Among the Congress leaders from Telangana who spearheaded the campaign to put pressure on the central leadership for a separate state was Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha. As his party announced the decision in favour of Telangana state,a visibly happy Narasimha told Manoj CG the Congress would definitely gain from the move and that Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy should abide by it.
Your first reaction to the Congress Working Committees decision to support formation of separate state of Telangana?
This is a historic decision. So many youths have sacrificed their lives for Telangana. There were hundreds of self-immolations for this cause. The political agitation went on for decades and it was perhaps unique in the world. The region was backward. People were feeling insecure because they were educationally backward and they wanted political empowerment.
How hopeful are you that the new state will be formed given the fact that nothing had happened even after the UPA government committing to it in 2009?
The Congress was always committed to Telangana. The manifesto of the Congress for the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh in 2004 and 2009 referred to the demand for a separate state. There were apprehensions. The Sri Krishna committee was appointed. There was a consultation process. All this takes time. We are a national party. We cannot hurry through such a decision.
Will the Congress benefit in Telangana given the fact that the TRS was spearheading the agitation all the time?
Thousand per cent. Our footprint is everywhere. Congress vote bank is there. Recently,we gave a call to the Telangana leadership for a public rally and three lakh people turned up. The Telangana issue was always taken up by the Congress. We are at the forefront of the agitation. Despite the TRS spearheading the agitation,it won only 26 seats in the 2004 Assembly elections,which came down to 16 later. They could win only two Lok Sabha seats. You must recall that in 1999 41 MLAs of the Congress from Telangana had petitioned the President for formation of Telangana.
Do you expect the TRS to merge with the Congress?
It is for the TRS to decide.
Do you expect those who have left the party like Keshav Rao to come back?
Those who have left,be it Keshav Rao or anybody else,it is up to them to take a decision. We were with the party through thick and thin. What we are enjoying now is all because of the party. We reposed absolute faith in the Congress leadership.
What about those who are opposing the formation of the state like Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy. Do you expect a split or rebellion in the party?
In the Congress,once the party high command takes a decision everyone abides by it. A leader should be a statesman. Everyone has conveyed their views and once a decision is taken everyone has to accept. Out of 56 years of the states existence,44 years they (people from non-Telangana region) ruled. A person from that region was the Chief Minister and this is the outcome. The Telangana region has become the most backward.
Are you satisfied with the proposal that Hyderabad will remain joint capital of the two states for 10 years?
We dont have any animosity or ill-will against anybody. We agree that till they find a new capital,the city can remain the capital for both the states. All the settlers in Hyderabad will be protected. It is the responsibility of the Telangana leaders and the Congress leaders to protect each and every one of them. There need not be any fear. We will do it.