In an interview to The Quint on the campaign trail, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, Telangana Rashtra Samithi MP from Nizamabad and Telangana CM KCR’s daughter, answers the question on everyone's mind: Will the TRS form a post-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party?
Kavitha is seeking re-election from Nizamabad, a constituency that has made headlines because more than 170 farmers are contesting from the same seat, in protest against unfulfilled promises made to them.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
Is TRS Closer to BJP or Congress?
The Quint: Who do you think is going to be the next PM of India?
Kavitha: Well, I certainly hope the next PM is not from BJP or Congress. We are trying very hard to make sure neither the BJP nor the Congress comes to power (at the Centre). We believe that if India is free of both these so-called national parties, then India can progress. These two parties were given ample chance and they did not make any difference to the progress of the nation. So if a chance is given to a neutral platform like a federal front where various regional parties can come together to form an alliance and to form the government, this is what we believe in and we're working hard for it.
The Quint: Then why is TRS not part of the alliance involving parties like SP, BSP, TMC, RLD?
Kavitha: Because they did ultimately call the Congress onto their dais and we did not want to share the dais with the Congress party.
What If Modi Needs TRS Help to Touch 272?
The Quint: So then, the TRS' federal front just comprises TRS and YSRC? Isn't that a weak front?
Kavitha: Well, why do you think we are only two parties? There are many more parties, some overtly and some covertly. But this arrangement will only become clear once the election results come out, so there could be drastic changes after the polls, not right now.
The Quint: KCR is considered to be close to Modi – if NDA needs TRS support to reach the magic figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha, will you help the BJP?
Kavitha: (smiles) We are going into a battle – I don't even want to think about ifs and buts. We want to make sure that we don't lose this battle.
‘Modi Govt Was Too Much Publicity, Very Less Delivery’
The Quint: How do you rate the five years of the Modi government?
Kavitha: Well, it was too much publicity and very less delivery is what I can say. Particularly, the state of Telangana has gained nothing out of BJP rule. They themselves did not come out to solve the issues related to the division of the state, or to give a supporting hand to the new state. Forget all that, the Modi government did not even congratulate the people of Telangana on the formation of their state in their first presidential address. If you want me to rate their performance, I would say, from the perspective of people of Telangana, it's a failure.
What's the Equation With Jagan Mohan Reddy?
The Quint: What is the equation between TRS and Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSRC? Is TRS getting involved in Andhra politics?
Kavitha: Well, we have contacted Jagan Mohan Reddy for the arrangement in a federal front, but that does not mean we will involve ourselves in Andhra politics. It is only about the central government that we have spoken with him.
The Quint: Where does TRS stand on Andhra's demands for special category status?
Kavitha: The prime minister (Manmohan Singh) had promised special category status on the floor of the House, so the central government better give it to Andhra. There's no denying it, or having two opinions about it.
Over 170 Farmers Contesting Against Kavitha
The Quint: Over 170 farmers are contesting the Lok Sabha election in Nizamabad to protest against TRS for not fulfilling poll promises such as an MSP for turmeric and red jowar as well as the setting up of a turmeric board. Is this not a failure of TRS and Kavitha?
Kavitha: No, the anger is not at me. The anger is on the central government. Our farmers very well know that whatever they are fighting for is under the gambit of the central government. The Centre has to decide the MSP for turmeric, decide on the formation of the National Turmeric Board, decide the MSP for red jowar crop. Because it's poll time back here in Telangana, both BJP and Congress are now promising Turmeric Board, but I was the one who was fighting for Turmeric Board for the last five years, so my farmers know that. So, these nominations filed in Nizamabad are not against me, they are against the central government.
TRS’ Confidence and KCR’s National Ambitions
The Quint: The TRS did sweep the Assembly elections in Telangana towards the end of 2018. But how confident is the party of a good show in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls?
Kavitha: What we have been able to achieve in Telangana in the last five years, we believe this country has not been able to do in the last 70 years. We are very confident we will win all the 16 seats. In fact, Telangana has 17. Of course, one our ally Asaduddin Owaisi will win, the other 16 will be won by our party.
The Quint: In aiming to build a federal front, is KCR nursing PM ambitions?
Kavitha: Well, my father is very much a citizen of this country, and he can dream about changing or setting the agenda for this nation. He has a lot of great ideas for the country.
Did Modi Follow KCR’s Lead on Scheme for Farmers?
The Quint: Speaking of ideas, KCR's Rythu Bandhu scheme and PM's Kisan Samman Yojana have drawn a lot of comparisons. Did Modi follow KCR's lead?
Kavitha: Of course, it was inspired by our scheme, but it is a lighter version of our scheme. We give a lot more money to every acre of the farmer than what the Modi government today proposes (sic).
Let me tell you one more thing. This scheme announced by the prime minister for the farmers is just a poll plank. Before announcing the Rythu Bandhu scheme, we took about a year to clean the land records. After the land records purging was done, then we announced the scheme. But the scheme that the PM has announced – except in Telangana, it cannot be implemented (effectively) anywhere else. Because land record purging and digitisation has not been done in many states. So, to whom are you going to give this scheme? Who will be the true beneficiaries of this scheme? These are the fundamental questions that the BJP should answer to the nation.
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