The buzz in Telangana is that Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who has ambitions of a role in national politics, could resign in favour of his son KT Rama Rao, a cabinet minister and Acting President of the ruling TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samiti), and focus on preparing for the step up.
The decision, if and when it is made, is widely expected to be supported by senior party leaders, of whom at least four have hailed Mr Rama Rao as a worthy successor.
“He (Mr Rama Rao) has proved his capability… the whole of India, and definitely people in Telangana, will say that. 100 per cent… it is not just me who is saying this, but the people are too, you know,” Talasani Srinivas Yadav, the Animal Husbandry Minister, told NDTV.
However, Mr Yadav also said the final decision would remain with K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR.
Speculation that KT Rama Rao could become the next Chief Minister first surfaced in 2018, after KCR sought to build on his impressive victory in Assembly elections with a cross-country push to form (and lead) a third front in national politics – an alliance without the BJP or Congress.
It was then that KT Rama Rao was made acting chief of the TRS.
While both KCR and his son poured cold water on speculation at that time, now Deputy Speaker Padma Rao Goud is confident this will happen soon and said as much at a Railways event in Hyderabad on Thursday.
“Our party’s working President, who is going to be Chief Minister soon… on behalf of the Assembly, the Railways Union and everyone else here, I am conveying advance congratulations…” he said
Mr Rama Rao, who was present at that meeting, neither denied nor responded to the comments.
While there appears little doubt he will, at some point, succeed his father at the head of the TRS and, potentially, be named Chief Minister, it is unclear why these rumours have cropped up now – with two years before the next Assembly election and three years to the next Lok Sabha polls.
The TRS has also only just retained control of the Hyderabad civic body after a closely-fought (significantly closer than expected) fight with the BJP.
The party won 55 of 150 wards but the victory was dimmed by the BJP’s massive surge and an exceptionally shrill and divisive contest.