Seeking to expand its electoral footprint beyond Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) on Wednesday changed its name to Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS).
Over two decades after the founding of the party with the objective of carving out a separate Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, the party adopted a unanimous resolution at its general body meeting in Hyderabad, rechristening it as BRS.
Now, the goal is to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party and emerge as a national force to reckon with, bringing together like-minded parties.
In the presence of Janata Dal-Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy, Tamil Nadu's Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol Thirumavalavan, TRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao proposed the name change resolution and it was unanimously passed at the meeting.
Rao's announcement of the name change was welcomed by party functionaries with a big round of applause and amid chants of 'KCR Zindabad and TRS Zindabad'.
The change of name is to expand the party's activities nationwide and the party's constitution is also amended accordingly, Rao said.
The TRS rank and file, who gathered outside the Telangana Bhavan, the TRS headquarters in Hyderabad, went ecstatic and burst crackers and distributed sweets soon after the announcement.
'Desh ke neta KCR' chants reverberated and similar slogans were seen in posters.
'Desh ke neta KCR', 'Dear India he is coming', and 'KCR is on the way', were among the slogans prominently displayed in banners, that could be seen in and around the venue of the meet besides other locations in Hyderabad.
Rao, who has been very critical of the BJP for about a year, is expected to step up his attack against the saffron party and its government at the Centre.
Significantly, the name change move comes against the backdrop of next year's Telangana Legislative Assembly election and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The BRS would showcase the welfare programmes being implemented in Telangana like 'Rythu Bandhu' investment support schemes for farmers and 'Dalit Bandhu' (grant of Rs 10 lakh per household to Dalits).
The change of name by the TRS was welcomed by its friendly party All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen of Asaduddin Owaisi, while the opposition BJP and Congress dismissed it as a non-starter.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President Revanth Reddy alleged Rao has killed the existence of Telangana, and renaming the party is to settle family disputes and fulfill political greed.
Claiming that KCR is 'not eligible' to contest elections in Telangana, Reddy said he strongly condemned Rao's 'evil ideas'.
Telangana BJP chief spokesperson K Krishna Sagar Rao dubbed Chief Minister Rao's national political entry plan a 'misadventurism'.
While Chandrasekhar Rao struggled to keep 'his government operational financially', the national level expansion bid is an unworthy exercise.
KCR's 'misadventurism' in planning national political entry, while struggling to keep his government operational financially is an unworthy exercise, Sagar Rao said.
'This is not the first time a regional party nurtured national ambition. Many regional parties since 1947 have tried and failed. AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), TDP (Telugu Desam Party), SP (Samajwadi Party), BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal), JD-U (Janata Dal-United), TMC (Trinamool Congress) and recently Aam Admi Party are few,' the BJP spokesperson said.
Krishna Sagar Rao said the BJP believes that there's no 'Telangana Model' and it exists only in the fictitious imagination of CM KCR. One can't sell a model to the nation, which doesn't exist.
'I strongly believe CM KCR's initiative will be a self sabotage. Change of the name from TRS to BRS will lead to losing his home turf, while he embarks on a wasteful national ambition,' the BJP leader said.
Rao's move to accelerate his political fight against the BJP coincides with the announcement of schedule for Munugode by-poll in Telangana by the Election Commission.
The polling is scheduled to be held on November 3 and votes would be counted on November 6.
In 2020, the BJP emerged as a force to reckon with in Hyderabad civic polls and also won assembly constituencies in by-polls held to segments including Huzurabad.
The BJP leaders have been vigorously focusing on Telangana as part of the party's efforts to expand its footprint in southern parts of the country
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti was founded on 27 April 2001 by Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR.
TRS is firmly on the saddle of power in Telangana since 2014, when it was carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
Party sources said that the change of name would be communicated to the Election Commission as per rules.