Former Chief Minister and founder of Jai Samaikyandhra Party N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who has always played with a straight bat, exhibits an air of nonchalance. As he braces up to test the election pitch, Mr. Kiran Reddy says people are the real umpires who would decide his and his fledgling party’s fate.

In a freewheeling interview with The Hindu, he shares his thoughts and views.

Everyone says JSP will only be a third player behind YSR Congress and Telugu Desam in the coming elections. What assurances are you going to give to boost confidence of people in your party?

The party was born out of the need to uphold the self-esteem of the Telugu people. We will tell the people that we are here to work for them and their unity. We will be the pulse of the people and represent their problems at the right fora.

What’s your party’s X-factor? Will it help you turn the tide in your party’s favour?

A majority of the parties have a different take from that of the people’s perception on various issues. But JSP is different. Transparency, belief in democracy and the will to work for the welfare of Telugu people would be the clinching factors for us. Jai Samaikyandhra is a common man’s slogan and we as a party will never deviate from that.

You have chosen ‘slippers’ as your party symbol. Was it a conscious decision to identify it with the common man or a mere take-off from Arvind Kejriwal party’s broom symbol?

We can’t walk on one leg or leave the other leg to hang loose in the air. Both Seemandhra and Telangana are two legs and to walk as one State, we need both legs. The slippers remind you of the beauty of togetherness.

How many seats are you expecting to win in Seemandhra? Will your party contest in Telangana too?

More than winning or losing, I am bothered about keeping the State united. I am not looking at my future. The future is in the hands of youngsters. Yes, we will contest from a majority seats in Assembly and Lok Sabha from Seemandhra. We will also put up candidates in Telangana.

Are you going to contest as an MP or stick to the State Assembly? If so, from where?

My family has been in the electoral fray since 1962 and winning elections from Piler constituency. It’s too early to say on my candidature. We will have a mix of experienced hands as well as newcomers in the poll arena.

Are you going to have any alliances with like-minded parties? Are you open to Chandrababu Naidu’s offer of working together?

The CPI(M) has always believed in unity of the State and we don’t mind taking their help. Division of a State should be for the welfare of the people and Mr. Naidu has supported a wrong cause. So, the question of supporting him doesn’t arise.

Is it true that some of the leaders like Sailajanath, Saipratap and Pithani Satyanarayana have left your party? Why are they miffed with you?

Mr. Satyanarayana met me recently and everything has been sorted out. I am not unduly worried about leaders.

Do you see yourself as the next Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh?

I am not aspiring for any post. I gave up the CM’s post after the pride of Telugus was hit.