Telangana movement- where is it heading? డిసెంబర్ 4, 2009Posted by Telangana Utsav in 1969, Articles, bandh, Congress, Culture, Economy, elections, Fazal Ali Commission, Identity, livelihoods, Mulki, Osmania, politics, TDP, Telangana, TRS.
Telangana in limelight
G S Vasu
First Published : 04 Dec 2009 11:56:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 04 Dec 2009 12:50:36 AM IST
AS I watched over television on Sunday almost a dozen policemen beating up a lone student who fell to the ground on the Osmania University campus in Hyderabad, I was reminded of a short story written by former Prime Minister the late P V Narasimha Rao. Titled Golla Ramavva and written in the 1940s, it was about how an old woman sheltered a young Congress functionary in her thatched hut in Warangal district of the Telangana region when the Nizam’s policemen came looking for him. However, the students of OU, who were taking out a peaceful march seeking a separate Telangana state, had no such Guardian Angel.
Nine years after K Chandrasekhara Rao formed the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) with the objective of achieving a separate state of Telangana, the movement appears to have taken a decisive directional change, away from politicos to encompass a whole lot of other sections, mainly students and teachers. Over the past few days, three students committed suicide while a constable shot himself dead, hoping their deaths would end the perceived discrimination against the people of Telangana.
There are two ways in which one could look at the demand — either through the prism of TRS and what Rao and his men have done or not done since 2001 or independent of this. Let us look at both.
While none can take away the credit of bringing the issue to the limelight not only in the state but also at the national level from Rao, his fundamental mistake lay in complete reliance on political management to achieve the goal.
Within three years after forming the TRS, he was on Cloud Nine, sharing power with the Congress both in the state and at the Centre, having forged an alliance with it in the 2004 elections. Intoxicated by power, it took him two years to realise his folly and break out of the alliance as he came under pressure for ignoring the purpose for which he formed the TRS.
One fine morning in 2008, on the auspicious occasion of Dasara, Chandrababu Naidu of Telugu Desam Party, till then a strong votary of a united Andhra, declared support for a Telangana State. As a natural consequence, the TDP and the TRS came together during the 2009 polls which was rightly seen as opportunistic by the people. As the alliance bombed, both parted ways as quickly as they came together but with more rancour, and the TDP has since been silent on the demand.
As social scientist N Venugopal pointed out in the only English book brought out recently on Telangana, the TRS has never attempted to build a mass movement on issues concerning the region, whether it be projects taken up to benefit other regions by diverting water which should have been earmarked for Telangana or repatriation of non-local government employees in accordance with a formula laid down several years ago.
As someone who believes in himself, Rao has also utterly failed in building the party through village, mandal and district committees. Like most politicians, he too preferred his kin to sincere workers while allotting party tickets.
One might, therefore, wonder how the TRS has survived for nine years despite all the negative steps taken by Rao and why people moved in such large numbers when he wanted to launch a fast-unto-death a few days ago. The answer lies in what several political leaders, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi have said time and again: “We are conscious of people’s craving for a separate state.” For one to understand this craving, one has to look at it through the other prism — independent of TRS — and from a historical, social and economic perspective which could be repetitive for those in the know of things but all the same important to be mentioned here.
Most parts of Telangana were under the control of the Nizam as part of the Hyderabad state even after India achieved independence, and people faced the tyranny of Razakars for years. Then followed the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union and the constitution of the States’ Reorganisation Commission under the chairmanship of Justice Syed Fazl Ali. People of Telangana never wanted to be a part of Andhra State, and this is precisely what was recommended by Fazl Ali: that Telugu-speaking districts of the erstwhile Nizam dominion be carved out to form a Hyderabad state independent of the rest of the Andhra state.
That did not happen and a unified Telugu state came into being with what was called a gentlemen’s agreement to protect the interests of Telangana. Every bit of it relating to financial resources, water, jobs etc., was violated leading to a violent agitation for a separate state in the late ’60s in which more than 350 students and youth died. The party which had spearheaded the movement then won handsomely in parliamentary elections but ultimately merged with the Congress and the leaders who championed the cause went on to hold high positions including chief ministership.
Over the years, successive governments, including those headed by leaders from the region, did little to assuage the sense of alienation or deprivation among the people. Inappropriate it might be but I should mention here a brief conversation I had with the late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy during the April-May elections this year. He made it clear then that as long as he was at the helm, there was no question of yielding to the demand for a separate Telangana state. In fact, he did everything possible to weaken the TRS and the lapses of Rao only made YSR’s task easier. The TRS was split by “weaning” away quite a few legislators, and its candidates were bought over.
But that was like applying balm to a disease that requires a surgery. Two months after YSR’s death, the issue has come to haunt the powers-that-be once again. Critics of Chandrasekhara Rao described his indefinite fast as yet another “drama” enacted in connivance with the establishment to shore up his plummeting image. Whether Rao himself wanted it or not, his fast has attracted wider sections of people, till now inactive, to the movement. They have declared that they would carry it forward, irrespective of Chandrasekhara Rao.
The least the government should do is open a dialogue with the interested groups, something that the Pranab Mukherjee committee set up way back in 2004, promised but never did. The last and the right course always exists: hold a referendum and seal the issue once and for all. If and when a Telangana state is formed, the people won’t forget the contribution of police officers who ordered caning on the students. Because, it is that image of the student being brutally caned which has spurred the current movement, something KCR has not managed to achieve in nine years.
About the author: G S Vasu is Resident Editor, The New Indian Express (Andhra Pradesh) and is based in Hyderabad
source: new indian express December 4, 2009