No vacancy for chief minister’s post in Telangana, says K T Rama Rao
The people will not appreciate the Congress joining hands with the Telugu Desam Party, which has moved courts and written letters to the Centre against projects like the Kaleshwaram on the Godavari and the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy lift scheme on the Krishna river.
Telangana is going for early elections with the state assembly being dissolved nine months ahead of its actual term. It is a calculated risk by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), as Opposition parties are gearing up to form a grand alliance with the sole agenda of dethroning TRS president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. In an exclusive interview to Srinivasa Rao Apparasu, K T Rama Rao, tipped to be the chief minister-in-waiting, says the federal front proposed by his father might be on the backburner at least for now, but the TRS would continue its efforts in that direction after 2019 elections. Edited excerpts:
Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has attributed his decision to dissolve the state assembly to aggressive criticism from the opposition. How can that be the reason, as in a democracy the opposition is expected to criticise the government and expose its lapses?
I admit that it is expected of the opposition to constructively criticise the government. But Telangana is a new state and it needs the support of all sections of the people, including the opposition parties, to help the government build a strong state setting aside their political interests. We expected that the opposition would extend such support. Unfortunately, right from day one, the Congress had been attacking the TRS government...When we realised that the Congress’s vitriolic attacks were peaking as the elections are approaching, we thought of seeking a fresh mandate from the people...I don’t know why we are being faulted for going for early polls when we have given up power nine months in advance. In fact, the opposition should be happier to face elections early, as it will give them a chance to come to power ahead of schedule.
How do you look at the attempts of opposition parties to form a grand alliance? How does it affect your prospects?
We welcome the formation of such a grand alliance ... there is no people’s agenda behind the alliance and the only common agenda is to defeat the TRS. The people will not appreciate the Congress joining hands with the Telugu Desam Party, which has moved courts and written letters to the Centre against projects like the Kaleshwaram on the Godavari and the Palamuru-Ranga Reddy lift scheme on the Krishna river. If the grand alliance is voted to power, will TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu allow these projects to be completed? How can the Congress justify an alliance with such a party?
The TRS has proposed to form a coalition of sorts at the national level in the name of a federal front. It also comprises various parties with their respective regional interests. How different will this front be?
There is absolutely no comparison between the two. While a grand alliance is purely opportunistic aimed at dislodging the KCR government, the federal front we had proposed was aimed at bringing a qualitative change in the lives of people in the country... We are looking to set an agenda for good governance in the country.
But there seem to be not many takers for this proposal...
Maybe they are looking for an opportunistic alliance. The TDP is not averse to working with the Congress, but we are certainly not interested in joining hands with either the Congress or the BJP. We believe that both these parties that have governed the country for seven decades have failed to address the basic needs of the people...
You oppose both the Congress and the BJP. Don’t you think there is need for a national party that can serve as a common thread to connect all the regional parties on a common agenda?
Why only Congress and BJP? Are there no other parties in the country? In fact, TRS itself may emerge as a rallying point for the regional parties and bind them together.
What kind of role would the TRS play at the national level in 2019?
We will talk about it when we get to it. Right now, we are focusing on assembly elections.
There have been several instances recently that suggest the TRS is cosying up to the BJP, your comments.
It is not correct. We voted for the BJP’s candidate in the Presidential elections because, as a matter of principle, we wanted to support a Dalit candidate. We supported the BJP’s candidate for the Vice-President’s post because he was a Telugu man. We did not support the BJP in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections but voted for the JD (U) candidate, as he had requested our support. We supported the demonetization and GST because we sincerely believed that they were good for the country. In the no-confidence motion, we did not vote for the BJP but abstained. So, where was the case in which we supported the BJP? As far as surveys are concerned, let them say what they believe and we will do what we have to.
How do you rate the TRS government’s performance in the last four years?
I cannot be objective if I give a rating. We have already decided to go to polls. People have to rate us. They will give a wise judgement.
There is talk that after the elections you will be made chief minister
Right from ordinary party worker to myself, everybody wants KCR to continue as CM for at least another 15 years. There is no vacancy for the chief minister’s post. And talk of his successor at this stage does not arise at all.
First Published: Sep 23, 2018 07:18:43