Prof M Kodandaram, former Telangana Joint Action Committee chairman, who spearheaded the movement for a separate state along with the TRS, has come a long way since parting ways with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. The retired Osmania University professor has launched the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and has joined the grand alliance of the Congress, Telugu Desam (TDP) and the CPI with the sole aim of defeating the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. His party has been allocated eight seats by the alliance but he has fielded candidates in 12 segments for the Assembly elections. An excerpt of J B S Umanadh's interview with the TJS chief for DH:
The TRS is projecting KCR as its chief minister candidate while the grand alliance is struggling with seat allocations. Do the alliance have common CM face?
I really don’t understand why and when a person becomes more important than the system. What is important is what the new government or the incumbent will do for the state? What KCR has done for the state in the past four-and-a-half years? Why would people vote for him? He has run the government to benefit his family members. He has taken Telangana back to the rule of “Gadis” (Mansions of feudal landlords) by running sand mafia and benefiting big contractors. So it is not important who will be our chief ministerial candidate.
The TRS is upset about your party joining hands with the Congress, which is run from New Delhi, and spreading the fear of frequent change of chief ministers on the behest of their high command.
No doubt they (Congress) will be consulting their leaders in New Delhi being a national party. But I am sure that they can’t run to Delhi for every small issue. Decision-making must be decentralised and Telangana problems must find solutions within the state only. If Congress continues with that kind of politics then it will be in loss. Maybe on a second thought, I feel that even uncertainty is better, as the incumbent will be in constant fear that he might be changed by the high command if he fails to perform than an autocratic CM like KCR who works without any fear. I believe that he has caused enough instability already. Tell me which section of the society is happy during his rule. I prefer credibility over stability.
You met AICC chief Rahul Gandhi recently. Have you sought any assurance from him?
It was a meeting to understand what is in the mind of Rahul Ji and also introduce ourselves with our JAC background. We sought legal sanctity for the Common Minimum Programme and an implementing authority for which I was made in charge. He agreed with our suggestions. They have run the UPA government with such an understanding with Sonia Gandhi as a force behind it.
You have fielded candidates in seats more than allocated for your party, particularly against the TDP. You might call it a friendly contest but isn’t it against the spirit of the alliance dharma?
The problem will be resolved soon.
You have joined hands with the TDP you once vehemently opposed.
Earlier both the parties had different agendas. Now the agenda is to defeat the misrule of KCR. Our aim is social justice and all those who support that cause can join us.
Why you are not contesting the elections? If the grand alliance experiment fails, you may not have a voice in the Telangana Assembly to highlight people’s agenda?
I am not contesting as I have the responsibility of campaigning for the party candidates. Whatever may be the results, we are always battle-ready. The Telangana agitation has taught us many lessons and has also given us a wide network of like-minded institutions, people and NGOs. We will fight and survive.