‘Congress is a grand old party. We have experienced leaders. Saying that Congress is being remotely controlled by Chandrababu Naidu, is completely false.’
HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: Congress spokesperson and former MP, Madhu Yaskhi Goud, spoke to The Sunday Guardian last week on the Telangana elections. Excerpts:
Q: Why do you think Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) went for early elections?
A: After Telangana state was created, the aspirations of the people of Telangana who fought for the creation of the state, have been, one, for jobs—particularly the youth thought that the Andhra people were taking away their jobs; two, water distribution between the upper riparian states, from Maharashtra to down here in (the then) Andhra; and three, the funds. Predominantly, out of 60 years, the Chief Ministers were from Andhra and they were taking away all the funds to develop their areas in the Andhra region, but not the Telangana region. So this was the prime concern of the people—“self rule”. So what KCR did was he promised the two-bedroom houses, loan waiver, 1 lakh jobs to the youth… He said that the first Dalit CM will be there, (promised) KG to PG free education, free healthcare system, then (promised) special plans for OBCs, SCs and STs, 12% reservation for Muslims and tribals, 3% reservation for Christians. But none of these promises were fulfilled. On top of it, he diverted the funds of even Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Rs 4,000 crore to the irrigation schemes, which, in the name of redesigning, he took the cost of irrigation project—which the Congress planned, Pranahita Chevella—from Rs 38,000 crore to above Rs 1.5 lakh crore. So this high increase in the cost of irrigation projects, in the name of redesigning, is nothing but sheer corruption—6-10% of commission; the pipes for the project, his son’s company used to supply. Then his family members are stakeholders in many pubs and beer manufacturing to real estate companies to healthcare system. So more or less the funds got drained. There are no funds to even pay (for welfare schemes). The fee reimbursement system is one of the key factors behind OBCs, Dalits and minorities to get education. The government is supposed to pay for students from these sections to go to private educational institutions. The private hospitals stopped the treatment of poor people because they were not getting paid. Hospitals were not reimbursed. So the welfare schemes completely failed… One of the biggest attractions for which he got the votes in the Hyderabad municipal elections was that he promised two lakh two-bedroom flats/houses for poor people, in the municipal elections. None of these were fulfilled, and if you complete your term then people would start questioning. And by going for an early election he thought that he was playing it smart and the opposition was not prepared.
To tell you the truth, my state team, on 6 September, when the Assembly was dissolved—because of the kind of disarray was there—was a bit nervous. But I was very confident the day the dissolution was announced. I said our victory started from that day. Whenever a leader becomes arrogant and has absolute power, he becomes blind and corrupt. His absolute power, his disconnect with the people—staying in the farmhouse, not coming to the secretariat for four years, not meeting people at all, even his Cabinet colleagues cannot see him without an appointment, forget about MPs and MLAs. So that kind of arrogance and aristocratic rule and failed promises, resulted in… On top of it, the suppression of fundamental rights of the people. It is the right of the Opposition to question the governance of the ruling government… People of Telangana are quite vocal about protecting their rights and democratic values, and fighting against aristocratic rule (of the Velama community, to which KCR belongs). The whole Naxal movement was started against these people. Suppressing those rights by brute force. Taking away the Dharna Chowk (at Indira Park) and not allowing the people to express; giving false cases against Congress and other party workers; luring them with either false cases or with money. This has given rise to an inbuilt anger and that’s what you see when you travel across the state. The people have woken up and they are raising their voice.
Q: Would Congress have been able to deal with the situation without help from Chandrababu Naidu? It is being said, KCR himself has said, that it is Naidu who is remote controlling the campaign and pouring in resources.
A: Straight and simple question: Which remote control of Naidu stopped him from giving two bedroom houses to the poor? Which remote control of Naidu stopped him from giving jobs to the youth? Which remote control of Naidu stopped him from giving three acres of land to Dalits? Which remote control stopped him from giving 12% of reservation to Muslims and tribals? This is a lame excuse that he is making to divert attention. Mr Naidu came and met Mr (Rahul) Gandhi at his house, Congress has more experience and Mr Naidu himself has started his political career, like KCR, from Congress. So Congress is a grand old party. We have experienced leaders… Accusing that Congress has been remotely controlled by Naidu, is completely false and is only diversionary tactics. Instead of telling the people of Telangana that I have achieved so much, he is again trying to rake up the sentiments of Andhra-Telangana. As a Chief Minister, how can he use filthy language against another CM of a state? He was a disciple of Chandrababu Naidu. In front of Chandrababu Naidu he cannot even sit, even today. Whenever they have high tea at the Governor’s, he stands and cannot sit in front of Naidu, because of his old respect for him.
Q: But would Congress have been able to take on the TRS without Naidu’s help?
A: Congress will get 60 plus seats on its own (in an Assembly of 119 seats); and TDP, CPI and TJS will get additional seats. This is the latest indication even according to Central intelligence.