People in Andhra Pradesh who fought for and against bifurcation of the State have now shifted their focus to development. They now look to him for ushering in development, claims NARA CHANDRABABU NAIDU, leader of the Telugu Desam Party and former Chief Minister, in an interview to K. Srinivas Reddy.
How will Telugu Desam and BJP fare in the forthcoming elections? What are the issues you are focussing on in your campaign?
The situation is very positive for us. People are concerned about corruption and development. If we don’t eradicate corruption now, country will suffer. It has suffered already. Corruption and development are the two planks for us. A weak leadership in Congress led to thriving of corrupt politicians. There is no development and no governance in the country. People are welcoming the TDP-BJP combine as they feel good leadership is necessary for ensuring development.
Do you mean people see Modi as a good leader?
At the national level, Modi is the good leader. In Andhra Pradesh, I initiated many developmental works. Modi began his work in Gujarat in 2002, but I started much earlier in 1995-96. Immediately after economic reforms, I started second generation reforms in Andhra Pradesh. I have promoted and marketed India at a global level. That is my track record.
But you were not elected in 2004 and 2009. Why?
[There are] so many factors. Drought was one of them. In fact, I was ahead of times in conceptualising development and initiating reforms processes. I wanted to do everything at a time. There were some problems. But you can see the results of my efforts today. Hyderabad is the best city now. Because of my efforts there is a dynamic economy in Andhra Pradesh now. That’s why people equate me with development. They believe only I can usher in development.
In that case, how many seats would you and BJP win?
In Seemandhra, it’s going to be a landslide victory. In Telangana, there is every possibility of surprise results. The position of Congress is weakening day by day.
There is a perception that voters would prefer NDA in Lok Sabha, but might vote for other parties in Assembly polls…
There is a Modi wave indeed. There is a positive vote for Chandrababu Naidu. This is a deadly combination, both in Telangana and Rayalaseema. Hence, there won’t be a split in voting.
There are many glitches in TDP-BJP alliance. BJP says you are too demanding…
There are issues and they will be sorted out. Our effort is to maximise winning chances of all the candidates. If weak candidates are fielded, our rivals could spend money and ensure defeat. From today, there would only be NDA candidates not BJP or TDP candidates. That’s the spirit.
What’s your justification for an alliance with BJP? You went on record saying you would never join hands with them earlier.
In the last one decade, Congress has bungled everything. Corruption ruled the roost with weak leadership. No policy decisions were taken. There was failure everywhere. Different scams to the tune of Rs. 15 lakh crore surfaced. Rupee value had fallen. Prices of essential commodities rose sharply. Inflation skyrocketed. Growth was negative. Power sector almost collapsed. Industries became sick. There was leadership crisis in Congress. The biggest obstacle for development of country is Congress. Now is the time to reintroduce development. That’s why I joined NDA.
You are known to be a reforms man. Now you are promising doles to voters. How can you justify this?
Why did I create this wealth in the State? For whom did I bring these changes? The benefits are meant for the needy people, the downtrodden and those below the poverty line. I had a long-term vision. Nowhere in the world except in China such development models worked. China pursues long-term policies and has a stable government and no elections. But in India, we have elections every five years. If only I had achieved the perfect balance between reforms and welfare measures, it would have been different. As results of reforms were felt, there was a change of government.
Your two-eye theory on bifurcation of State did not seem to work?
I disagree with you. It was like a family elder watching two sons separate. It was sensitive. I cannot take any side. There was strong sentiment in Telangana. If it was to be respected, they had to convince people in Seemandhra. But they used it as an election gimmick and to hit me. But Congress has fallen into the ditch it has dug itself. People in Telangana are happy, but they are worried about employment. In Seemandhra, they are hurt and they look to me to steer the State on the path of development.