Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh tells Santwana Bhattacharya about his new book, Old History, New Geography, on the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh and creation of Telangana, a decision that proved ‘suicidal’ for the Congress. Excerpts:
Didn’t Congress lose out because of how division of the state was handled politically?
That could better answered by Ghulam Nabi Azad or Digvijaya Singh…. Why we lost out is because we had six chief ministerial candidates building castles in the air and not a single pan-Telangana leader to match KCR. He’s Telangana’s Modi — with an ability to deliver fiery speeches.
What were your other considerations? There was revolt in your state party.
The reorganisation was not about short-term electoral goals of Congress... In the long term it will benefit both states, the people.
So Congress was sacrificing for the long-term good with no fall back strategies?
The reorganisation was taken up after all major political parties came on board... Why did the issue of bifurcation arise? It was about Hyderabad: the way it had boomed with the local population feeling benefits were all going to the outsiders.
Now that AP is bifurcated and Congress is in neither state, do you have a rival plan for UP?
In Telangana, there’s hope of revival — the party structure is still there. It’s a matter of time…
Your MLAs are leaving the party to join TRS everyday!
Those leaving are contractors, not political workers… But in Andhra, the party is gone, either to Jagan’s YSRC or TDP. We’ve to start from scratch. There’s lot bitterness against the Congress.
How will Congress make a mark in UP by bringing in Priyanka Gandhi?
However much party workers put pressure, finally it will have to be her decision. As far as I know she has her priorities...
It’s in a limbo, like Rahul Gandhi taking charge…
Everything is ready, blueprint of his team... All it needs is a formal announcement, can happen any time. Even a few days.
What will be Mrs Gandhi’s role?
She’s our supreme leader... She has a right to be tired….