The Telangana bluff : Kancha Ilaiah జనవరి 1, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in agitation, Andhra, BCs, BJP, Congress, Culture, fast, Hyderabad, Identity, JAC, KCR, Mulki, politics, Rayalaseema, regionalism, SC, Sonia, students, TDP, Telangana, TRS, universities, youth, YSR.
The Telangana bluff
Deccan Chronicle, January 1st, 2010
By Kancha Ilaiah
The Congress’ response to the Telangana agitation that flared up with the “un-Gandhian” fast of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, was on expected lines.
When the fast was taken up, the Congress high command was facing a rebellion by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, son of Andhra Pradesh’s late chief minister, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. If he split the party, there was the possibility of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu cobbling up a government with KCR’s support. Mr Naidu would then have managed to establish a rapport with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and this would have become a problem for the Congress at the national level too.
Though Mr Chandrasekhar Rao was about to call off his hunger strike after reaching an understanding with chief minister K. Rosaiah, his agitation was overtaken by other events. The militant students’ agitation made him continue his “half hunger strike” in the best hospital in the state, Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences. In the end, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao emerged as a hero as there were all kinds of forces willing to agitate for a separate state of Telangana.
The Congress high command, at the same time, wanted to use that occasion to break the back of Mr Jagan’s group and foil Mr Naidu’s plans. With this in mind, Union home minister P. Chidambaram made a strategic statement (though Mr Chandrasekhar Rao was willing to shift from bottle-feeding to mouth-feeding) on December 9 that the Centre was initiating the process to form a separate Telangana.
His statement was not meant to create Telangana state but to test the nerves of all those political formations that were pretending to support the idea of small states — particularly the TDP and the Praja Rajyam.
The Congress knew that Andhra and Rayalaseema MLAs and MPs would oppose the formation of Telangana. For it the more significant problem was the large group of MLAs and ministers, cutting across regions, who were supporting Mr Jagan.
Once Mr Chidamabaram made his statement, Mr Jagan’s support base cracked on regional lines, as did that of the TDP.
Of course, the Congress structure in the state also appeared to have developed cracks but the Central leaders knew that this was a temporary phenomenon. That there was no Congress leadership in Telangana region that would pose a major challenge to the high command was all too well known.
After YSR’s death the state has been moving from one crisis to another and the most humiliating one was when Mr Jagan threatened to become the chief minister of the state. The only way to get out of that crisis was to deepen the Telangana question and defuse all other tensions. Mr Chidambaram’s statement of December 9 must be seen in that background.
All hell broke loose in the state after his statement. Mr Naidu became a sitting duck and Mr Jagan was made to sit at home, without a single follower. And all around the country demands for smaller states were revived.
This broke the consensus among various parties about the formation of Telangana, even within the United Progressive Alliance.
The BJP too had to shut its mouth on its pet theory of smaller states as its big capitalist supporters started opposing this proposition. Andhra capitalists sent enough signals to political parties, including to the BJP, that they should not expect any more funds if they support the formation of Telangana. The Andhra lobby did everything possible to get the decision reversed as their interests in Hyderabad were at stake. And the Congress, of course, was only too willing to oblige.
The Congress core committee reworked its strategy and Mr Chidambaram himself made another statement saying that the situation had altered and more consultation and consensus was needed to form Telangana. And with this, the issue of Telangana was brought back to square one.
Since all political parties have all along been split on regional basis, the TRS gained ground and initiated the agitational through the Telangana joint action committee.
This is now resulting in enormous repression of the students and youth and destruction of Telangana public property. The poor and first-generation students, who have reached university level, will be the victims in all this.
Though destruction of public property is self-destructive, it is a regular Indian mode of protest and leaders such as Mr Chandrasekhar Rao, who is unlike Mahatma Gandhi in every respect, would push the situation to the logical end.
Indian democracy remains semi-feudal because it has not been able to evolve mature methods of protest. There is a general feeling that without such destructive forms of protests, the state would not even listen.
It now appears that the Centre will allow the agitators to go on till they are tired. The basic question before them is how to handle Mr Chandrasekhar Rao — either in the Chenna Reddy way or in the Shibu Soren way.
They also know that as they wait for the protesters to tire and calm down, the people of Telangana would starve in unprecedented drought conditions and not have the energy to protest. The more hunger strikes and suicides, the more they get tired of such agitations.
Andhra forces and Central agencies knew that a new talent was emerging from the Telangana region — particularly from the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) — and that they could be stopped in their tracks with the loss of one academic year.
Also, if we look at the configuration of the Joint Action Committee of Telangana, it’s clear that leaders from some castes have captured its nerve centre. All the SC, ST, and OBC leaders who built the Telangana movement have been pushed to the background. Gaddar, Jayshankar and Manda Krishna Madiga are marginalised for obvious reasons.
In this society, regional agitations are most suited for stopping social transformation as these agitations create mass hysteria. In Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema enough mass hysteria has been generated in recent times.
Many are willing to die while facing bullets or by committing suicide. We can only wait and see what will happen to the starving masses in this difficult situation.