'They're Not Just Against Me But Also the Centre': KCR's Daughter Faces 176 Farmers at the Ballot
The farmers have been protesting for over two months now demanding a higher minimum support price (MSP) for turmeric and sorghum, the two most cultivated crops in the region.
File of TRS MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha.
Hyerabad: The only constituency to go for ballot paper polls in the first phase is Nizamabad, a district in Telangana.
This is also the seat represented by TRS MP and chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has re-nominated her for the seat for the upcoming polls.
At the moment, Kavitha is in the fray with about 176 farmers who have filed their nominations against her as a protest, pushing the Election Commission to opt for ballot papers.
These farmers have been protesting for over two months now demanding a higher minimum support price (MSP) for turmeric and sorghum, the two most cultivated crops in the region.
However, that doesn’t deter her campaign. “Their protest is not just against me but against the Centre. In fact, my nomination, along with my farmers, is also a protest against the Centre,” Kavitha tells News18.
Edited excerpts from the interview
Q: The big issue right now for you is the nominations of farmers in your constituency. They’re protesting against you. What do you have to say to them?
A: I’ve written to the Prime Minister many times for setting up a national turmeric board. I have written to chief ministers of other states as well. This issue does not just pertain to my constituency. It is there across the nation and needs national-level attention. The central government never took it as a priority. Promises have been made and but never met. Rahul Gandhi has recently taken note of it. The BJP, too, has now finally taken note (of the issue) and promised to the work on it.
Today, the nominations that have been filed are a mark of protest against the national parties. They are a protest by farmers to bring this issue to the national narrative. We need a permanent solution and that is why there are so many nominations. From Nizamabad, along with my farmers, my nomination is also a protest against the Centre.
Q: The TRS has always maintained its anti-BJP and anti-Congress stand. But these are the two major national parties that have an edge. So, after 2019, will the TRS not be with the NDA or ‘Mahagatbandhan’?
A: The BJP is not getting as much as it is aiming for and the Congress is trying to catch up. There is a huge gap when it comes to forming the government. That is where regional parties like the TRS will play a key role. We do not want to be a B-team of anyone. We want to make sure the regional parties are at the forefront as core group. We will make sure in Telangana, not one seat goes to either the BJP or Congress.
Q: A lot of regional parties are with Mahagatbandhan where Chandrababu Naidu is a moving force. What does the TRS have in mind if it wants to play a ‘crucial’ role in a regional parties’ front?
A: Naidu’s role in the Mahagatbandhan is purely political. He was with the BJP lfor ast few years and now, he decided to be with the Congress. The TRS is saying neither the Congress nor the BJP and a few regional parties believe the same. After the polls, you will see polarisation of these regional parties in a different way. Whoever is with the Congress or BJP may shift sides after the results are announced.
The Congress will lose badly in south India for joining hands with Naidu. The BJP too will not gain anything in the region.
Q: BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav have sidelined the Congress. What is equation of Rao with them now? Are we likely to see them work together?
A: We had met Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav before, and yes, there could be an understanding. These are emerging new possibilities which will be clear after results. We are making sure the BJP gets as few seats as possible. We have tied up with a few regional leaders to make sure the BJP does not gain anything.
Q: Naidu has been saying the TRS and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy are hatching conspiracies against him ahead of the elections. He had said that during the data theft row and after the recent transfers of top officers. How would you respond to that?
A: Naidu is trying to gain brownie points and expecting a reaction from KCR. That is not going to happen. We also want the people of Andhra to prosper. I would appeal to people to select a leader who will work for development and not fall for Naidu’s claims which are meant only to gain votes.
Q: There is a lot of Andhra vs Telangana sentiment being built up by leaders such as Naidu and Pawan Kalyan. People have been reacting on social media about it. What do you think about this?
A: We’ve never distinguished between the people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Even after bifurication, we took good care of Andhra people here. Now, political leaders in Andhra are raising such issues to create insecurities. I will only say Telangana is home to people of 28 other states.
Q: We’ve seen close to 10 MLAs move from the Congress to TRS. You were also talking about wiping out the Congress and BJP from here. Why were there so many defections?
A: We are no one to wipe out any party. People have wiped out the Congress from Telangana. The party has not been a constructive opposition and has not played any role in highlighting any issue. It did not get a mandate here (assembly election). That will follow in Centre also. Because, tell me, what is that one issue that Rahul Gandhi has been able to highlight, which is a people’s issue. He is constantly busy highlighting the failure of current regime. Only that will not work. A leader needs to have vision. Same is the case with the party’s state leaders.
People have realized regional parties are better. They understand the states well and fight with the Centre for their rights. Regional parties do not go with one-rule-fits-all policy, which these national parties do.
Q: But the Congress is alleging that KCR used muscle and money power and calls it anti-democratic.
A: Few of our party leaders joined the Congress before Telangana elections. The party leadership has to answer if and how much it paid them? These kinds of shifts are bound to happen during political polarisations. The Congress leaders themselves believed that there was no future in their party. It is the Congress’ failure that it could not give a vision to its leaders and people of the state.
Q: Though number-wise it may not be possible, there are talks that KCR’s next focus is the PM’s seat?
A: We are not here for any position. Our end goal is not any position, but Telangana being a development model for other states. When we fought for Telangana also, becoming the chief minister was a byproduct but that was not the goal. We’ve presented our development agenda to other leaders and they have liked it.
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