Hyderabad: Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probes her in connection with the Delhi liquor ‘scam’ and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has named her in its chargesheet in the case, Kalvakuntla Kavitha’s stature is likely to grow within the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), ThePrint has learnt.
The Member of Legislative Council (MLC) from Nizamabad and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s (KCR’s) daughter is set to get a national post in the party which aims to spread outside Telangana and emerge as an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kavitha will look after strategy, and also coordinate for states such as Maharashtra and Odisha, party sources said.
Adding that she may contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Telangana and shift her focus to Delhi, party sources said she could be given the post of national general secretary with the responsibility of coordinating with leaders in Delhi and some other states.
“The focus of BRS is only the border districts of states close to Telangana. As a first step, we do not want to go further because it is pointless. And the party’s focus is more on the 2024 Parliament elections than assembly elections. Even if we win one seat from any of these states, that’s a big win. If we’re able to show our presence in multiple states by way of vote share, that would be good. Kavitha will be seen a lot more in Maharashtra and will also be in touch with some senior Congress leaders in Odisha who are contemplating moving to the BRS. She is handling it all,” a senior party leader close to Kavitha told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.
“Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the party aims to field BRS candidates in local elections in states to familiarise people with its symbol – the car,” the leader said.
On her part, Kavitha is ready to take on a larger role. “I am ready to take up any role that my leader gives me. As a member of the party, I believe in his vision and ideology and I am working for the party. So, whatever his instructions are, they will be followed,” she said to ThePrint when asked about her potential national role in the BRS.
On KCR’s team
Kavitha’s increased involvement in party activity– she has been accompanying KCR on tours to meet leaders of other states – comes when she is being questioned in the liquor ‘scam’ and has been named in the ED chargesheet on the same case. Over the last year, she has accompanied KCR in at least five of his meetings with leaders outside Telangana. Her most recent presence was at Maharashtra’s Nanded where KCR held his first public meeting outside home ground ever since the party was renamed the BRS. KCR’s son and state IT minister K.T. Rama Rao has mostly stayed away from these meetings, including the one at Nanded.
When KCR met Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Singh Tikait in Delhi in March last year, Kavitha was present. She was there at the meeting with Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav and also accompanied KCR to Mumbai where he met former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar.
She was with KCR in his meetings with Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and also when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann visited Telangana in January this year to attend BRS’ public meeting in Khammam where the leaders gave a call for a ‘new resistance’ against BJP.
Separately, she met Tamil Nadu’s actor-turned-politician Sharath Kumar at her residence in Hyderabad, where the latter reportedly expressed an interest in supporting the BRS.
Rise to prominence
Kavitha’s non-profit, socio-cultural outfit, Jagruthi, which works towards promoting Telangana’s traditional festivals especially floral festival ‘Bathukamma’, was started in 2006 and paved the way for her soft launch in politics. The organisation, which lay dormant after Kavitha failed to retain her Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 elections, got active in the following years. It is now working on strengthening its internal committees, attracting the youth and spreading to universities – a move to garner support and spread the message of the BRS’ fight against the central government even as Kavitha works towards becoming one of the important national faces for BRS.
But, like Jagruthi, there was a brief period of lull in Kavitha’s activities and her political presence even in the state after she lost to BJP’s Arvind Dharmapuri in 2019. For over a year, she was virtually out of the state’s political picture until she was appointed an MLC in October 2020.
There were also instances which gave rise to speculation whether the daughter and the father were on the same page. For instance, Kavitha skipped one of the most important party events when KCR renamed his party to BRS from Telangana Rashtra Samithi, early October last year.
But, on 11 October, she accompanied KCR to pay last respects to former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in Saifai.
“Her skipping the BRS meeting set a negative tone, so she was called to accompany the CM to UP. There were also discussions on her possible role in the BRS. Kavitha, while she was an MP, built a good rapport with other states’ MPs and she is (now) acting as a bridge between KCR and other CMs. Any CM can talk to their counterpart. What was needed here was someone who could break the ice and set up a political meeting and Kavitha filled that part for KCR,” the BRS leader cited above said.
‘Targeted’ with liquor scam ‘link’
Last year, BJP MP Parvesh Varma and former MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa dragged Kavitha’s name into Delhi liquor policy ‘scam’ in August last year, prompting her to turn to court and obtain injunction orders against the leaders, asking them not to use her name.
In a party meeting last November, KCR spoke about how the BJP approached Kavitha to join them, indirectly hinting that she is being targeted for not giving in. Kavitha, too, confirmed that ‘friends of BJP’ approached her to join the party.
The next month, her name appeared in the ED’s chargesheet which alleged that she was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the scam.
There were phone calls and meetings between the father-daughter duo at the former’s residence-cum-office Pragathi Bhavan to discuss the case. Eventually, her trips to Pragati Bhavan relatively increased.
She made a trip to CM’s residence after she received summons from the CBI in December. “There were meetings with the CM and the legal team on how to go forward with the case before the CBI questioned her,” a party source said to ThePrint.
Kavitha was questioned by the CBI on 11 December, almost a week after the summons. After hours of questioning, she came out of her residence, smiling. Lashing out at the BJP for targeting her while KCR was making an effort to establish his national party, she said she is even ready to go to jail and fight against the BJP. She immediately went to Pragathi Bhavan to meet her father.
Over a period of time, she became vocal and critical of Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s governance and the central government’s policies. Recently, she called the PM’s speech in Parliament ‘disappointing’ for not addressing issues such as allegations of fraud in the Adani group’s businesses.
(Edited by Smriti Sinha)