCR’s disappearing acts

The CM’s disappearing acts, Chandravadan said, were not new to Telangana’s people.

In July 2020 when Covid was at its peak, KCR was away from public gaze for several days, triggering queries reportedly by BJP lawmakers, like Dharmapuri Arvind, about his health.

Then there is opposition criticism, including that of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief A. Revanth Reddy and former Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, about KCR’s “frequent retreats to his farmhouse” near Gajwel, 60 km north of Hyderabad.

“Synonymous with continued absence, the CM works in anonymous ways. Even when he is fit and fine, KCR is inaccessible to the common public and even the bureaucrats. One cannot be sure if the CM is in the Pragathi Bhavan, or in one of his retreats at his farmhouse,” Chandravadan, who is now associated with the BJP, told ThePrint.

“The CM’s disappearance now for health or other reasons does not come as a surprise. Either he will be continuously in the public, on television holding hours long press conferences to make political accusations, or just vanish for days on end,” said Chandravadan, who is a former commissioner, Telangana information and public relations department.

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

Also Read: Why so angry? BRS critics lash into ‘haughtiness’ of ministers in poll-bound Telangana


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