Interview: Naidu may be a stalwart but we will win Kuppam, says KRJ Bharath of YSRCP

YSRCP’s Krishna Raghava Jayendra Bharath aka KRJ Bharath is hoping to be the David to TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu’s Goliath in Kuppam seat.

BySumit Jha

Published May 06, 2024 | 11:00 AMUpdatedMay 06, 2024 | 8:20 PM

Interview: Naidu may be a stalwart but we will win Kuppam, says KRJ Bharath of YSRCP

As evening descends upon Model Town in Andhra Pradesh’s Kuppam Assembly constituency, YSRCP candidate Krishna Raghava Jayendra Bharath tirelessly goes door to door, seeking votes for himself.

His late father, K Chandramouli, represented the constituency in the previous election. Now, Bharath has emerged as the contender taking on a stalwart.

He was elected as an MLC from the YSRCP through the local bodies quota in November 2021, and later, appointed as a party in charge of the Kuppam Assembly segment.

Kuppam has long been the bastion of the Telugu Desam Party under the leadership of N Chandrababu Naidu. Since 1983, it has remained firmly in TDP’s grip, with Naidu’s initial victory in 1989 marking the beginning of his enduring dominance.

However, the political landscape is transforming.  The 35-year-old MLC is now challenging Naidu in Kuppam. He banks on the achievements of the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government. Perceiving the lack of development, he offers a vision of progress and change.

On the campaign trail, Bharath discussed in an exclusive conversation with South First the prospect of contesting against Naidu, his plans for the constituency, and the strategy to win it.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You are fighting a political stalwart who served as Chief Minister, has been MLA from this constituency for the last 35 years, and is the chief of TDP. How do you view your battle against Chandrababu Naidu?

A. People worldwide regard him as a political stalwart, believing that he keeps winning here because he has won the hearts of its people. However, the truth is that no one has opposed and fought against Mr Naidu.

My late father, Mr Chandramouli, began contesting against Mr Naidu and building up cadres in the Kuppam constituency. That’s when our fight truly began.

After these five years and all the welfare schemes that have been provided to the people, along with the significant development we have achieved during this time, it remains a fact that Kuppam was not even a third-grade municipality.

Can you imagine a person who has been CM for 14 years and MLA for 34 years in his own constituency was not part of a top-grade municipality? That was the state of Kuppam when we came into power.

So, we requested the CM to convert this into a municipality, and we received  ₹66 crore for its development.

We have served the public well, and based on that, we have been seeking votes.

I believe that this time, the situation is very favourable, even though Mr Naidu remains a stalwart or a political veteran. However, this time, we are very confident that we will win.

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Q. What is your election pitch for this constituency? What are the issues you are fighting for?

A. Unfortunately, though it has been the CM’s constituency for long, people here are still not exposed to the kind of development that other CM constituencies have received.

The youth here, the local population, depend solely on Bengaluru, about 100 kilometres away. They travel there for work and then return to Kuppam.

Our main goal this time is to ensure that at least four to five major industries come up in Kuppam, generating local employment. This way, all the youth can find employment locally.

That is the main objective we are working towards.

Another issue is that Kuppam is situated between two state borders in a corner of the state, and we depend solely on rainwater. There is no other source of water.

So, we have requested our CM to ensure the construction of two temporary dams to accommodate water for irrigation and drinking purposes. Once constructed, these dams will ensure sufficient water supply.

We have also completed the HNS Canal, which brings in Krishna water. Once these dams are constructed, we aim to fill them with water from this canal, ensuring enough water is available for the Kuppam constituency.

Related: Naidu’s assets grow by 41 percent

Q. When Mr Naidu was arrested by the police last year, a sentiment grew across the state, and he is banking on it. Is a similar sentiment playing out in this constituency, and how do you perceive it?

A. As far as I can see, he hasn’t garnered any special sentiment from his constituency. However, I can say one thing: he is undoubtedly adept at managing legal matters. He has his team and has been navigating the legal system for 20-25 years. He has remained out of custody despite facing about 30-40 cases. He understands how the judiciary operates.

Even with this knowledge, there is a clear case against him regarding fraud in the skill development sector. After a thorough investigation, the CID has filed a case against him, which has now reached the courts. Despite significant efforts, he has been taken into custody.

The allegations against him have undeniable merit. The government will certainly establish its connection to the case. We are confident that if not today, then tomorrow, justice will prevail, and he will be held accountable for his actions.

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Q. In the 2019 election, the winning margin was around 30,000 votes. What steps are you taking to bridge this gap?

A. Unfortunately, that figure of 30,000 votes is not accurate, I would say. When my father competed as a YSRCP candidate, he suddenly fell ill. For the last month of the election, he was not available here. That’s when we stepped in.

Unfortunately, rumours spread that he would not be able to contest due to his life being at risk and all that. That’s where we lost that kind of margin.

After the election, considering the cadre we developed and the schemes our CM has implemented. In the local body elections, we won 19 out of 25 wards in Kuppam municipality, 75 out of 89 gram panchayats and 63 out of 65 block parishad seats.

If you consider all these votes together, we are plus 40,000, but we are not taking that into consideration.

However, regarding the gaps you are talking about today, we are confident that people have decided that we have to vote for change this time. We have to vote for something new. Let’s give these guys a chance and see what happens. That is the state of mind people are in today. We are pretty sure that with the kind of effort we are putting in, the hard work that is going on, and the enthusiasm with which our cadre is working today, we are very, very confident that this time, the YSRCP flag is going to be hoisted here.

(Edited by VVP Sharma)