Since fighting together for a separate Telangana state that was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) president M. Kodandaram and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo and caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao have come a long way. Kodandaram was chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee, which was formed to fight for statehood, and later became an apolitical body. More than four years after Telangana was formed, the former comrades have now turned into sworn enemies, with Kodandaram claiming that KCR (as Rao is known) has let down the people of the state since becoming chief minister. Both their parties are set to face each other in the Telangana assembly election on 7 December elections. Kodandaram formed the TJS earlier this year, which is contesting eight seats as part of the Congress-led alliance in the polls set to be held on Friday. In an interview, the former Osmania university professor explains why he is opposed to Rao and about his decision to join the alliance to take on the TRS. Edited excerpts:

The TJS is contesting eight seats (out of 119). How many seats do you think your party can win?

We have been active in the state for many years and are doing good work. People have extended their support, their sympathy is also there, but translating that into votes is important. We are considered as possible winners in most of the seats.

After fighting with KCR for Telangana, you are now completely opposing him. Why so?

The first thing is that we want to end KCR’s autocratic rule. People should have a say in governance, and must have adequate opportunities in the decision-making process as well. All those avenues are closed. KCR’s government is using its position to secure resources to only a few propertied sections, like contractors, corporates etc. So, we are opposing this development model of the TRS. We want to change that and redefine development, which can contribute to the growth of districts, which have been completely neglected.

TRS claims to have done work for the public, through major irrigation and drinking water projects (and others) for the state. You have been raising issues on that front as well.

Some of these projects are necessary, so that is not the issue. But these have been designed under the influence of contractors, and can be done at a much lower scale. The prices have been blown up and made mega projects. The money is going to go down the drain and into the pockets of contractors and politicians.

Many of the people who have been displaced (due to land acquisition in particular for the 80,000 crore Kaleswaram lift irrigation project) will vote against the TRS, not because of that but due to how they were dealt with. Their basic rights were trampled upon and the government took their lands forcibly.

Given that the alliance also includes the Telugu Desam Party, which was against the formation of Telangana, how do you think it will perform?

This is not something that happened all of a sudden. We have been working together to fight against the misdeeds of the government, and that is one reason we think the alliance will work. We have also formed a common minimum programme.

The TJS is contesting eight seats, of which the Congress has fielded four people in spite of the alliance. Why?

There were difficulties and in our case, there were certain problems with seat allocation. But we have kept those aside to fight for victory.

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