With voting for the Telangana elections just over a month away, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi has made regional pride the centrepiece of its campaign amid attacks of corruption and dynastic politics from the BJP and the Congress. The party’s working president, KT Rama Rao, who had said Andhra landlords were the villains during the last elections, has trained his guns on the ghulams (servants) of Gujarat and the Delhi durbar (courtiers) this time around.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV on Friday, Mr Rao also rubbished allegations from both the BJP and the Congress of his party siding with the other and said the BRS is nobody’s B-team, but Telangana’s A-team.
“The entire statehood movement of Telangana was predicated on two things – self-respect and pride. The Prime Minister comes to Hyderabad and says one Gujarati (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel) relieved you from the clutches of the Nizam and another Gujarati (PM Narendra Modi) will relieve you from KCR (Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s) dictatorial rule,” Mr Rao, who is also the son of KCR, said.
“We also have to invoke pride and we also have to remind people that the ghulams of Gujarat here in Telangana – the BJP folks – have not done much in the past nine-and-a-half years and we have to speak about their track record as well. Same is the case with the Delhi durbar. Rahul baba comes here and starts saying things like family rule and dynasty, which probably has to be the joke of the millennium,” he added.
Mr Rao, who is a minister and holds the information technology portfolio, among others, said people from Gujarat and Delhi don’t do their homework before coming to Telangana and he and his party have to remind them from time to time that the Telangana statehood agitation was a matter of great self-respect. “One of the most important tenets of that movement was pride, and you cannot come and insult us like that,” he said.
Asked about election-related seizures in Telangana touching Rs 243 crore in just ten days, Mr Rao blamed the Congress and said that money had been seized from one of its former corporators in Bengaluru. When it was pointed out that the seizure was in Karnataka, he said a lot of people have common businesses in Karnataka and Telangana.
“A few builders have told me that the Karnataka government has started charging an extra election tax – Rs 500 per square foot – and they are telling the builders directly that the money is being used for supporting and funding the Congress party in Telangana elections. That is where the money is being caught, the root,” he alleged.
To a question on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that KCR had bankrolled the Karnataka Congress campaign and the Congress is now returning the favour, Mr Rao said, “The PM is very good at scripting these brilliant narratives and brilliant stories. Unfortunately, none of them see the light of the day. He is the same man who promised bullet trains by 2022, five-trillion dollar economy by 2022 , farmer income doubling by 2022. I am not even going to refer to the Rs 15-lakh jumla.”
“So the fact is that no matter what the PM or Rahul Gandhi would like to believe, we are neither the B-team of the Congress nor the BJP, we are the A-team of the people of Telangana and we will continue to remain steadfastly neutral and equidistant from both the Congress and the BJP. This bipolar situation that they want to create, that this country has to lean either on the BJP or Congress, is not something that we subscribe to. We certainly don’t endorse their view or ideology,” he asserted.
The BRS, earlier known as the Telanagana Rashtra Samithi, has ruled in Telangana since the state was formed in 2014. The Assembly election will be held on November 30 and counting will be held on December 3.