Telangana will witness its first assembly election after being carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Ahead of the state assembly elections in Telangana, CNN-News 18's Marya Shakil spoke to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and IT Minister KT Rama Rao on the prospects of his party in the upcoming polls.
Telangana will witness its first assembly election after being carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Incumbent Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had prematurely dissolved the state's assembly which warranted elections in the state. KT Rama Rao is KCR's son.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Most surveys are showing it is advantage KCR in this election. Has the move of advancing elections worked on the ground?
KTR: If we look at every single election that has taken place in Telangana in the last four years, TRS has won extremely convincingly. This includes the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, which are considered a mini general election of sorts. These Assembly polls don't appear any different, with TRS clearly ahead.
Seven surveys that have come out in the last two months have shown that TRS will win with at least two-thirds majority. We are very confident.
A grand alliance, called mahakutami, has been forged to take on your party in these elections. The alliance includes the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the CPI and the Telangana Jana Samiti. Are you confident of your strategy of going alone against this alliance?
KTR: In 2014, when we had won the election, we won it with a majority. This time around, it is going to be no different. During the last election, the Congress had allied with CPI and other parties. But, this time even the Telugu Desam has joined its alliance. We call it ‘Maha Ghatiya Bandhan’. There is no fundamental basis on which this alliance can base itself. It is an opportunistic alliance with the objective of power mongering. The people of Telangana don’t see any logic or rationale behind this alliance. We are very confident that the Congress has shot itself in the foot, and this alliance, which is bundled with contradictions, will cost them dearly.
The model of a 'grand alliance' in Telangana is also playing out at the national level. In fact, Chandrababu Naidu is also meeting MK Stalin in order to mobilise a united opposition or an anti-Modi bloc. In March this year, your father [KCR] had reached out to all non-Congress, non-BJP parties to work together. At that time, Naidu had shown an inclination towards that, as did West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. What exactly is the status of that third front or federal front as was talked about in March?
KTR: Our stand is very clear. The so-called national parties – both the BJP and the Congress – have failed our nation in the last 71 years of independence. There are still many issues plaguing this nation which haven’t been resolved by either of these parties.
What we want is more power to the state, more federal approach – not just lip sympathy by calling it cooperative federalism or competitive federalism. If India has to progress and emerge as a strong nation, the state has to be empowered and that is exactly why the idea of a federal front was rooted by our leader KCR. What Chandrababu Naidu and other parties are up to now is none of our concern. We hope to win this election in December convincingly and then we will start focusing on national politics. We will start making our moves after 11 December.
So are you saying that there will be another attempt at a federal front post-December?
KTR: Absolutely! In fact, our CM and our leader is extremely clear that both the national parties have failed this nation, and that this country needs stronger regional forces which can come together and can assure the true federal spirit.
Who will stand with you as far as an anti-Modi bloc is concerned, that is formalising and taking shape? We are seeing Sharad Pawar, Chandrababu Naidu, Mamata Banerjee, and Akhilesh Yadav. Who really would be a part of the federal front?
KTR: The world is not as simple as it seems and there isn't only a bipolar kind of situation that it is only UPA or NDA. There will be a third front. There will be a coalition of like-minded parties which will emerge because we still have a long way to go for national elections. Right now, we are focusing on just state elections. After those, you can expect a lot of things to happen in January and February.
It doesn’t look like that Chandrababu Naidu is concentrating on state elections that are due in December. Why do you think he has gone for a coalition with the Congress party in the state to take on you?
KTR: Desperate times call for desperate measures and Chandrababu Naidu's party faces an extinction threat in Telangana. Therefore, he is merely trying to assert himself and retain a seat or two in Telangana by way of this alliance. It’s a desperate gamble to try and cook up a coalition which has no fundamental basis whatsoever. His party will be decimated in Telangana.
There have been speculations that your father had kept the central leadership of BJP in the loop when he dissolved the assembly prematurely in September this year. So, is KCR going to be a part of the BJP-led NDA before or after 2019?
KTR: Let me put it this way – speculate as you may, the fact is clear that we are an independent party. We are neither a part of the UPA nor a part of the NDA. We have no friendship or liking for any of the national parties. We have consistently maintained that they have failed the nation. So, to accuse us or speculate that we are going to sail with the BJP is nothing but humbug. You will see our efforts to actually bring a viable alternative to the NDA or the UPA after December 11.
Can you assure the people of Telangana that you are not going to support the BJP before 2019 and all that is just rumor and speculation?
KTR: Absolutely, without a question! There is no way our ideology can compel us to come together. We have a very different view from the BJP on this country and on our state.There is no way we can work together and I assure you that Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which is going to sweep the upcoming assembly elections, will also win at least 15 parliament seats in Telangana. We will have a very important role to play in Delhi. We believe very strongly that a few regional parties coming together can certainly dictate who will be in driver's seat in Delhi after April 2019, and you will see TRS playing a very important role there. I can assure you that it is neither going to be the BJP, nor the Congress which will be in the driver's seat in Delhi.
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