Her metamorphosis meant more than the physical journey from tinsel town to the political arena. Irrespective of the party she represented, it is a hard-earned recognition for R.K. Roja as a vociferous speaker and a leader reaching out to the people in the remotest village. Trying to overcome the bitter experiences during 2004-14, Ms. Roja is redrawing her strategies to get back into the reckoning.
In an informal chat with The Hindu, she charged that her hard work went unrecognised in the TDP and recalled how she struck the chord with the YSRC cadre.
Why did you leave the TDP, which made you the State president of its women’s wing and encouraged your growth in all respects?
Initially, the TDP gave me opportunities, but subsequently Mr. Chandrababu Naidu chose to ignore my pleas. The going was fine in Nagari in 2004. Though a newcomer, I took Congress strongman R.Chenga Reddy head-on in Nagari and lost by a narrow margin. I then decided to redraw my strategy and consolidate my position for 2009. But I was forced to move over to Chandragiri.
What made the party change the candidate? Why do you feel it was a damaging move?
Puttur vanished due to the delimitation exercise and the party leadership wanted to accommodate Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu in the neighbouring Nagari. Hence, I was told to fight Congress Minister Galla Arunakumari in Chandragiri. I had made it clear to the leadership that it would be difficult for me to start from scratch and harder for Muddukrishnama Naidu in the new terrain. I lost to Galla Aruna by 10,000 votes, while he (Muddu) scraped through with 1,000 votes in the three-cornered contest.
How’s Nagari responding on your comeback?
Losing in Chandragiri in 2009 was a result of the TDP’s erroneous strategy. I immediately came back to Nagari to stay with my constituents. My husband R.K. Selvamani belongs to Mudaliar community and the voters of this social group, who are in sizeable numbers here, consider me as their daughter-in-law. That adds to my strength.
How’s your position in YSR Congress?
People believe that Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy will deliver the goods. Credibility is one factor that will help see us through. He has, in turn, vested great responsibility in me and I will stand up to my leader’s expectations.