It was the statehood dream that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) was founded on, a single-point agenda that stands fulfilled today. K.T. Rama Rao, party MLA and son of TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhara Rao, is spending a lot of time in Delhi these days. When not making rounds of TV studios to participate in noisy debates, KTR, as he is popularly known, is in hectic confabulations with the Congress. He shares his future outlook for the new state and his party.
Will TRS merge with the Congress?
We are still allowing it all to sink in. One hurdle after the other has been overcome. Mission impossible (Telangana statehood) was made possible because of the efforts of one man, KCR. Yes, we are in talks with the Congress. But there’s no formal proposal yet as to how we will work electorally. Our party cadre is against a merger as they feel that Telangana needs a regional party which would represent its interests better. Besides, nationwide, one can see that it is an era of regional parties. So we’ll have to wait and see.
Is this the Telangana you hoped for, the 10-year joint capital clause, law and order and municipal administration coming under the governor, among other things?
The UPA government cut it very close. So we had to choose between getting the bill passed or tweaking it to our own comfort. We are happy that most of what we wanted is there in this bill: mainly, Telangana with 10 districts and Hyderabad as capital. And Hyderabad’s revenue will accrue to Telangana. There should obviously be a financial package for Seemandhra.
The TRS has led a hate campaign against Seemandhra people earlier…
See, the remarks made by KCR—Andhrawaale bhaago, Telanganawaale jaago—at an Udyoga garjana meeting have to be seen in context. At that time, there was talk of Hyderabad being made a free zone in terms of employment. There was huge consternation about 1 lakh Seemandhra employees illegally stationed in Hyderabad. The T-movement was at its peak. My father was involved in a fight against many, including the vernacular media, which painted him as a divisive figure. If the TRS gets a chance to govern, we’ll certainly not focus on petty issues; instead we want progressive governance.
Branded as “settlers” by your party, how secure do you think they will feel in Hyderabad?
Let me make this clear. Anybody who’s made Hyderabad their home should feel secure and will be protected. There is no question of hounding anyone out. Hyderabad has already lost a lot of sheen as a brand because of the uncertainty. It is imperative that Hyderabad’s brand image is enhanced. We are not here to settle scores. In fact, the TRS has asked its cadre to be restrained in its victory celebrations too because that is the gracious thing to do. In 1969, the predominant slogan was “Andhras, go back”. The TRS believes statehood is a geographic division and not of people.
The TRS has no presence in Hyderabad or the adjoining Ranga Reddy district….
We’re aware of that. Since it’s a changed scenario, we’re looking at gaining a few seats in the coming elections.