In what can be seen as Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s agenda to have a greater say in national politics, his daughter and Telangana Rashtra Samiti MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha Rao on May 22 asserted that the federal front, which KCR has been advocating for, will be a reality. The usually reticent MP was speaking in an interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps in New Delhi, on a variety of issues including the struggles of the state, women’s reservation, and TRS’ political opponents, Congress and BJP.
On the federal front, Kavitha said “People thought Telangana would not be a reality, but after 14 years, it became a state. The idea and agenda that KCR is talking about is only the changes he has been able to bring about in Telangana in four years. If a country hasn’t been able to transform for 70 years, then there is something wrong with the political ideology of this country. That needs to change. Only BJP and Congress have ruled this country. People should think and realise that not change but transformation is required. Change in this nation has only been incidental or incremental. It was never a revolutionary change,” said Kavitha.
Kavitha said that the Modi government has lost an momentous mandate that was given to them. “The Modi government could have made changes, but they haven’t done so. They had grand plans, but the grandness should also be seen on the ground. They spoke about ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’, but no one knows what is happening in the states. Their promotion is good, nothing else. They brought about demonetisation, but it only disrupted the economy and now there is more money in the markets than in the banks. Petrol and diesel prices also need to be checked by the Central government. If left uncontrolled, we will see severe price rise in all quarters,” asserted Kavitha.
TRS MP K Kavitha: “If they table [Women’s Reservation Bill], we will support it”
KCR has already suggested that this country now needs an alternative political platform, which is non-BJP and non-Congress. “And as a part of that grouping of alternative political platform, the Telangana Chief Minister has met various leaders, including Mamata Banerjee of TMC, MK Stalin of DMK, Akhilesh Yadav of SP and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. KCR is meeting all like-minded parties to set an agenda,” said Kavitha.
When there is a stronger regional party, both the national parties feel threatened, believes Kavitha, who considers Congress as a distant Opposition in Telanagana. “BJP is not even an Opposition in Telangana,” quipped Kavitha.
When asked about her party’s reported closeness to BJP, she said Congress would call them a BJP agent and BJP would call them a Congress agent. “But, we are not close or far away from either party. Even in Parliament, whenever there was a requirement, where it was in the interest of the nation, TRS has supported the ruling government as we believed it would help the nation. We will have a working relationship with whichever party is in the Centre. The government has no colour, that is what we believe,” said Kavitha, going on to add that because Telangana is a new state, it was important to have a working relationship with the Central government. Kavitha contended that they had a working relationship with only the Centre, not BJP as a party.
Nationalism and cow politics has been in the forefront for BJP, but Kavitha maintains that for her, KCR and TRS, nationalism means to love the nation and ensure the nation progresses. “It’s none of my business to enter people’s home to find out what they eat or to which god they pray to. Governments have limitations and they should only facilitate people to live a good life. Governments should be like air; it should not be seen, only felt. But, that none of us do. We certainly do not want to enter people’s homes or their places of worship,” advocated Kavitha.
TRS MP K Kavitha: “Congress is a distant Opposition in Telangana. BJP is not even an Opposition in Telangana”
Talking about the time Telangana state was formed in 2014, Kavitha said they had a deficit budget, less power and apprehensions about developing the state. “But, the state formed and we took off,” remarked Kavita. In the very first year, Kavitha concedes that they had teething issues, as was likely. “Now we are doing much better. Telangana is now showing the path to many other senior-most states. We would like to call ourselves the youngest state in the country. We are doing exceedingly well in a number of states. We rank first in ease of doing business,” added Kavitha.
One of the core issues in India and Telangana is drinking water. “That was one of the first issues we addressed as a young state. The cost of the project titled Mission Bhagiratha is ₹43,791 crore. The mission is to ensure piped safe drinking water reaches all the one crore households in Telangana. The project is nearing completion and by December every household in Telangana would have safe drinking water,” says Kavitha. Despite Niti Aayog recommending this project to the Central government, not a ‘penny reached the state’. This was completely funded by the state government.
One of the main reasons why the demand for Telangana cropped up was due to lack of irrigation water. Today, at least 58% of farmers depend on tube wells for irrigation. “The demand was for irrigation water. When Telangana became a reality, the Chief Minister has ensured action was taken for this. We designed two major projects—in northern Telangana, the ₹80,000 crore Kaleeshwaram project has been designed and the water will now reach them, hopefully, by September-October and the₹35,000crore Palamuru project to address South Telanagana’s water woes is also progressing.
TRS MP K Kavitha: “It’s none of my business to enter people’s home to find out what they eat or to which god they pray to. Governments have limitations and they should only facilitate people to live a good life. Governments should be like air; it should not be seen, only felt”
When asked about why TRS didn’t join the ministers from south India who were opposing the 15th Finance Commission terms, Kavitha said TRS, as a party does not believe in north-south divide. “When there is a state which is performing, the central government policies cannot be taxing them. They cannot be holding them back. When the 15th Finance Commission plans were circulated, our finance minister had expressed his concerns, but not as a part of the southern grouping. It is not in our DNA to believe that there is a division within India. It is about performing states vs non-performing states. We have expressed our concerns to the 15th Finance Commission,” said Kavitha.
One of BJP’s poll promises was 33% reservation for women in the Parliament, but “they haven’t introduced it in either houses”. “If they table it, we will support it. We do not want certain seats to be reserved for women, we only want that there should be 33% reservation for women, so that women can contest from any constituency. More importantly, it is the mindset of men that has to change. Even men in power should fight for women,” pointed out Kavitha.