HYDERABAD: Numerous defections by Congress leaders have not dented Renuka Chowdhury’s spirit. Ending days of speculation, the former Union minister was announced as Congress’ candidate from Khammam Parliamentary constituency on Saturday. Sitting at her residence in Banjara Hills, Chowdhury appeared relieved that her name was cleared by party high command. Her probable candidature, after all, was kept on hold for a long time.
“There is so much ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ in the party right now. I am humbled that they (party leadership) trusted me and realised that I would not do such a thing,” she said. She was referring to defections by nine Congress MLAs who had recently switched sides and moved to ruling TRS, shaking the grand old party to its core and, possibly, dent her chances of winning.
The two-time Lok Sabha MP from Khammam said her candidature was the result of party workers wanting a familiar face. “The people are with me. So are the party workers, with whose support I will win,” she said. Chowdhury further said that the defections were an ‘unfortunate deterioration’ of the values of her party.
“We come into politics because we associate with the ideology of a particular party. Unfortunately, when BJP and TRS came to power, with no ideology, they poached on candidates of other parties and boasted about it as if it was an achievement,” she said. Chowdhury, speaking on her plans for the constituency, assured that she would solve the various issues that plague the people of Khammam.
She vowed to finish pending development works in the region and make sure her voice is heard in the Parliament. “My arrogance is that there is no one who can work as I can. My relation with people of Khammam is an old one. I believe they will ensure my victory,” she said.
Old rivals to face off
Renuka Chowdhury will be pitted up against TRS’ Nama Nageswara Rao. They had first crossed paths in 2004, when Rao was still with the Telugu Desam Party. Chowdhury won over Rao with a comfortable margin. In 2009, however, it was Nageswara Rao who managed to register a win. After nearly 10 years of being away from Khammam, Chowdhury’s fight won’t be easy.
Won’t waste time talking about TRS, says Renuka
Why was the announcement (of your candidature) delayed?
I cannot disclose what was discussed in the meeting but my name was there in the first list while nominations were being deliberated upon. It would have been nice if V Hanumantha Rao was also given a ticket.
Tell us about your differences with CLP leader Malu Bhatti Vikramarka?
Groupism is inherent in every political system and it is nothing new to the Congress. I do not believe that my CLP leader is against me. It is only media speculation.
What do you think about former minister DK Aruna joining BJP?
It is a matter of her personal choice and I feel it was the wrong one. It is unfortunate. I understand that she felt hurt (in Congress). We all go through that phase. But I don’t think she will benefit (in BJP).
What’s your campaign strategy?
I am not going to waste everyone’s time talking about TRS. Instead, I will tell the people what I will do for them. I will tell people what Congress wishes to contribute to the future of this nation.
Your views on TRS candidate Nama Nageshwar Rao
Chief Minister KCR himself said in a public meeting that Nageshwar Rao could ‘fool’ people. A video of him saying this is doing the rounds on social media
You were earlier with the TDP. Does it not matter?
It is the integrity, with which I have worked for the party, that matters. In 1988, when I joined Congress was at its lowest ebb, like it is today.