Interview with TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
TELENGANA Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao has once again brought the issue of separate Telengana centre stage. Soon after calling off his hunger strike in New Delhi on August 24, the TRS chief held a two-day brainstorming session with party workers on the next course of action. The party has finalised an agitation programme against the Congress, with which it forged an alliance for the local bodies elections in Andhra Pradesh recently.Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:What is the TRS' future programme?
Achieving statehood for Telengana is the only agenda the TRS has had ever since its inception five years ago. This was on top of my priority list when I joined the UPA government [in 2004]. We strove for it in New Delhi by garnering support and building a consensus among the parties represented in Parliament. Now we want to consolidate the organisation, prepare the people for the battle and conduct a vigorous campaign to expose the Congress' designs.
The Congress says a consensus on the issue had not evolved as desired by the Common Minimum Programme. Whereas you claim there is a consensus.
We have received the support of more than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament. I have already released the letters of support offered by 26 parties with 450 MPs. In spite of such a clear-cut consensus on granting statehood, the Congress is dilly-dallying on the issue. It maintains that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is opposed to a separate Telengana.
What is your view on the development card played by the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh to show that the separate Telengana slogan has died down?
Former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had shouted more than these [Congress] people. He indulged in a jugglery of figures and projected a high-profile image of Telengana. The same is the case now. The State government has in fact brought disaster to Telengana.
We have conveyed this to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. It was precisely on account of the anti-Telengana programmes that the TRS Ministers were withdrawn from the ruling coalition in the State last year.
You have expressed apprehensions about the future agitation of the TRS taking a violent turn.
We will not provoke violence. The withdrawal of my recent fast was aimed at preventing violence. It would have been a mess had I continued for another two or three days. Our legislators could have whipped up social tension.
Any plans of resigning from Parliament and the Assembly and seeking a re-election to prove your popularity?
No. We got elected on our own [strength]. We want to use Parliament as a dais to promote our cause.
Do you plan to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party as it has expressed support for a separate Telengana?
We are a force by ourselves. We will think about it in the future, as we are not sure whether the BJP is committed to the movement.