T Devender Goud, a seasoned politician, talks with restraint. He does not get angry even when provoked. But he does not hesitate to speak what he believes even if it hurts his friends. His association with the Telugu Desam Party was two-and-half decades.
He developed so much attachment with the party because it gave the leaders like him from the rural background a chance to come to the centre stage in the State politics. He still reveres Telugu thespian Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, who founded the Telugu Desam Party.
Devender Goud, who is credited with resurrecting the Telugu Desam Party in the Telangana region after its rout in 2004 elections, quit the party in June, 2008. He has unveiled a new party Nava Telangana Party to campaign for a separate statehood for Telangana and fight for social justice.
In a lengthy interview to andhramania.com Special Correspondent, Devender Goud has frankly expressed his opinion on several aspects, including on the style of functioning of Telugu Desam Party president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
Following are the excerpts:
Q: You are said to have quit the Telugu Desam Party not only because of a separate Telangana issue but also because of your detestation of the style of functioning of the party president N Chandrababu Naidu. How far it is true?
A: First of all, the Telugu Desam Party was in power for a little over 17 years in the past 25 years since its inception. A sort of sloppiness and indiscipline developed in the party. Once we were out of power, I thought it was high time that we put our house (party) in order. So I told Chandrababu Naidu to encourage new elements. I specifically told him that “you (Naidu) have lost your credibility. You must try to rebuild your credibility as a leader.” It is because the leader’s credibility is more important for the regional parties to survive. But he remains unchanged. When we were in power, we corrected several of mistakes Naidu had committed.
Q: But you remained in the party for almost three-and-half years even after the party was routed in the 2004 elections. Why did you not come out early?
A: I developed a lot of affection for the party. The party under the leadership of its founder N T Rama Rao gave opportunity for people like me from rural background to come to the centre stage in the State politics. So I remained in the party, all the time trying to rejuvenate it. The party leaders in the Telangana region came out only after I undertook padayatra and slept in the hostels for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The media, too, credited me with securing good results wherever I visited during the bypolls following the en masse resignations of the MLAS and MPs belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
Earlier to my padayatra in the Telangana region, the party leaders used to hold press conferences in the party office and read whatever appeared in a section of the Press before they retired to the comforts of their houses. I told the leaders, including Naidu, that it was not the way to strengthen the party. But they did not heed my advice.
Q: What is your assessment of Naidu? Why, do you think, he has lost credibility?
A: Because of gimmicks. He always depends on short-cuts for power. He craves for power.
Q: How do you react to the Left parties aligning themselves with the Telugu Desam Party after fighting a bitter war against Naidu in the run up to the 2004 elections?
A: You tell me whether the same combination — CPI, CPI-M and the TRS — did not join hands with the Congress during the 2004 elections. Then they said they wanted to oust Chandrababu Naidu. Now they target Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
Q: How far the grand alliance of parties can succeed?
A: It will be a great flop.
Q: Now you are out of the Telugu Desam Party. Could you throw some more light on its internal affairs? Is it true that you had warned Chandrababu Naidu several times when he was the chief minister to change his style of functioning and his attitude towards weaker sections and farmers?
A: Yes. I warned him several times. I criticised his anti-farmer approach in public also. It is very difficult to change the attitude of a person, you know.
Q: You mean Chandrababu Naidu?
A: I mean what I said.
Q: What prompted you to join hands with film actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi?
A: The Praja Rajyam Party is a new party and it is wedded to social justice. People want a change. We will succeed.
Q: How do you propose to resolve the Naxalite issue if you come to power?
A: I always believe it is a socio-economic programme. I told Chandrababu Naidu, too, when he was the chief minister, that it cannot be handled as law and order problem alone. I have plans to resolve it. Economic issues, too, are involved in it.
Q: You were projected as championing the cause of integrated Andhra Pradesh when you were in the Telugu Desam Party. How come you are now campaigning for a separate Telangana?
A: Well. I respected the party’s policy as long as I was in the Telugu Desam Party. What is wrong in two state theory. Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand have witnessed a lot of development after they were formed. Their Gross Domestic Product had gone up.