Even before he settled down as Chief Minister of Telangana, winning in a furiously contested assembly election, Anumula Revanth Reddy has the responsibility of clinching the State for the Congress in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Reddy is confident that the Congress will win 14 out of 17 seats in Telangana. In a free-wheeling conversation with businessline, the Chief Minister shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects. Excerpts:


Has there been any strategic planning for these elections?

We are on the ground. We will get 14 out of the 17 seats. We have made commitments and we deliver.


How do you react to the two names now being freely bandied about — Ambani and Adani?

As regards Adani and Ambani, they have a double-engine sarkar. As far as Telangana is concerned, we are asking them to invest in the State. We are not giving them any property. So there is a difference between Telangana and the Union Government.

The Government of India has given away so much property at a throwaway price to Adani and Ambani, whereas in Telangana, we have asked them to invest to create employment and to create income for the State. This is the difference.


You are talking about the BJP abolishing reservation. Is it realistically possible to abolish reservations in India?

The reality is that the BJP is the political front of the RSS. They (RSS) wanted to complete their political agenda through the BJP with the abolition of Article 370, Citizenship Amendment Act, Triple Talaq, Ayodhya Ram temple, among others. Now they’re targeting the Constitution and abolishing reservation. So they (BJP) are implementing the RSS agenda.

The census exercise started by the British era has been continued by the Indian government since independence. But the Narendra Modi government did not conduct the decadal census in 2021. Why? What is the reason?

This time, people are demanding a census and also a caste census.

Why is the BJP asking for 400 seats? Why not a simple majority? They are asking for 400 seats — a 2/3 majority —because they want to amend the Constitution.


Do you think Rahul Gandhi has the capability or the persona to match Narendra Modi?

Before December 23, 2023, everyone was saying KCR is the big personality. So how was Revanth Reddy able to defeat KCR? How did that happen? When Indira Gandhi could be defeated then why can’t Narendra Modi be defeated? In a democratic country, the public will decide.


There is a difference in how Rahul Gandhi is perceived in the southern states and in the north; How do you see this?

Only the Gandhi family has a pan-India appeal. He (Rahul Gandhi) had many opportunities to become the Prime Minister or a Cabinet Minister, but he did not. He chose to work for the party. So people see his sacrifice and hard work. This time, it is going to be Rahul Gandhi.


These are trying times for Centre-State relations, how do you see yourself negotiating this terrain, and settling issues like Telangana’s borrowing?

Right now, I’m in the war zone. So, I have to act accordingly. But when I’m performing the job of the Chief Minister, I maintain my relations with the Prime Minister. I believe in India being a Union of States. Prime Minister is the elder brother of the Chief Minister. So he has to play that role.

I have requested the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to restructure my loan (Telangana’s borrowing).


Is there a North-South divide?

Words don’t divide but actions do. Narendra Modi and the BJP government at the Centre are refusing to give us proper financial support and political representation.

Hindi is spoken by the largest number of people followed by Telugu. There are seven Cabinet Ministers from Gujarat which has 26 Parliamentary seats. There are 12 Cabinet Ministers from Uttar Pradesh including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister, Finance Minister, Urban Development Minister, Rural Development Minister, Commerce Minister... they have given everything to Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Meanwhile, there are 42 Telugu-speaking MPs. But we have got only one representation in the Cabinet. So I ask, why this discrimination?

When Gujarat is getting a bullet train, Sabarmati riverfront, Gift City, what about Hyderabad? Why not in Telangana? Why have you not given any funds for Metro here? Why have you not allocated river development? All these actions are going to play key role in coming days. Government of India has to explain and then we can look at the relation between the South and the North.