Katipally Venkata Ramana Reddy, who became an MLA for the first time, and that too, by defeating the current CM Revanth Reddy and ex-CM K Chandrashekhar Rao from Kamareddy constituency in Telangana. Speaking to the Organiser’s Kunti Surender, he shares his thoughts, Excerpts:
How was your political journey and whom do you attribute success to being elected as BJP MLA?
Even though I had been in politics since the 1990s, following my election defeat as an MLA on the BJP ticket in 2018, I devised a three-point strategy – cadre strengthening, anti-BRS protests and voter polarisation. In addition to these, winning elections without the use of currency or liquor was one of my top priorities, and I succeeded by gaining the trust of voters. This win wasn’t about one person; it was about everyone coming together, powered by teamwork and pure heart and support of BJP leadership at State and Centre. I’ve only been away from my constituency six times in the last five years, and that was only for party work. I was always available to everyone, and my primary focus was understanding their problems and finding solutions or ways to address them.
As part of cadre strengthening, we began with a modest group of 40 people. However, our team steadily expanded, driven by individuals who believed in our cause, eventually reaching 400 members. We functioned as a close family, overcoming personal struggles together for years. In the final 100 days, our team experienced exponential growth, reaching 8,000 members. All these dedicated ‘karyakartas’ invested their efforts wholeheartedly in our mission, fuelled not by any expectations of favours but by their passion for the party. To maintain connectivity, we established village and area-specific communication groups called ‘Shakti Kendras’, allowing people to gather within a short notice. This approach not only surprised our political opponents but also caught the attention of the police department.
Anti-Government Agitations: Due to worst governance of BRS on issues relating to double bedrooms, Dharani (Digital Land Management System), employment, Kamareddy Master plan, paddy purchase, ration supply, pensions to old and elders, land encroachments, corruption, employment were always in discussion. The dissent against BRS ex-MLA Gampa Govardhan Reddy and Congress ex-MLA and Minister Shabbir Ali’s high handedness on welfare schemes, role in settlements, illegal and forgery land entitlement documents, and officer corruption was visible in every working area of the Government. Keeping this, I used to organise ‘Prajadharbars’, then I converted these issues into anti-Government agitations by bringing 1,000s victims into the forefront and media rather than myself or my team. Through these activities, slowly the masses thought that I can be trusted with my words and actions.
“My goal is to make Kamareddy a no-corruption zone, similar to the no-smoking, no-parking zones and ensure that corrupt officers leave or serve without bribes in my constituency”
Voter Polarisation: Once trust had been firmly established, I undertook an initiative to address voter polarisation, focusing specifically on temples. Our attention was drawn to nearly 700 incomplete temples linked to diverse communities. Issues like delay or pause in construction and disruptions in temple rituals due to various reasons came into notice. My team and I diligently tackled these issues, providing essential materials rather than direct financial assistance. My objective was to create a space for individuals seeking solace to express their wishes at temples, fostering a sense of satisfaction. This spiritual journey imbued them with divine courage, sparking a transformative process that endured for a decade. Regular visits to temples and prayers became a source of inspiration, bolstering self-esteem and instilling a belief in the omnipresence of God, empowering individuals to pursue their aspirations.
What are your plans for the next five years as MLA and your role in State BJP politics?
As an MLA, I will ensure that the primary concerns like ration cards, pensions, land passbooks, Housing (‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’) reach the needy of my constituency. In addition to this, my goal is to make Kamareddy a no-corruption zone, similar to the no-smoking, no-parking zones and ensure that corrupt officers leave or serve without bribes in my constituency. Once the voter is not bribed with liquor or money, he will be aggressive and question the wrongdoers with a sense of pride and strong courage against the administration, if things go wrong. When people spend their own money and avoid corruption, they have every right to be a strong voice.
I will also try to maintain a positive approach to CM for funds, but if failed to get the desired results, then will go back to agitation mode as done by BRS. We, as the BJP party, also have access to the Central Government for funds. I am available to work for a party on any given assignment. It is up to the party to decide. I have good vision and clarity on the work at hand.
Recently, members of banned terrorist organisation, PFI, were caught by NIA in Nizamabad, an MP constituency where your Assembly is part of it. How do you look into these radical Islamic elements?
This issue, in my opinion, is linked to poverty and bad elements in society, who indoctrinate these Muslims to take anti-social and anti-national stands. The common Muslim is becoming a victim of radical Islam. Poverty among Muslims is also noticeable, despite the fact that some well-to-do Muslims were brainwashed at a young age and who operate in the guise of doctors and students of prestigious universities. When Muslims are in crisis, these Islamic radical elements reach out to them and console them, then influence them towards radicalism for years. I believe removing poverty and good education will keep them away from radicalisation.
Who is your inspiration?
My father Raja Reddy’s 25-year career as a Samiti president in 60 and 70s, wielding influence akin to two MLAs, spanned diverse political landscapes influenced me to get into politics. NTR’s administrative restructuring, welfare schemes, Advaniji’s Ram Janmabhoomi Rath Yatra emboldening Hindus, Modiji’s slogan of development have all influenced my political thoughts.
What’s the significance of Shivaji’s statue beyond its symbolic representation next to you?
While the statue embodies Shivaji’s legacy as a defender of ‘Dharma’ and founder of a powerful kingdom, I believe its true significance lies in its message of social responsibility and community service. He built his empire on principles of respecting diverse faiths and promoting education-values which are as relevant today. Instead of dwelling on self-gain at every turn, we should think in terms of societal well-being. Many people, when moving to cities after growing up in villages, disconnect from their roots and neglect their communities. This is where Shivaji’s example holds weight. He dedicated himself to his people, regardless of his position. It’s not about relying on MLA or MP funds – professionals like doctors, engineers, and educators can all contribute directly to the welfare of their villages, even with a small portion of their income. Just imagine the impact if everyone gave back to where they came from! The village might change as much as Shivaji did, for the better.