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Congress messed up Andhra bifurcation & paid the price, says KT Rama Rao

KTR says Congress could have done a better job on a lot of accounts -on bifurcation of employees, pensioners, status of Hyderabad, assets and liabilities.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 30, 2014, 11.51 AM IST
KTR says Congress could have done a better job on a lot of accounts -on bifurcation of employees, pensioners, status of Hyderabad, assets and liabilities.
KTR says Congress could have done a better job on a lot of accounts -on bifurcation of employees, pensioners, status of Hyderabad, assets and liabilities.
Telangana state IT and Panchayat Raj minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao, who is also the son of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, accused the Congress-led UPA of dishing out a raw deal to the new state on several key contentious issues.

In an interview to ET's CR Sukumar and Payal Ganguly, Rao says Congress paid the price for botching up Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation.

Edited excerpts:

Q.How happy are you with the way bifurcation was done?

We are happy with the fact that Telangana has been created and we have our own state. The reason we couldn't work with the Congress was because we were not happy with the way they handled bifurcation.

They took a lopsided approach. Madam (Sonia) Gandhi, during her campaign in Telangana, said that Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had no role in formulation of the bill. Had we done that, it wouldn't be so shoddy.

Q. How do you look at the ongoing mess?

You have to understand this is a divorce and divorces are messy. They (Congress) could have done a better job on a lot of accounts -on bifurcation of employees, pensioners, status of Hyderabad, assets and liabilities.

All of this has been mentioned a number of times to all powers-that-be, but they just couldn't care.

The fact remains, they could not please either side and that's why they lost. Now is the time for course correction. That's why we are writing to Union government, asking for special status for Telangana which would otherwise result in unfair playing field.

Q. You think Telangana didn't get justice?

Telangana was the losing partner in the equation in unified AP. We lost our jobs, water. When you deliver Telangana, you are supposed to deliver justice to us. It is ironic that Telangana gets statehood and Andhra gets everything else.

Q. How about residual AP?

We wish our counterparts well. We are also going to the extent of saying if there is a need, we will join hands with AP but at the end of the day, it cannot be a zero sum game. Our loss cannot be their gain. You can't pit us against one another.

We are not just competing with the Andhra Pradesh, but with the rest of the world, including Silicon Valley (in the United States) to attract investments. Any undue advantage we confer to AP or Telangana is unfair.

Q. Are you seeking amendments to the States Reorganisation Act?

It is a challenge and a problem. In case of Polavaram (irrigation project), the ordinance passed defies constitution. To change once a bill is passed, we have to invoke Article 3 even to redefine the boundaries of a state.
They (NDA government) has taken the ordinance route and that's what we were protesting against it.

Q. How do you justify calling for a bandh as a ruling party?

Lot of people raised a finger at us when we called for a bandh on the day KCR was the CM designate. What other option did we have? We protested, met the prime minister, president. And the ordinance was signed without invoking Article 3. It is an outright breach of constitutional privilege.

Q. Are you not sending wrong signals to the investors?

Today, you have the Mullaperiyar issue between TN and Kerala, Cauvery water sharing between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, you had the Almatti between Karnataka and AP and you have Babli between Maharashtra and AP, but it did not stop growth. Polavaram is an issue, not just with Telangana, but Odisha and Chhattisgarh are fighting against it in the SC.

It is AP versus three other states. It is an inter-state dispute, an ongoing issue. Issues like these will not impact investments and industry.

Q. What about companies shifting to AP from Telangana?

Such assertions are untrue. Most of the people and industry captains from different sectors are not planning to move their base out of Hyderabad; neither services nor manufacturing.

They might look at AP for expansion plans. You cannot take services anywhere or everywhere, given 95 per cent software export comes from Hyderabad.

You need infrastructure, bandwidth, lifestyle and leisure destinations, HR, connectivity and the right people. It can't be standalone environment and Hyderabad offers that and we are trying to make it better.

Q. Banks and financial institutions are worried that Telangana and AP are encouraging fiscal indiscipline through populist promises like largescale loan waivers?

We did not get carried away like AP. We were selective about our promises and we will implement it.

We have done our arithmetic and hence set a stipulated cap of Rs 1 lakh on loan waiver, unlike Naidu who said all loans are off. We are concerned about fiscal discipline.

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