Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who was here to release the manifesto of AP Congress Committee, says it is important for both Telangana and the successor State of Andhra Pradesh to have Congress governments in place. He discusses the party's prospects in both the regions in an interview with The Hindu.

The Congress, post-bifurcation, suffered major setback in Seemandhra. On the other hand, the party has not been vociferous about its achievement of Telangana State. Where did the party strategy go wrong?

Firstly, the Congress is very well placed in Telangana and we will definitely form government on our own. In Seemandhra too, we will garner politically respectable and significant vote share. Things are looking up as new and young leaders have been identified. Though some of the seniors may not be contesting, leaders like Sailajanath and Saipratap are back in the party and contesting on party ticket.

Do you acknowledge that the party should have handled the bifurcation issue with better sensitivity given the stiff opposition to it from Seemandhra people?

It’s not so much about the decision on State division as it was a much deliberated decision and endorsed by all political parties. But our political communication in explaining the inevitability of division was bad. The party failed to communicate effectively that it understood the Seemandhra concerns in the initial weeks and could not convince them that they would be addressed effectively to benefit both the regions. On one hand, K. Chandrasekhar Rao was using the provocative language and the then Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy was equally adamant to yield ground. They both became the mirror images and our message was lost in the din.

There is a perception that the recent public meeting of AICC president Sonia Gandhi, her first in the region after Telangana was created was not a resounding success…

I don’t agree. People’s response to her was extremely good. I think her speech was pointed and punchy. She will be back again. Rahul Gandhi will also address more meetings.

You said for the progress and prosperity of new AP State, a Congress government in Telangana is must, Why?

For the continuous growth of Hyderabad which is today a national treasure and international city and also progress of new AP, a Congress government in Telangana is essential. Any other government will blackmail, extort, provoke and create new disputes. It is only the Congress party which will ensure the two States will move forward peacefully. The agenda of TRS is provocation. They know no other language.