‘The march is KCR’s last act of desperation’

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Opposition parties led by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) plan to hold a million-man march in Hyderabad on 10 March. Are you worried?
Not at all. I don’t think that the TRS can really pull it off. In my view, this is K Chandrashekhar Rao’s last desperate act. That’s because Telangana belongs to the people and not to an individual.

Has the Congress lost support due to its non-committal position on the Telangana issue?
A little bit of the Congress position has been lost in translation. We didn’t seem to have clarity on what we want and what we don’t want. Somehow we left things to unravel and there was very little coordination. The popular reactions that you actually see in Andhra Pradesh are compulsions of local realities. But the alarming scenario being projected by the TRS also doesn’t exist. That’s a mirage.

In the past, the TRS had alleged that you are anti-Telangana. Your house in Khammam was even ransacked by alleged TRS activists. Do you have a clear stand on this issue?
I don’t know how they have arrived at those conclusions. I have always said that I’m the daughter of Telangana. Khammam, which I represented in the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha, is in the region proposed for Telangana. They had left a letter threatening to chop people like me to pieces. So be it. I’m saying if that’s what they think will help them achieve Telangana, I’m willing to die for it. But I’m not going to run scared.

Still, the resentment stems from the perception that the Congress is allowing this issue to fester despite being in power both at the Centre and the state.
The situation is like that. Telangana is not an issue in which you can take the bull by its horns. But quite frankly we (the Congress) could have done much better in handling the aspirations of people. Somewhere there seems to be a lack of political will. Then, of course, you have had every political opportunist jumping into the fray to stir the muddy waters, complicating matters even further.

What will the Congress gain by delaying a solution? It’s been over a year since the home minister made that promise.
First of all, we have to understand that the Congress is not a regional party that has the luxury of choosing an issue and sitting on it. Whatever we do will have repercussions and ramifications across the country. Once we take a step, we have to make sure that it is the right one. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have the instruments that will propel us towards that kind of clarity.

What is your evaluation of the political arithmetic after Jagan Mohan Reddy launched his own party. What impact will he have in the next election?
I don’t know. I’m not a soothsayer who can look into a crystal ball and predict what will happen in three years’ time. He may play spoilsport in certain places but talks of a sweep and his coming to power are pure fantasy.

Also, the impact of Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) was not that great as a separate entity. Now that it has merged with the Congress, what kind of role will it play?
The PRP’s performance may not have been great but its entry in the electoral arena did eat into our vote margins and that hurt us. Chiranjeevi’s party got 18 out of 294 seats in the 2009 Andhra Pradesh Assembly election compared to 156 for the Congress. So in a way the merger will consolidate our vote. The PRP got 16.2 percent of the vote share, while the Congress got 36.6 percent share.