North Andhra suffered due to ‘wilful negligence’ and coalition politics will play a major role, he says
Jana Sena Party founder Pawan Kalyan says he is ready to work with and support any party committed to the welfare of people, especially the poor.
In a free-wheeling interview with The Hindu, he talks about the issues in Uttara (North) Andhra, the ‘opportunistic politics’ of the TDP, his road map and coalition politics, which he says is the need of the hour.
The people of Uttara Andhra, he said, suffered due to “wilful negligence” by the local and State leaders. “Despite being rich both in agriculture and mineral resources, there is mass migration. Whenever there is a mishap at a construction site, be it in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, or Chennai, a few of the people who die are from this region, especially Srikakulam and Vizianagaram. This aspect has always hit me hard,” he said.
Jute mills and cooperative sugar factories had been closed for years, but political leaders were rich and famous. This indicated that things had not changed since Independence and wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few, he said, recalling the Srikakulam uprising during 1969-1971.
‘I am educating people’
Mr. Pawan said his primary role was to make people aware of their rights.
“The TDP government says I am instigating people. But what I am doing is educating the people. Secondly, there is a lot of fear factor in the region. Common people are scared of the leaders of the ruling party. My role is to remove the fear factor.”
He said agriculture and education needed reforms. He would go for a common education system with slight modifications.
“I am not in favour of privatisation and prefer to have a socialist system of State-run industrialisation. The wealth generated should be pumped back for the development of people or social causes.”
On the GST, the JSP chief said the policy was not bad, but implementation was. The purpose would be served if the money was ploughed back for development.
He was also critical on the lack of development of Rayalaseema.
“If Sathya Sai Baba could develop a barren tract like Puttaparthi, why can’t the State do?” he asked.
He blamed it on lack of commitment and political will. Drawing on his visits to Israel and Palestine, he said the terrain there was no different from Rayalaseema — barren and arid. But technology, science and commitment of leaders had changed the region.
Continuing his tirade on the BJP and the TDP, Mr. Pawan said the TDP lacked commitment, and greed was pulling it down, and the BJP had taken the people of the State for granted.
“I agree that you need money to run a political party, but how much. Now, if you are looking into buying votes, then the ruling party is eating into the State’s wealth.”
He said coalition politics were the need of the hour and would play a major role in the coming elections both at the Centre and in the State.
Referring to his support to the TDP and the BJP in 2014, he said, “Even I needed a platform to grow and raise my voice. Had I not aligned, I would not have become what I am today. I am not pro or against any party. If the BJP, the arch rival of the Communist parties, can align with the CPI in Telangana for bifurcation and if the Congress could have a different stand with the Communists in West Bengal and Kerala to suit the needs of the people, what is wrong? But my idea is clear – align for the sake of good of people, but don’t come together just to retain power without doing anything for the people.”
Mr. Pawan said he was in a position to work on his own and the ideology of Left parties was close to his heart.
“My heart has always been a little left to the centre, but there are some differences with the Left parties.” He said he was not in favour of closing down industries to drive union agenda. It’s time the Left parties did a bit of rethinking and widened their horizon and followed a ‘centre’ path where both the industries and the employees were benefited. “We need to look into the pains of both the industrialists and the employees.”
‘No truck with BJP’
He said aligning with the BJP was ruled out as people were not with it and there could be no understanding with the TDP. “My comfort zone is with the left parties.”
On the YSR Congress, he said he never would take a decision until he faced a situation.
“I look at good governance and things will be clear post poll. The recent Karnataka polls have created a lot of confusion. Let us wait.”
On the selection of candidates, Mr. Pawan said it was a challenge. He said he would not do an extensive background check but only look at the commitment they had in serving people. “I know some people will use me as a ladder to go up and I am open to it. But my only submission to them is simple — you stand for the people, especially downtrodden.”