Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao aims to be chief minister again. (File)
The campaign trail in Telangana, which will vote to elect a new government in the state next week, has intensified in the last few days. While there has been a lot of talk about the recent camaraderie between Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a new friendship between caretaker chief minister KCR and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has emerged strong, and one which cannot be ignored by the rest.
Though KCR's Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) haven't entered into a formal alliance, both parties and its leaders have spoken in support of each other.
K Chandrashekar Rao, who is popularly called KCR in his home state, first described AIMIM as a "friendly party" on September 6 – the day the 119-member Telangana Assembly was dissolved.
Mr Rao and Mr Owaisi haven't strongly opposed each other in the past either – the only major issue being the division of the south Indian state into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. While KCR was in favour of the division, Mr Owaisi wanted an undivided Andhra. Both leaders have had a mutual respect for each other since.
Mr Owaisi's party, which considers Hyderabad's old city area as its stronghold – winning seven seats in the 2014 assembly elections – has fielded eight candidates for the upcoming assembly polls scheduled for December 7. Mr Owaisi has quite openly supported TRS, leaving it no secret that his party will back KCR in all other constituencies.
Mr Owaisi even addressed a campaign meeting in Nirmal town where he supported the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
"I feel that the TRS has a very good chance of coming back (to power), and I see KCR becoming chief minister again," Mr Owaisi said in a recent interview to news agency PTI.
"In the last four years, there have been no incidents of communal riots in Telangana. There is no atmosphere of fear in the state. That in itself would help KCR," he added.
KCR too, in turn, praised Mr Owaisi for his support.
At one of his election rallies, the caretaker chief minister alleged that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have conspired to topple his government, and it is Asaduddin Owaisi who has promised to come to his support.
As the bond between KCR and Asaduddin Owaisi stregthens, their parties have come under severe attacks from both the Congress and the BJP.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, at public meetings, accused the TRS and the AIMIM with having an objective to prevent his party from coming to power in 2019. Mr Gandhi claimed that KCR and Mr Owaisi want to see the Modi government re-elected next year.
According to news agency PTI, BJP chief Amit Shah too, appealed to voters to back the BJP candidates in the state, saying only his party can "rid" Telangana of the AIMIM.
Assembly elections in Telangana will be held on December 7 and the counting of votes will take place on December 11.
(With inputs from PTI)