When he told his ministers, leaders and workers to work as a "coolie" for two days to raise money for a grand party convention, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had promised to lead by example. On Friday, his son and the powerful IT Minister KT Rama Rao took the hint and turned up at an ice-cream parlour, borrowed an apron from the helper and got down to the job.
Reports said he was out of Suchitra ice-cream parlour along the Hyderabad-Nagpur National Highway in less than an hour and yet, had made a cool Rs 7.5 lakh. That is lot more than what the parlour makes in a month.
But he had some pretty rich customers, mostly party politicians. For one, the 63-year-old Malla Reddy who didn't go to college in his younger days but owns a chain of engineering colleges in the state. Mr Reddy is a lawmaker in parliament, elected on the rival TDP ticket, who switched sides last year. He spent a whopping Rs 5 lakhs for an ice-cream, and he isn't complaining.
Lawmakers from the Andhra-Telangana belt are among the richest in the country; the education baron had declared assets worth Rs 48 crore in 2014.
There will be more such gestures within the next one week that Chief Minister, also known as KCR, calls "Gulaabi Cooli Dinalu'' or "Pink Labourer Days" (pink is the colour of the TRS).
For someone who spent Rs 5.5 crores of taxpayers' money for his Rs 5-crore gift to Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala, KCR's initiative is curious.
According to the Chief Minister, the money that the party leaders earn during their two-days of hard labour will be used to meet the expenses of the grand annual convention of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti or TRS on April 21, followed by a public meeting to be held at Warangal next Friday.
He had added that the party had already collected "nearly 35 crore rupees in membership fee and that is reaching our party bank account".
That is almost four times the Rs 8.9 crore that the TRS had declared as its income in 2015-16 to the Election Commission. In 2015, it had declared an income of Rs 24.6 crore. In both years, according to its statement of accounts, it spent every penny that it earned during the year.
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