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The Rediff Election Interview/Nara Chandrababu Naidu

May 11, 2004

ndhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu's Jubilee Hills residence in Hyderabad is a beehive of activity.

With the results of the assembly elections in the state due in a couple of hours, senior Telugu Desam Party leaders are busy drawing up future plans.

Though exit polls are predicting that his government is on its way out in the state, Naidu is confident of winning, albeit with a reduced majority in the 294-seat assembly.

And he is not alone, there are many who believe that the longest-serving chief minister in the state may just pull off the impossible and come back to power.

Speaking to Business Standard, Naidu said his single biggest achievement has been to put Andhra Pradesh on the world map.

You seem to be very confident about the TDP's prospects, despite the exit polls predicting a victory for the opposition.

The credibility that my party and I have among the people of the state makes us confident of our victory. We have worked hard for the welfare of each section of society all these years.

Women, youth, weaker sections... everybody. They have their hopes invested in us. This apart, we have commissioned extensive surveys, far bigger than any of these exit poll sample sizes, and they all indicate that we are coming back to power.

Despite your nationwide popularity, you have consciously restricted yourself to Andhra Pradesh. Why?

I have always believed that by focusing on developing the state, you can create such an impact that the rest of the country will try to emulate your work. Right from the development of backward classes to the issues of governance, our work has had that impact.

That probably explains why I am popular outside the state. The state of Andhra Pradesh is today recognised as a progressive state.

The opposition parties, however, claim that under your leadership the state has done badly on several counts.

You can gauge the development that has taken place over the past nine years in this state by looking at the indicators for health, education and poverty alleviation. Look at the recent performance of the so-called 'backward' districts in education.

Of the ten top performing districts in the SSC results, seven are from the backward Telangana region. This has happened due to our unwavering commitment to the development of backward areas.

The media has been partisan and projected a very poor picture of my government.

My single biggest achievement has been the fact that no one can now say that they have not heard of Andhra Pradesh. I have built Brand Andhra Pradesh in the last nine years and it is a progressive state.

What will you do if you are voted out?

We will see tomorrow. I am confident about coming back to power, but I will always be positive and work for the development of the state. I will always play a positive role keeping in mind the overall interests of the people and the state.

As a political party, the TDP will discharge its duties to the best of its ability, irrespective of whether it is in power or out of power. I have done my best for the people and for the party. I have no regrets. Mind you, we are coming back to power.

Would you continue to advocate reforms?

Certainly, we will continue with our policy of ensuring and encouraging people's participation both in developmental activities and governance.

We will concentrate more on agriculture, creation of jobs and the eradication of poverty. Reforms are a must to achieve all these goals. Only reforms will help eradicate poverty.

What would be the role of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in a post-poll scenario?

They will simply fade away. Like the Congress party, they lack credibility. They make outlandish promises. They promise free power, which they can probably provide for a year.

They are cheating the people with these promises. We do not make such promises because at the end of the day we are honest and want to work honestly for the development of the state.

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India Votes 2004 | The Rediff Interviews

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