‘The CM’s welfare schemes have benefited 1.5 crore people.’
HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: In Telangana, even rivals of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) admit in private that they are not winning the urban Assembly constituency of Warangal West, located around 145-km from Hyderabad. It is a TRS bastion, thanks to the ground connect of the sitting MLA, Dasyam Vinay Bhaskar. Last week, The Sunday Guardian caught up with this three-time MLA and erstwhile Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Chief Minister’s Office, as he took a break from his padayatra in the Machhlibazar area of Telangana’s second largest city after Hyderabad, by walking into some random home, much to the delight of the homeowners who are also his voters. Excerpts:
Q: You may be really confident of winning for the fourth time, but I am hearing a lot about the TRS being in a very bad shape in the state. I am hearing that the Mahakutami (alliance of the Congress, Telugu Desam Party and a few others) is likely to come to power. Why do you think such a situation has arisen?
A: We are going to win in not less than 80 constituencies (out of the state’s 119 Assembly seats). We are going to get an absolute majority. We are confident. Why? Because of schemes that have been implemented by our honourable Chief Minister for the past four and a half years. 1.5 crore people have benefited from several welfare schemes, such as Kalyana Lakshmi/Shaadi Mubarak (cash doles for girls of marriageable age), KCR Kit (given to mothers of newborns), pensioners, CM Relief Fund, Anganwadi, and many more. For example, in my constituency, 59,000 have benefited from these welfare schemes. So, we are very confident. Moreover, the beneficiaries do not have to meet any officers (to avail of these schemes). We personally meet the beneficiaries and give them the cheques. So people are very happy with the KCR government.
Q: So from where is this buzz coming?
A: There has been negative propaganda on social media, etc. As of now we are comfortable and we are winning not less than 80 seats.
Q: I heard that in Warangal district, with 12 seats, not more than three will go to the TRS. What’s your view on this?
A: We may lose one or two, but not more than that. The erstwhile Warangal district has 12 seats in all, and we are comfortable in 9-10 of these seats.
Q: But the Reddys are working against you. Chandrababu Naidu is working against you. How can all this not have an effect?
A: As far as the Reddys are concerned, recently our CM has announced a Reddy (welfare) corporation, which the Reddy community has been demanding for the past few years. So they are happy now. The large section of Reddys is with us. Some sections may differ, but Reddys are largely with us.
Q: And what about the Backward Class (BC) voters (who are a big voting bloc in the state)?
A: BCs are with us, because of the many welfare schemes for the Yadavs, for the Goudas and for many other BC sections.
Q: But what about the Madigas (a Scheduled Caste, which comprises around 12% of the votes and which is believed to have shifted largely to the Mahakutami)? I am told that the Madigas are not with you.
A: Some sections. Some sections may oppose us, but most of them are with us.
Q: And what about the OCs (open/general category), that is the upper castes?
A: See, they are happy. For instance, Brahmin priests who perform pujas at temples, they are getting a salary of Rs 6,000. There is a health scheme for Brahmins. There is a Brahmin (welfare) corporation. Why should they oppose us?
Q: One of the major complaints I have heard after coming here is that KCR is benefiting primarily his own Velama caste and his own family. And his inaccessibility is a problem.
A: KCR has so few relatives that you can count them on your fingertips. They never approach KCR. Also, as per my knowledge, he will never entertain his relatives.
Q: But what about his accessibility?
A: Of course, as CM he has to do a lot of work, so he may not give time to others. But if he finds time, he will call us, he will interact with us, he will discuss with us. There have been several instances where he has discussed (matters) with us and those have been implemented.
Q: What is Chandrababu Naidu’s role in all this?
A: He wants to dilute the Telangana issue again. That is the reason he has been interfering in our state. What work does he have here? When two states have been separated, he should stay confined to his state. TDP was born as an anti Congress force and until recently the TDP was opposed to the Congress. But now for their own interests they have united. People are watching and will give a befitting reply to the Congress and TDP.