Whether it is a move towards possible federal front or just an attempt to array the southern parties into a loose confederation of sorts. Nobody is clear as to what the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is working towards. But his scheduled meeting, set for Monday evening (May 13), with DMK president MK Stalin has already set the tongues wagging with intriguing conjectures.

And the one that may be most worried about the quirky developments could well be the Congress.

But first some background: KCR has been gallivanting the southern states and meeting regional chieftains like Pinarayi Vijayan and HD Kumaraswamy. His efforts are seen as a bid to consolidate the non-BJP and non-Congress parties to make the most of the situation should there be a hung verdict in the elections.

Also read: KCR-Stalin meet just a courtesy call, says DMK

KCR's impending meeting with Stalin is however triggering a lot of curious views, as the DMK has been the most unshakeable ally of the Congress. For it to agree to a close-door meeting with a suitor whose intentions are not clear is bound to make the Congress feel uneasy.

The Congress is banking on the support of firm friends like the DMK to bolster its numbers. The DMK too has so far been firmly in the Congress' corner. The DMK did not agree to meet KCR last week even after he sought an appointment for a sitting. The DMK wriggled out of the meet saying that Stalin would be busy with the campaign for the by-elections in Tamil Nadu.

It did not seem to be a convincing explanation, but the DMK trotted it out, and everyone kind of believed that the DMK did not agree to the meeting just to keep the Congress in good humour. It was seen as the firm action of a solid friend.

Also read: Third Front, thy name is instability!

But today, things look a lot dicey for the Congress as the DMK chief will sit down for a close-door meeting with KCR. 

So what changed in one week?

Well, two more phases of polling in the country have ended, and the general belief is that the Congress is not doing as well as it was expected to.

The DMK, which is a past master when it comes to picking up the winds of change — it managed to remain in most coalition governments till 2014 (including Vajpayee's in 1999) — may perhaps have spotted some early trends. The DMK is feeling the need to build new bridges with other parties to stay in relevance in the post-poll situation.

But the DMK is not ready to reveal its cards as yet. The party is saying that Stalin's meeting with the TRS chief is just an academic one, and typically dismisses it as a courtesy call. 

But local political analysts are not ready to buy the argument. They feel that the TRS chief meeting has more potential than what meets the eye. And the portents, they say, don't augur well for the Congress. Stalin, they say, will come out of today's meeting and talk in typical cliches about still being ally of the Congress. But the Congress will have reasons to be suspicious.    
However, there are also speculations that the federal front or third front is just a figment of imagination of some sections of the media, and what KCR is really up to is to build some kind of regional confederacy to collectively fight against the Centre. It is a fact that many southern parties have had deep misgivings with the Central governments over the years. In general, south India feels a little hard done by Delhi over the years.

A coming together of parties from south India can make them a strong force, and collectively their voices can be made to heard better in New Delhi is the idea, say some sources in the TRS. 

But there is also a talk that the TRS chief may soon fly to Uttar Pradesh and Bengal to meet Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee. The plan is to give a fillip to the federal structure in the country.

The situation is certainly fluid. Both the BJP and the Congress will doubtless view the developments with extra care. The Congress, however, will also feel some butterflies in its stomach.