‘125 seats more than enough’ — Telangana CM Revanth Reddy on how Congress can form govt at Centre

Hyderabad: There is nothing wrong in inviting Gautam Adani and his son to invest in Telangana, Chief Minister Revanth Reddy has said, rejecting suggestions that his overtures to the Gujarati businessman flew in the face of Rahul Gandhi’s constant diatribe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “friend”.

Reddy met Adani on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual summit at Davos in January. The Adani Group pledged investments worth Rs 12,400 crore in Telangana.

“I invited him and his son into my secretariat. I have met his son and him. So, what is wrong with it? They are also citizens of Indians, right? And they are investors for me. They are not taking anything from my state. I’m taking their investment into my state,” Telangana CM Revanth Reddy said in an interview with ThePrint. 

“Rahul Gandhi is a fair person. If you are doing any undue benefit to any person or any corporate company, he is there to oppose. Otherwise, he’s (Rahul) a nice person … He’s a knowledgeable person. First, we have to understand his thinking or his mindset. So I know what his ideas are about Adani or Ambani or any other person,” he said.

“Ports, airports, national highways and other PSU sectors; Modi has given (them away) only for peanuts. That is what Rahul Gandhi is fighting against.” 

Reddy also reiterated that he stood by his statement regarding the surgical strike that was criticised by BJP leaders. 

Explaining it further, he reiterated that there is no evidence that the Government of India conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“Yes, definitely (I still stand by my statement). That is what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to educate my people. As a principal opposition party (given that earlier) when the Congress fought against Pakistan, we have defeated them in war. We have divided Pakistan into Bangladesh and Pakistan; that is our track record. That is the capacity of our leader Smt Indira Gandhi. Whereas the BJP time and again, they are only making slogans for politics… to get some seats,” he said. 

Reddy further said that it is because the Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies failed to provide vital information, which led to the Pulwama attack. 

“After that you are telling me that I have done surgical strike. So my question is that your intelligence has failed. Why? Because you have deployed all these officers on politics and political leaders. So, they don’t have time to get all the information… Their main focus is on politicians, opposition leaders. The officer you can deploy at the border against Pakistan, the same officer can also be deployed against your political opponent. So, BJP is using all these officers to get information on opposition parties to finish them. They’re using these agencies (on the opposition), which is not correct,” he added. 

The Telangana CM, who also heads the Congress state unit, expressed confidence that the Congress will come to power at the Centre.

“INDIA bloc is there to form the government; that is why we have declared a pre-poll alliance. So the Congress is contesting 330 or 340 (seats) somewhere. So, if BJP wants to form the government, they need 250-plus. If the Congress wants to form the government 125 is more than enough for the Congress party (sic) (read, the Congress, unlike the BJP,  has many allies, allowing it to form the government even with 125 seats of its own),” he said. 

“We have our own friends and confidence whereas the BJP doesn’t have those friends or confidence. If they’re not going to get a magic figure, they are not going to form the government.”

Reddy said that PM Modi started ‘iss baar 400 paar’ slogan because he wanted to change the Constitution and to remove reservations. “That is why he was trying to get to 2/3rd majority seats. If he’s going to form the government, they are going to remove all reservations. If they are going to get 400, they are going to change the Constitution. This is the biggest threat to our democracy.”  

Asked who is the tougher challenge in Telangana, the chief minister said while at the local level Bharat Rashtra Samithi continues to be the “tougher competitor” but for the national election, “BJP and Narendra Modi is the biggest task, so I have to take it head on.” 

“I don’t have any other option. I cannot choose my enemy; my enemies are there or my political opponents are there.”  

Born to a farmer’s family from Kondareddipalle village near Kalwakurthy in undivided Andhra Pradesh (now in south Telangana), Reddy was associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in his student life. 

After a disenchanted stint, Reddy successfully contested the 2006 Zilla Parishad Territorial Council election as an Independent. He then joined the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 2008 and later the Congress in 2017.

Also Read: Modi turns Congress’s criticism on its head, questions Rahul’s silence on ‘Ambani-Adani’ 

‘BJP is following RSS agenda’

The Telangana chief minister said the BJP is trying to fulfil the RSS agenda, which he termed as the “mother organisation”. 

“When the mother is saying something the son has to implement; that agenda (that the BJP has implemented, so far) is the RSS agenda, whether it is Triple Talaq, Article 370, Citizen Amendment Act, NRC and UCC. All these are not BJP agenda; all these are RSS agenda. This Constitutional change and abolishing reservation is also an RSS agenda,” he said. 

When asked that he started his political journey with the RSS students’ wing, Reddy said he has spoken about it time and again and has also told “my leader Rahul Gandhi that I’ve started my career with ABVP”. 

“I’m a student of that school (read, ABVP) so I know what the syllabus is. So, there is nothing to hide,” he asserted.

To a question whether if invited he would have attended the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony, Reddy countered: “World wise, whatever population is there, everyone can visit Ayodhya Temple. What is wrong with it? I’m unable to understand.” 

“I’ve invited the Prime Minister to Bhadrachalam Ram Mandir, but they (BJP leaders) have not come. So, I have South Ayodhya in my state. It’s quite popular. Next time I’m also going to invite (the BJP leaders). They are not taking South temples and cultures seriously. That is the problem,” he added.  

In March, Reddy had taken everyone by surprise when he called PM Narendra Modi ‘peddanna’ (elder brother)

The Chief Minister told ThePrint that “when I’m sitting in the Chief Minister chair, I’ll behave like a chief minister. So I’ll respect my Prime Minister whoever he is.” 

“Whether it’s Narendra Modi ji or tomorrow someone else. So, I have to maintain it. I’m there to maintain that relation with the Government of India as well the Prime Minister. So, I don’t hesitate to ask for support. I don’t hesitate to take help from them. That is my people’s right so the Government of India has to support when my state is proposing something to develop, something to give, some welfare to my people. They have to (help) with that — they are not going to lose anything; they’ll get their name also if they want to market it,” he argued.  

Pointing out that so far he has had a ‘good experience’ with the Centre, he urged the PM “to take care of everyone”. 

“That is why I’ve told Narendra Modi ji. You are the big brother, you have to behave like a big brother. India is a Union of States. Every chief minister is your younger brother and you have to support  each and every younger brother. You are the family head. The family head has to take care of everyone,” he added. 

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Why Modi has been using ‘ab ki baar, 400 paar’ less & less in election rallies