‘The Congress has bungled up on Telangana.’
‘Five years ago, Telangana was unnecessary, but now it’s time to look for a solution with least damage.’
Lok Satta Party chief Jayaprakash Narayan (right) talks to Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa on the Telangana turmoil, the ‘juvenile’ Aam Aadmi Party and more.
Amid all the turmoil and political one-upmanship over Telangana, Lok Satta Party national president Jayaprakash Narayan seems to one of the few politicians from Andhra Pradesh who have not jumped into the fray.
An MP from Kukatpally constituency, JP, as he is popularly known as, has been batting for an amicable solution on Telangana.
It was in 1996 that he started the Lok Satta Movement to educate citizens about voting, their rights and the government. With a similar agenda, he launched the party in 2006.
Jayaprakash Narayan spoke to Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa.
Your thoughts on the Telangana issue…
The stage has passed when one argued about the formation of Telanagana. Today, one needs to think of the best solution for the crisis and how to create a new state with the least damage. Five years ago, the formation of Telangana was unnecessary, but today the time has come to form it in an amicable manner.
How do you think the Congress has handled the issue?
They have bungled up spectacularly. It is a classic case of how not to do things. Eventually, this issue will become a case study.
The Congress has played political games without exploring a lot of factors. They should have looked at various alternatives and also considered public opinion. Only once all this was done, should they have gone ahead with the bill.
…And Kiran Kumar Reddy?
There are many issues attached with the manner in which Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has handled the situation. He is brought up in Hyderabad but has his political base in Chittoor. Hence, there’s a conflict of the soul.
The second issue is regarding his bravado. He wants to emerge as the hero to a section of people. So, he is trying to use this situation to his advantage. He is not acting like a statesman. His actions today are indicative of a leader trying to divide his people. Instead, he needs to be looking at options where all people are happy.
Have politicians told the truth about Telangana?
The reason why the issue was raked up was because the people said that phenomenal injustice had been done to those from Telagnana. However, for the past three years none of the leaders have spoken about this aspect.
Why has the Telugu Desam Party kept quiet for 10 years? They should have spoken the truth about the subject. Today, even when some parties are speaking the truth, it’s about their convenience.
The truth about the issues of Telangana and its problems should been spoken at an appropriate time and not at a convenient time. I can say confidently that the Lok Satta is the only party which spoke the truth about the issue. In Telangana, there is no organised discrimination, but there are other major issues such as backwardness, which need to be addressed.
How do you see the BJP’s prospects in Telangana or Seemandhra?
The BJP wants the Congress to perish. Over the past six months, the Congress has made no attempt to understand the crux of the Telangana issue and now it seeks to do it in six hours.
The BJP, on the other hand, cannot go back on the Telangana issue since it has made a commitment. Going back would raise a question about its credibility. What the BJP hopes is for an ally in Seemandhra. It hopes that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi would go with them after the elections.
In the long run, the BJP feels that Telangana will be its stronghold; it could even play a very soft Hindutva card on the issue. The BJP, however, is not exhibiting any haste.
How do you see the prospects of the TRS and the Congress?
The TRS will not survive long. It is an opportunistic family party and once Telangana is formed it will have no agenda left. The Congress, on the other hand, knows that it will be wiped out if Telangana is not formed.
Is Jaganmohan Reddy an emerging force?
Jaganmohan Reddy is not necessarily a strong candidate. He is only a phenomenon for this election. From the day he started his own party, his graph has declined, but then again not to the extent that he can be written off.
There are many claimants in Seemandhra. At the moment, Jagan and Chandrababu Naidu appear to be champions. The Congress ministers too have started making the right noises. In such a scenario, it will not be a cakewalk for Jagan.
There is talk that you may tie up with the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Aam Admi Party is not a significant factor in Andhra Pradesh. It’s like a child exposing the nakedness of the emperor. What happens if this child is made the emperor?
Their politics is juvenile and they are going back to the 1960s socialist style of functioning without thinking of the nation’s future. They need to deal with issues more patiently and have to learn negotiating skills. They cannot issue an order overnight.
The AAP will have no significance in south India and once its novelty wears out it will lose significance in north India too.
However, it’s heartening to see other parties adapting. The BJP is talking more about economic growth instead of divide. Rahul Gandhi has started speaking the AAP language, although it is belated. Overall parties are adapting to the better features of the AAP.
What is the Lok Satta’s agenda for the elections this year?
First would be Telangana. We need to ensure that all people live as brothers. There is no point in fighting each other.
What have other parties offered in Andhra Pradesh? The TDP is only keen on naming its successor (Chandrababu Naidu’s son Lokesh). Moreover, the party is announcing freebies without thinking of the future knowing fully well it will burden the state and sooner or later destroy it.
Jagan on the other hand stands for corruption and his party is all about him, his sister and his mother. The TRS ferments hatred and indulges in loot. And we, the Lok Satta, will expose all these parties.
We will have a powerful agenda and the main intention is to ensure that all children get an opportunity in terms of quality education and healthcare. We want to ensure 24 hours power supply and economic growth; we want to ensure that services are delivered.
Your thoughts on a possible alliance between the BJP and TDP…
In the short term, both the TDP and the BJP will gain. Both need this alliance. There is no doubt about the Modi factor across the country. The BJP has the Modi factor and the TDP its organisational capabilities.
Image: A pro-Telangana supporter holds a banner during a protest against the government in Hyderabad
Photograph: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters