Bold in his beliefs, blasty about the BJP, angry about communal politics and confident of retaining Telangana, the eloquent IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao shares his ideas on new age politics for the country, in a chat with The Hindu team during his visit to the newspaper office here.
Why is merger of Hyderabad into Indian Union not a Liberation Day and why it is an Integration Day?
If September 17 is a Liberation Day why do we celebrate August 15 as an Independence Day? Can we call that the Liberation Day from the British under whom we suffered for more than 200 years? Why is the Prime Minister not criticising the British from the Red Fort on how they treated us, tormented us and how we should not have trade relations with them.
Why this selective treatment? Is it because Hyderabad had a Muslim ruler and it suits BJP’s divisive narrative? The Britishers were equally oppressive. Why did Home Minister Amit Shah did not speak about them during his visit to Hyderabad on September 17. Why isn’t Liberation Day not being celebrated in Junagarh in Gujarat? A tyrant is a tyrant irrespective of his religious beliefs. The TRS believes September 17 is a national integration day as Hyderabad merged into Indian Union.
Do you believe the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI are being used as weapons to target political opponents?
In the last eight years how many BJP chief ministers, MLAs or ministers were questioned by any one of these? Even when a Sri Lankan official makes a direct allegation that PM Modi arm twisted them to give a contract to Adani there is no response.
With the richest political party ruling at the Centre and willing to buy out MLAs and voters how are you prepared to face it?
Political parties fool themselves into believing that money can win elections. In a neutral environment, it might affect the swing. In the four elections I fought in Sircilla I have not spent money or liquor. I am willing to lose the election but not distribute money.
On the BJP’s brutal money power, I can say the country has seen similar situations earlier. Leaders like Indira Gandhi who looked formidable and invincible also saw the reverses and it will happen with this dispensation as well. Despite being so rich and powerful the BJP’s best performance is securing 37% votes only. The next elections are going to be different and hopefully what we plan also falls in place.
Do you support freebies?
When ₹12 lakh crore is written off for corporates it is called an incentive while ₹two lakh crore spent on the vulnerable is considered as freebies. The rich and the middle class are safe because the welfare schemes for the poor ensure there is no civil strife and the restlessness of the poor doesn’t come to the fore. It is the government’s responsibility to maintain that social balance.
KCR is going national. Do you see a bigger role for yourself?
We won in 2014 and 2018 with the same team. We have declared KCR as our CM candidate. Let the BJP and Congress announce their CM candidates and let the people decide. We have done our best and if people believe in us they will bring us back.
The Centre -State relations seem to be shaky with your party accusing the Centre of usurping State’s powers?
Dr. Ambedkar described India as a Union of States and not a unitary state but our Prime Minister Narendra Modi seem to be favouring Presidential democracy the way he wants to conquer the States. Only stronger States can make a stronger country and not contrary to the present government’s belief. We are very clear that given all its diversity and heterogeneity India can only survive if we truly respect each other.
If you look at the Constitution it says two governments and nowhere it says the State government is subservient to the Union government. As N.T. Rama Rao famously said ‘Union is a Myth’ as it has no specific geography but it’s an amalgamation of States.
State is being denied funds through various regulations and limitations?
Government of India is imposing economic sanctions like on an enemy country to punish the States through unnecessary regulations instead of supporting the States for projects. They want to conquer you by killing you.
Despite disastrous demonetization, COVID and an inimical Union government, Telangana grew by 15% CAGR. The per capita income has risen by 130% from ₹1,24,000 to ₹2,78,000 and the GSDP grew from ₹5.6 crore to ₹11.55 crore.
Only 46 paisa comes back from every rupee contribution from Telangana to the country. We are happy to contribute 56 paise to the nation. But New Delhi leaders always come and say they are the givers. Any leader and State with self-respect can’t put up with this.
K.T. Rama Rao interacting with The Hindu team
What about the debts in the State?
Our debts are in productive sectors like Irrigation and Power. We raised ₹80,000 crore loans and put them into power. Now we supply 24-hours power with Telangana being the highest in the country in per capita power consumption. Because of power and irrigation agriculture expanded by 119% and its contribution from 16% to 21% to the SDGP. Telangana is not a debt-ridden State.
But the BJP government wants to portray Telangana in a negative image claiming the fiscal management is bad. TS has not crossed the FRBM limits while India under BJP crossed it long back. The fiscal deficit of TS is 3.7% while it is 6.7% of India.
Before Narendra Modi, there were 14 Prime Ministers whose collective debt was ₹56 lakh crore. Now it is ₹1.56 lakh crore with Modi government raising ₹1 lakh crore debt.