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'Naidu is trying to fool the people of Andhra'

By Mohammed Siddique in Khammam
April 12, 2009 21:11 IST
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Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare Renuka Chowdhary, who is known for bulldozing through any obstacle which falls in her path, is now confronting a hard rock in her constituency -- Khammam in Andhra Pradesh.

After winning the seat twice in 1999 and 2004, the fiery Renuka is unsure of recording a hat-trick as there is a strong anti incumbency factor at work. Her opponent Nama Nagaeshwara Rao of the Telugu Desam Party, who owns a big construction company Madhucon, is in a formidable position thanks to the alliance between two powerful political forces in the area- the TDP and the Left.

Khammam has always been the stronghold of the Left, specially the Communist Party of India-Marxist, but in 2004 Renuka had a cake-walk thanks to the alliance of the Congress with the Left.

She had won with a margin of more than one lakh votes. But now people are saying in different parts of this sprawling Lok Sabha constituency that Nagreshwara Rao is going to win the constituency with even a bigger margin.

Not to give up easily, Renuka Chowdhary is leaving no stone unturned to turn the tide in her favour. Chowdhury, backed by her entire family and close friends, is trying to marshal the Congress cadre to fight back against an aggressive opponent. She even got the young Congress scion Rahul Gandhi to address a meeting at Kottagudem, but even that did not go very well.

In an interview to Mohammed Siddique, she exuded confidence that she will emerge victorious in the April 16 elections.

People here are saying that you are in a grave trouble because of the alliance of TDP with the Left. What do you say about your chances?

The Grand Alliance is a grand failure because of various reasons. Left parties were our allies in the last elections. Their cadre at the grass root level and the people at large have not accepted this unnatural alliance of Left with the TDP now. Secondly at the lower level, there are serious differences among the two left parties and the TDP. Thirdly, people want Congress to be back in power both at the Centre and in Hyderabad for their excellent schemes and pro poor programs like Arogyasri, the scholarship and fee reimbursement schemes and the NREGP (National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme) which is providing badly needed work to the labourers in villages.

How about the anti-incumbency you are facing?

I am confident that I am going to win because it is the people who matter, not the media and nor the so called observers. All this talk of anti-incumbency is creation of my political opponents. They are spreading these stories of me not being available to my voters. I have spent a minimum of five days every month in my constituency despite the constraints of being a MP and a minister.

But in the last elections you could win with a margin of one lakh vote because of the Left support. Now you don't have it.

There is no doubt that the voters here are highly polarised and one can reach the conclusion that without the Left, the odds will be against us. But the people here are emotionally attached to the Congress and they will support us.


The people are very much happy with what I have done for this constituency including several tourism projects and bringing Khammam district on Prime Minister's Food Security Program, and raising of the Grijan Battallion and recruitment of tribal people in the army.

How about the situation elsewhere in the state? How do you look at the prospects of Congress in Andhra Pradesh?

I am sure the Congress will retain power comfortably. The people don't want to lose the schemes and programs introduced by the Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's government. Taking decisions and preparing plans and schemes at the high level is one thing and delivering them on the ground and taking their benefits to the people in the remotest corners of the state is another.

But Chandrababu Naidu has promised cash transfer and colour television to the poor?

He is trying to fool the people but he will not succeed. Even the illiterate villagers are asking from where he will bring the money to fulfil these promises. People don't need TV, they need employment and food security. That is why the Congress will remain their preference.

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Mohammed Siddique in Khammam