Mocking the Congress for betraying the people of Telangana, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC K Kavitha dubs the grand old party’s six guarantees for the state a gimmick owing to its ‘poor track record’.
In a freewheeling chat with News18, Kavitha points out how women’s reservation bill will bring about a mindset change in all parties including within the BRS which has been drawing flak for giving tickets to only seven women in the upcoming assembly polls.
On BRS’s game plan for the 2024 General Elections, she also throws light on new possibilities post the new Parliament session as the party remains firm in its position of staying away from both the NDA and the opposition-led I.N.D.I.A, which includes the Congress.
Q: Congress has unveiled its six guarantees for Telangana. Your first reaction?
A: People of Telangana do understand that Congress never stands by their word. They first promised to form Telangana in 2004, but delayed it by a decade as a result many of our children lost their lives. In 1969, we asked for it but they shot 350 of our children. Telangana people have had bad experiences with Congress. They have time and again betrayed the people of Telangana. Their dream doesn’t include the prosperity of Telangana people. They haven’t been able to pull off their guarantees in other states. Whatever the Congress promises, they won’t be able to deliver upon it.
Q: It has also reignited the debate on freebie culture. Though Congress’s guarantees are a counter to a slew of welfare schemes that have been launched by chief minister KCR?
A: Welfare schemes launched by KCR are top class across the nation. We have created wealth and distributed it as well. We have not left the core issues. We have ensured there is 24-hour power supply for farmers, industrialists and households. We made sure there is irrigation, health infrastructure for all. We support farmers, beedi workers, and fishermen. We believe in upskilling. We give free fish seeds to fishermen, and not teach them how to fish. KCR’s ideas are different from freebie culture, his ideas are to recharge the rural economy. We are No. 1 in per capita income, much higher than the national average. We work for the industrial growth and for rural development. There is a balance in what we do.
Q. Rahul Gandhi has called the BRS as BJP Rishtedar Samithi.
A: Rahul must re-check and read his script before he comes to Telangana. He says we supported BJP’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates. We didn’t. Half of our leaders are being hounded by central agencies, unlike the national herald case of Rahul and Sonia ji being put on the backburner. The true ‘rishtedar’ of BJP is Rahul Gandhi. His ignorance shines everywhere especially in his speech. He says in a project of 80,000 crore, we committed corruption of 1 lakh crore. Now, you please do the math, how is that even possible? He is referring to a project that irrigates 13 districts of Telangana, the result of which we are number 1 in paddy production today. Where is the corruption, where is the proof? Congress must stop dreaming. People of Telangana will reject them.
Q. Will you be fighting the Lok Sabha polls alone since you are neither with NDA nor INDIA?
A: Let’s wait until September 22, and then we will take a call on whom to go with and not. We will continue to work for people of Telangana. We will come back to power for the third time as well.
Q. Backdoor talks are underway with other parties as well? Are you open to an alliance with other parties as long as the Congress isn’t part of it?
A: We have been speaking to many parties since 2018. When the situation is right, when there is a necessity to step forward and make a serious participation, we will. We have become BRS from TRS to work for the nation and work for the people’s agenda. We come from the grassroots, we understand people better and how we transformed Telangana in nine years, this model can work for the rest of the country as well. ‘Ab ki baar kisan sarkar’.
Q. There is consensus building up for women’s reservation bill, and if all goes well, it may see the light of the day this special session. Would you claim credit for it as you have been championing this cause?
A: Why should I, whoever works hard, automatically gets the credit. It’s the by-product but the end result is more important. If the bill is passed in this session, then it’s the best thing to happen for the women of this country. There so much crime, backwardness, struggles that women don’t even talk about. If there are more women, then more such issues will be brought to the fore. Only in the recent few years that people have started talking about periods and sanitary pads. There is overall broadmindedness being developed but will it get converted into policy-making? how do we ensure policies are made around vulnerable women? For that to happen, more women must come to Parliament. It will work for all whole country.
Q. The allegation against your party is that you don’t walk the talk. You have given tickets to only seven women, there are just two women ministers in the CM’s cabinet.
A: It’s the harsh reality. No political party has given more seats than what BRS has given, either in Assembly or Parliament. The bill is the only way to remove resistance including for BRS. There is no shame in admitting that BRS is one of those patriarchal parties.
Q. Perhaps, can we expect more women candidates from the BRS if the bill gets passed?
A: If it comes then, that is what every party has to do.
Q. Congress has triggered a credit war saying women’s reservation bill has been their brainchild and that there were the ones to pass it through the Rajya Sabha during the UPA regime?
A: They are lying again because it’s not their brainchild but that of HD Deve Gowda. In 1996, for the first time, he had introduced the women’s reservation bill. They claim credit for anything and everything they didn’t do. They forgot about the women’s reservation bill in the last 16 years and didn’t even mention it in their last manifesto. Now, they come up and say it was their brainchild. Since KCR wrote to the prime minister about the bill, under pressure, the CWC had to pass a resolution here in Hyderabad, otherwise they wouldn’t have even bothered to do that. Even when Sonia ji wrote to the PM, she mentioned nine issues and women’s reservation bill wasn’t one of them. This issue is not even in their vicinity but when other political parties push for it, they were forced to take that resolution.
Q. On the Razakar’s film controversy, is your party demanding a ban?
A: We haven’t yet spoken to the censor board yet. Telangana culture is known for its ‘Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb’ and KCR is a strong advocate of that. In the last 10 years, despite whatever is happening across the nation, we did everything in our strength to keep the communal harmony intact, not even a single incident of communal violence has happened in Telangana. They may release 100 Razakar films, we will make sure communal harmony isn’t disturbed. These are the tricks of BJP. They will make films on Kashmir, Razakars when the election season is on, but it won’t make any difference in the state.
Q. So, will you write to the censor board?
A: I believe our party is looking into the matter, we will certainly ask the censor board to have a relook and if need be, we will take harsh steps.
Q: PM Narendra Modi made an interesting comment saying entire bifurcation was done in an unjust manner….”Khoon ki Nadiyan”(bloodbath on the streets) was what he referred to, implying that bifurcation of Telangana and AP left both the states with a lot of bitterness.
A: Really, unfortunate that the PM has time and again made statements on Telangana like this. Telangana statehood is a very emotional issue for us and we all rejoiced when it was formed because it was a 60 years of struggle for us. Loss was also more in Telangana as many children committed suicide. We are now thriving as a state. Whatever the PM said is quite unfortunate.