Madhu Goud Yaskhi is two-time Congress MP from Nizamabad who returned to India in 2004 to successfully contest elections in 2004. Nizamabad is part of the state of Telangana. Yaski looks after Congress Overseas Cell and is Secretary in charge of Karnataka. In an interview with WION, Yaski says that earlier when PM’s went abroad, they went as Indians, but Narendra Modi makes his foreign trips all about his own party. Edited excerpts
Q: Of late Congress has shown a lot of interest in reorganising its overseas Indian cell?
A: We could see the potential of overseas Indians. They have a lot to contribute. There exists a diaspora impact in India especially in states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat. There is another issue. When MPs would visit foreign countries, we were specifically told by MEA that you represent your country and not the party. It has been changed by Modi. Whenever he meets the Indian diaspora, he toes the party line. Diaspora has been politicised. Diaspora also helped BJP win 2014 elections. Our estimate is that 500 diaspora IT professionals came to Ahmedabad to help BJP in Lok Sabha elections.
Q: BJP has the first mover advantage. They are well organised and have functioning units abroad? PM’s interaction with NRIs is also far more frequent than Congress President.
A: BJP took advantage of anti-Islamic sentiments which is prevalent globally. They convinced the diaspora that Congress empowerment of minorities was an appeasement which wasn’t the case. I would say that nothing much has been done for the NRIs in this present dispensation. Many NRIs lost money because of DeMo as they could not travel back under the specified time. Even today there is no visa online. Please don’t go on the scale. Rahul Gandhi's tour to the United States was very well received.
Q: What are the prospects of Congress Party in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh?
A: We are fighting fit in Telangana. We will defeat TRS in the next assembly elections. In Andhra Pradesh, our vote share has gone up from 3 per cent to 12 per cent. There is some resentment over the fact that special status was not accorded to the state. So, we will still play an important role in AP. In Telangana, people don’t hate us. We will come back to power in the state.
Q: Is there a possibility of an alliance with TRS in Telangana?
A: Absolutely not. We may have a tie-up with smaller parties. TRS is the B Team of BJP. They have supported BJP on every issue. They have supported BJP on issues which were not openly supported by their own alliance partners. BJP meanwhile felt that they will make in-roads in Telangana which has not happened. Telangana is a badly governed state and we will on our own strength defeat TRS.
Q: Andhra Pradesh is still a problem area for the Congress. People still blame you for the division of the state. What do you have to say?
A: We came back to power in Punjab after Operation BlueStar. It will take some time in AP, but we will come back. BJP and TDP also participated in the creation of Telangana. Yes, people were angry with us, but they aren’t now as they realise that both BJP and TDP participated in the process of creation of Telangana. We will not align with anyone. We will also not align with Jagan Mohan Reddy. He is arrogant and supports BJP.