Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao, who is popularly known as KTR, is the son of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. He is the caretaker Minister for Information technology in the Telangana government. An MBA from New York University, KTR took an active role in the Telangana agitation. A cabinet member of the dissolved Assembly, he spoke to DH on the ensuing early elections in the state.
BJP president Amit Shah has dared KCR to project a Schedule Caste leader as a chief ministerial candidate as promised before the 2014 elections to the state.
Let me remind Shah that in 2014 we went to the people of Telangana saying that KCR will be our chief minister. People have accepted it and given a verdict. In 2018, we are projecting KCR as our chief ministerial candidate. If people agree with that what is Shah’s problem? The plank of SC leader as a chief minister was in the past. We have realised that we need a man who has a comprehensive understanding of the newborn state and there wasn’t a better person in the state to run the administration than KCR. As a party, our legislators have elected him as their leader. KCR is hale and hearty and can lead the state and the party for at least another decade.
The TRS says that Telangana has made tremendous strides in many sectors, then why go for an early election?
When we started our journey, we wanted nonpartisan governance and followed it in letter and spirit. We have not discriminated against any Opposition MLA. But the Opposition Congress started putting hurdles in developmental projects, particularly irrigation projects. The party even forged the signatures of dead people and filed as many as 186 cases. The bitterness was getting too ugly. We thought that we better seek a fresh mandate from people to put an end to these.
Why have you called the grand alliance efforts of the Congress, TDP, CPI and Prof Kodandaram’s Telangana Jana Samthi (TJS) as “Maha Ghatiya Bandhan”?
Kodandaram says that he will work with the TDP and the Congress, who were responsible for the backwardness of this region. Kodandaram takes the name of martyrs who laid down their lives for statehood. Which martyr told Kodandaram to join hands with the TDP? Will Naidu after becoming a part of the Telangana government allow the state to complete its irrigation projects? When we formed alliances with the Congress in 2004 and with the TDP in 2009 we made them agree for Telangana. This alliance has no basis.
The TRS hopes to win 100 seats out of the 119 in the upcoming elections. In the absence of a popular sentiment such as the Telangana agitation will you be able to reach that mark?
After the 2014 Assembly elections, the TRS has contested in 11 polls including the GHMC elections and the TRS has won by-elections to the seats vacated by Congress MLAs by a massive margin. Agitator KCR has succeeded in becoming an able administrator. With KCR as our leader, we will sweep the elections.
We have delivered all our promises particularly with regards to water, employment and funds. Mission Bhagiratha and Kaleswaram project in the irrigation sector, 40,000 new jobs and another 60,000 are in the pipeline and 95% of jobs are reserved for locals. Now the revenue generated in Telangana is used within the state and there has been no law and order crisis in the state in the past four years.
How do you rate Modi, his demonetisation and the GST policy?
As far as the Telangana government is concerned, the Modi government has been a big let-down. They have not fulfiled a number of promises like Information Technology Investment region (ITIR), Bayyaram Steel Project and a division of the high court. They have not lived up to the expectations of the Telangana people. Shah comes here and says that the Centre has given Rs 2.3 lakh crores to Telangana. It’s grossly against Federalism and let’s not forget that Telangana as a fastest growing state has also contributed to the Union. He should refrain from saying such things.
Being a party that has always kept national interests ahead of regional interests, we have supported both. The governments sometimes have lapses in judgement. Especially demonetisation hasn’t been able to reap the benefits for the people. The GST has been partly successful.
If you are a fastest growing state why oppose Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh?
Tax incentives were promised for both the states. Not just Telangana but Tamil Nadu and Karnataka also opposed SCS for AP. As it would give an undue advantage to that state. See SCS is given to Northeast states. The TRS has no problem if AP gets special incentives, but at the same time, they should also take care of Telangana. Telangana was part of AP which was neglected for years.