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The Rediff Interview/TRS President K Chandrasekhara Rao
'Delhi will come to the TRS' doorsteps'
January 24, 2008
Telangana Rashtra Samiti President K Chandrasekhara Rao tells B Dasarath Reddy that statehood for Telangana is certain before or immediately after the 2009 general elections.
The TRS has given several deadlines to the United Progressive Alliance government in the past. How serious and different is the latest deadline of March 6?
Only 12 months are left for the general elections and the Election Commission will not accept any policy announcement when the elections are just six months away. So, the UPA government has to take a view within these six months. January is coming to a close. If they still make some lame excuses, the real intentions of the Congress will be clear. Either we must achieve Telangana now or expose the Congress. All our legislators and MPs will resign on March 6 if the Congress and the government do not respond favourably. The Congress will get exposed one hundred per cent for its betrayal.
But similar deadlines in the past met with little success.
I declared on the day of inception of the TRS that statehood for Telangana will be achieved only by translating the demand into a political force and through the political process. Our third anniversary rally in 2003 saw the biggest turnout in the history of Andhra Pradesh. That moment, the Congress started talking about Telangana. It started printing Telangana's map on its flag and its leaders started claiming that the Congress alone would be able to ensure statehood for Telangana. Since (Telugu Desam Party) Chandrababu Naidu [Images] was the first stumbling block, we had to join hands with the Congress to finish him off in the 2004 elections. After winning, the Congress showed its true colours. A week ago, they said the second States Reorganisation Commission was in the offing. Then they said it was not necessary. It shows their muddle-headedness. Our responsibility is to bring clarity in the minds of the people about the Congress' deceit so that they are able to give a clear verdict based on the actions of the political parties.
Your moves have always centered around the approach and stance taken by other major political parties with regard to Telangana. Considering the experience of the last four years, can there be a mid-course correction in your overall political strategy as the issue could possibly be carried forward to the next general elections?
Not at all. It is all about creating political compulsions to make others fall in line. Lalu Prasad said his body would have to be cut into pieces before he allowed Jharkhand to be carved out of Bihar. But when the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won a substantial number of seats in the assembly elections, he had to concede the JMM's demand to ensure he became chief minister for another term. The same Lalu Prasad created Jharkhand. (Chandrababu) Naidu or YSR (Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy) are not bigger leaders than Lalu Prasad. We are on the right course.
Once a protagonist of united Andhra, Naidu now says the TDP will take an appropriate decision on Telangana at an appropriate time. About 32 parties in the country have given written undertakings in favour of Telangana. The entire political environment in the country is favourable to our demand. The Communist Party of India has changed its line. The BJP National Executive adopted a resolution favouring statehood for Telangana. The only stumbling block is YSR.
Your resignations will not impact the UPA government. What do you expect from your act at the national level?
It will certainly defame the Congress at the national level while creating a big political storm in the state. A leader requested me to campaign against the Congress in the recent Gujarat elections stating it would have an impact as people knew that we were betrayed by the Congress. When I resigned from the ministry, I received hundreds of letters in Hindi from the north in support of my demand. This means the Congress will be shown in poor light in the north if it does not respond positively to our March 6 deadline. Sympathies for our demand are so high in the country that several top people, including governors, have personally extended their solidarity to our cause after watching a CD prepared by the party to explain the basis for its cause. Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt [Images] called me up to say he would stand by me.
What will the TRS get out of it?
We need to use all possible methods to create a polarised movement. Our resignations will bring multi-dimensional benefits to the cause of Telangana. People always adore and worship sacrifice. It is going to be yet-another sacrifice, unparalleled in the history of Telangana. All Telanganaites, irrespective of political affiliations, will unite at a peak point, for which these resignations will pave the way. That is our ultimate aim. On Thursday, we conducted a snap poll across 10 districts of Telangana on our March 6 deadline. All respondents hailed the move. The Congress leaders in Telangana are already coming out openly in favour of a quick resolution to the issue without the SRC.
You have already seen the reactions of the Andhra AICC incharge, Veerappa Moily, and Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to your March 6 deadline. Are you still hopeful of a positive response from the UPA chairperson and the prime minister?
Telangana will come. The by-election to these seats will become an indicator of what is in store for the Congress. The entire Telangana will become Karimnagar (from where Rao was re-elected with a huge margin after resigning as MP in response to a challenge thrown by the state Congress leaders). With reorganisation, the number of Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana has gone up to 17 and the number of assembly segments has risen to 119. Once we win these seats, Delhi will come to the doorsteps of the TRS office in Hyderabad. Even if we miss the chance today, we will achieve our demand then.
When everybody starts raising the Telangana pitch during the elections, do you foresee polarisation of votes?
The TRS was born for the single cause, of Telangana. Others talk about Telangana out of compulsion. People will differentiate the TRS from the rest and the two by-elections, Karimnagar and Siddipet, proved exactly that.
What would be your approach to the Congress in the next elections if they announce the process for the creation of Telangana now?
Let us complete this first step first.
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