- KCR says no chance of allying with BJP, Congress ahead of 2019
- Says in talks with opposition leaders to form federal front
- Slams Chandrababu Naidu, says he's running a "crooked" campaign
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who dissolved the assembly in his state to enable polls months before the 2019 national election, says he is firm on forming a federal front without the Congress or the BJP. "India needs to change and the beginning will be from Hyderabad," he told NDTV's Prannoy Roy on Sunday.
KCR, as Mr Rao is popularly known, said he has already talked to some leaders including Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. "I'm not doing this for the sake of becoming the Prime Minister. I'm doing this for the sake of a change in the country. I'm a warrior, not a beggar. Now I want change in Indian politics, I'll do my best," he said.
Asked which of the two national parties is worse in his opinion, KCR said, "Both are more than worse, they are about centralising powers. They are not doing what they should do. I am very clear in my mind, we will not align with anybody, we will align with the masses of India".
BJP leaders, who were seen to be aiming for a tie-up with KCR's Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) before their overtures fell flat, comment that the chief minister's move of advancing the elections indicates a lack of confidence. Local leaders said he did not want his pitch about progress in Telangana to be overtaken by the BJP-Congress tussle in the campaign for the next year's general elections.
The Congress, which has forged an alliance with Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, has called TRS the "B Team of the BJP".
KCR, who was at the forefront of the campaign for a separate Telangana that came into being under the Congress-led UPA government, said he would not ally with Sonia Gandhi even if she asks. Sonia Gandhi, he conceded, was "not that bad... she was magnanimous"; his son KT Rama Rao insists that the Congress enabled the creation of Telangana because it was a "political compulsion and it had no choice".
In 2014, KCR had said that no one can take away the credit for Telangana from Sonia Gandhi.
As for Mr Naidu, "he is doing some crooked politics," Mr Rao said of his Andhra Pradesh counterpart.
Following the tie-up between the Congress and Mr Naidu, some opinion polls have predicted that the alliance may win the elections, or at least more seats than Mr Rao's TRS. Questioning the few seats Mr Naidu is contesting, Mr Rao told NDTV that the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister "has no policy at all".
"We will win this election. It will be a landslide victory," he added.
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