Union Minister and BJP Telangana president G. Kishan Reddy.
| Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G
Telangana BJP president and Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and Development of Northeast Region G. Kishan Reddy has been on the hot seat for the Assembly elections after his predecessor and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar was ‘elevated’ as national general secretary. In this exclusive interview, he explains how he is trying to ensure that a ‘double engine’ government is formed here. Excerpts:
We are at the fag-end of the campaign, what is the assessment on the ground?
People of Telangana are in favour of the BJP. The Backward Classes and Dalits are never vocal in their choices and because of the support and love across the board, there is a silent revolution. Youth are simmering with anger over lack of jobs, and no section of society is happy under Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Telangana has witnessed rampant corruption and nepotism. This government has failed in every aspect and has been intolerably despotic. Therefore, the collective anger of the people, which is palpable on the ground, will transform into a positive vote for the BJP, and we will come to power.
What makes you confident of coming to power when the main fight seems to be between BRS and the Congress Party?
The manufactured perception that the main fight is between BRS and the Congress is a deliberate narrative being peddled by both parties. They are ideological journeymen, share the same DNA of family rule, corruption and minority appeasement. The public sees them both as one and the same and this has been validated by the revolving door politics since 2014 of the leaders and MLAs. In fact, both are hands in glove and have a tacit understanding. By pretending to be attacking each other, they actually want to sustain the false perception of being political rivals. They are, in fact, good friends. My confidence stems from a realistic assessment of the situation.
As party president, don’t you feel you should have contested Assembly elections?
The decision as to who should contest and who shouldn’t contest is taken by the national party after taking inputs from multiple quarters. They wanted me to take care of the entire electioneering process. Since we have announced a BC as Chief Minister, it may give our rival an opportunity to confuse voters.
BJP’s top leaders including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, and others, are extensively campaigning in Telangana, don’t they trust the local leadership to take on KCR or Revanth Reddy?
The national leadership lends credibility to our campaign as we are able to contrast Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s spotless and blemishless 9.5 years of governance with KCR’s corrupt, despotic and dynastic rule. Mr. Modi is our tallest leader. He and others are campaigning as a matter of collective responsibility and leadership.
Your party claims to be for social justice and promises to make a BC the Chief Minister when a BC was shifted as party president just before the elections?
Mr. Bandi Sanjay’s term as president was over. The party initially thought of continuing him until the elections, but they later decided to make him national general secretary, which is an elevation, which I think is due to the contribution he made to the party.
Why did it take your government nine years to form a task committee for SC categorisation as demanded by Madiga community?
SC sub-categorisation is a very sensitive issue. Therefore, our national leadership wanted to have nuanced understanding of its implications, and after analysing the complexity around categorisation, Mr Modi gave a commitment to categorisation. It has always been our priority since the matter is sensitive, it took a while. Now the Centre is determined to complete categorisation within the framework of the Constitution at the earliest.
BJP claims central investigative agencies like CBI and ED are independent; don’t you think it rings hollow in the light of raids on former MP Vivek Venkatswamy as soon as he left the party?
CBI and ED are independent. The BJP government has nothing to do with raids on Dr. Venkatswamy. The raids happened after the sitting BRS MLA filed a detailed complaint, this is what I read in the newspapers.
With regard to design flaws in ‘national’ Kaleshwaram irrigation project, how can the Centre shrug responsibility after clearing the drawings and giving funds?
The Central Water Commission (CWC) and other organisations are studying the entire problem. They will go deep into that to find out the truth. Central agencies clear the documents based on the DPRs (detailed project reports) submitted by the State government. The CWC does not construct dams, the responsibility for the construction of dams lies with the government here.
Can you clarify if the Centre has insisted on meters for farm pump sets if the States want more funding or loans?
Absolutely false. The Central government has never insisted on installing meters for farm pump sets. There are matters of reform where direct DBT transferred to bank accounts in lieu of subsidy may need consumption patterns of consumers. The BRS government is diverting electricity meant for farmers for other uses and therefore, for accounting purposes this may be required. However, the Centre has neither asked nor insisted on fixing meters to agriculture pump sets.