HYDERABAD: Former Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who recently returned to the BJP fold, is confident that his party will come to power in Telangana in 2023. Interacting with the editorial team of TNIE at the Express Chat programme here on Tuesday, Rao said the conditions for the growth of the BJP in the State were more conducive now than ever before.
“After demitting office as governor of Maharashtra, I returned to Hyderabad and secured party membership. We are BJP men and will continue to be BJP men till the end. I am what I am today because of the party,” he said. Speaking about reports that in his capacity as governor, he played the role of a facilitator in helping Maharashtra and Telangana reach an accord on diversion of Godavari water to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project, he said, “I did not facilitate the meeting. (Chief Minister) KCR came to Mumbai and sat with his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis in Sahyadri Guest House. I was not involved. But when the two States struck a deal, I felt happy because I wanted diversion of Godavari water for irrigation of large barren tracts of Telangana.”
Though he did not want to be drawn into any controversy over allegations of irregularities that occurred in the construction of the `80,000 crore Kaleshwaram project, he said he was aware of his party’s stand on the issue. “At present, I am observing what is happening. I do not want to make any comment. I prefer to remain silent,” he said.
The senior BJP leader went on to say he is optimistic of his party capturing power in the State in the next election because the people of Telangana adore Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The prime minister has found a place in their hearts,” he asserted. This apart, Telangana, historically, is a place where the BJP would find it easy to sink its roots. It is the BJP that had put the focus on September 17, the day Telangana was liberated from the Nizam’s tyrannical rule in 1948.
Another factor that would help the party, he said, is that people were now looking to Modi for development. “We won four Lok Sabha seats. This shows that the Modi wave is still strong in this part of the country. It would only become stronger, going forward... In 1999, we had seven MPs,” he recalled, seeking to drive home the point that the BJP is always a force to reckon with.
Rao said it was BJP that brought to the fore, as far back as in 1998, the need to celebrate the indomitable spirit of the people of Telangana and their struggle against the Nizams, by demanding that the day be celebrated as an official programme like Independence Day. Karnataka and Maharashtra were doing this since some districts of these states were originally part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state, but the Telangana government has not yet done it, he said. This demand, he added, was very close to the heart of BJP chief Amit Shah, and the party would continue to make efforts to unite people on this issue.
Guv, not a mere rubber stamp: Rao
Hyderabad: Is the governor of a state a mere rubber stamp? Former governor of Maharashtra Ch Vidyasagar Rao vehemently shakes his head. “A governor should not be ridiculed as a rubber stamp. Only someone who does not know the Constitution would do that,” he said. Even as he admits that the number game is most important in deciding the appointment of a chief minister, Rao said that a governor has discretionary powers as enshrined in the Constitution, which cannot be overruled. The chief minister and council of ministers are appointed by the governor and only he or she can remove the ministers or suspend the House if need be
Vidyasagar’s work on tribal welfare in Maha
Hyderabad: Vidyasagar Rao is known for his efforts in decentralising power to enable tribal welfare, as enshrined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. Speaking to Express, the former governor said the President of India had, in fact, said that his plan must be emulated by governors across India. He went on to explain how he had invoked the special provisions of the Fifth Schedule to allocate a special budget for tribal welfare. “Based on the Schedule, we prepared a tribal sub-plan for Maha,” he said. As per the sub-plan, from the total welfare budget pegged for tribal welfare — `6,000 crore — 5 per cent must reach the gram panchayats directly. “While some villages like Nandurbar got upto 80 lakh, others received 10 lakh,” said the former governor