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Nature of Telangana movement & vision for Separate Telangana- Prof Rama Melkote జూలై 19, 2013

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in 1969, Economy, Identity, politics, regionalism, Telangana, TRS.
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What next?

The disillusionment is now total. Some of us had our own doubts about any decision by the Congress now. Yet there was a flicker of hope. I feared more suicides when no decision was taken. And it has happened, I hear.

I would like to share some of my thoughts on the issue.

In all our innocence, we believed that the Congress will keep up its promise of granting Telangana. Time and again we have been deceived. One only has to look at the history of the Congress party, more particularly since the seventies. It has played politics in the most undemocratic way, never kept up its promises, used repressive methods to curb dissent, suppressed social movements, promulgated more and more repressive laws to deal with the ‘naxalites’ all in the name of security. Claiming to be a secular party, it did not hesitate to use the police, the army against a community, the Sikhs. The destruction of Babri Masjid is a blot on the Nation and its secular constitution. It’s so called anti poverty, populist policies eventually ended up in neo liberal policies, in politics of globalization. In every way, the secular, democratic principles of the Constitution of India have been systematically violated. However, we cannot ignore the fact that it is the peoples struggles that have opposed the repressive State to sustain democracy, rights and freedom of the people, at least to some extent.

I think we need to understand the Congress party’s position in the case of Telangana. We all know the history, the marginalization of Telangana after the merger with the Andhra State. The two different trajectories of the rise of the ruling elite in Telangana and the Andhra region need to be understood. The rise of a confident, economically powerful elite/ bourgeoisie in the Andhra for various reasons, its assertion as a class, its demand for its own state in the name of Telugu identity, the demand for Visahalandhra, point out to its ability to assert itself politically. In Telangana, the people’s struggle for their rights, the anti feudal, peasant armed struggle, the police/ army action eventually led to the ‘independent’ state of Telangana. What was the nature of the ruling elite/class in Telangana? It was not economically powerful nor was it a politically assertive class. It could have become one, evolved into a bourgeois elite, if the merger to form the State of Andhra Pradesh had not taken place. It is this weakness of the T elite, its subservience to the Andhra elite that is manifest even to this day. What else can explain their refusal to resign from the government and align with the peoples struggle? The desire for retaining political power, even as a subservient ally of the Andhra ruling class is closely linked to their own financial interests. I think we need to factor these into our analysis of the present situation.

We need not go into the history of the emergence of YSRCP and the financial links of the Congress Party with the Andhra ruling class. This is well known. However it is extremely important in my view, to expose these issues and linkages between the two ruling elites, one dominant and the other subservient, and the strangle hold of the financial power over the Congress Party.

Nevertheless, the Congress party faces a dilemma today, given the force of the Telangana movement. The BJP which is a party that supports the T movement would only be too happy if the Congress party fails to declare Telangana State as it can sanction the same, if and when it comes to power. But will it come to power?

We seem to have little choice between the BJP and the Congress. It is of course a party that supports Telangana. Yet, its politics, its role in Gujarat carnage, the corruption that its government in Karnataka was involved in, the leader that it is promoting now, Mr. Narendra Modi, all do not augur well for the Nation, despite the fact that it claims to be a national party. It has no ideological framework barring some form of Hindutwa, has no economic policy framework. It supports neo liberal policies of globalization combined with a kind of dangerous cultural nationalism. How does Telangana fit into this?

Let us move away for a while from party politics. Here I would like to refer to Prof. Rasheeduddin Khan’s concept of the federal nation which is seminally important in comprehending the process of autonomy and integration. The federal nation, by implication, is essentially a territorial, political concept in which primary emphasis is placed on the construction of regional or territorial communities. “In other words, the federal nation provides territorial expression to the core creed of democracy and pluralism.” Regionalism signifies the existence of a regional community, a community of identifiable characteristics, for which regionalism is an ideology, an agenda and a method of federal protest. The basic objective of sub regionalism is ensuring a fair and equitable share of partnership in the political power structure and economic resources of the State. Region and regionalism as Alyoshius points out, are in many ways prior to Nation and nationalism. They are more natural and normal phenomenon. Regionalism revolves around language and literary imagination and other issues of history, culture and religion are legitimated in relation to language. In these processes are implicated issues of caste, class and community and the processes of development.

The Telangana was historically a region by itself for over four hundred years. This region as it evolved historically consisted of Telangana, Marathwada and Karnataka districts as the Nizam’s Dominion. Until 1956, they constituted the Hyderabad State as a multi lingual, multi religious region. The history of its merger with the Andhra State in 1956 and later the rise of the movement for ‘demerger’, for the separate State of Telangana since the 1969 are too well known and need not be narrated here. The merger of the two Telugu speaking regions, the hegemonic exercise of power thereafter by the dominant Andhra elite along with the week and subservient Telangana elite has led to a certain pattern of development that was city centric and that systematically destroyed agriculture and rural areas of Telangana resulting in loss of employment and livelihoods. It must be underscored that development is not only regional and spatial but social. The benefits of development must have a social dimension in the sense of reaching out to the least denominator in the social hierarchy. It is for this reason that the Telangana movement raises crucial questions with regard to the development paradigm itself. The injustices experienced by the people of Telangana are regional in the sense of one region exploiting the other, ‘internal colonialism’, are spatial, in the sense of the natural resources of one region being exploited for the benefit of the other, and social as the exploited sections belong to the most marginalized- the Adivasis, Dalits and minorities.

In such a situation, any party that claims to undo the wrongs and fight for Telangana must have a clear ideology, a clear framework of sustainable development and an inclusive secular democracy. It is most unfortunate that in today’s politics, political parties hardly have an ideology, a manifesto worth the name, if they do, it is not for implementation when they come to power. The stranglehold of money power over politics and everyday life is such that democracy and democratic norms ingrained in our constitution, constitutional morality, so dear to Ambedkar are losing their salience.

In this context, we need to ask ourselves as to what the nature of the Telangana movement is and what is the vision of the emerging Telangana State?

As for the nature of the T movement, perhaps no peoples movement has been so democratic and so non violent. Since the year 2009, there have been no incidents of violence against the Andhra people. Every time the government failed to keep up its promise, the movement worked out new strategies without resorting to violence. The most tragic part about the movement is suicides by students, and other common people committed to Telangana. What can one do to prevent these unnecessary deaths? While suicide has been a form of political protest since the days of the Vietnam war when Budhist monks self immolated, when civil rights activists resorted to suicides, the numbers have never been so high as for the Telangana movement. During the Telangana armed struggle, people fought bravely and there were no suicides. Today the nature of the State is such that it’s repressive nature and armed power gives little hope to the people. Yet they continue to fight. The democratic nature of the T movement is evident from the wide spread peoples participation and the representative JACs. The TJAC and the TRS are the two faces of the movement and we must acknowledge the indispensability of both. One is representative of the people, of the civil society groups, the other is the political expression of the movement in the form of a Political Party, so essential to the very functioning of modern democracies. This distinction between the TJAC and the TRS are crucial and must be maintained. However, they must act together, must consult each other and work out strategies without letting personality conflicts and ego problems coming in the way for the achievement of Telangana.

Crucial to this understanding of the Telangana movement is the question—What is the vision of TJAC for future Telangana State? What is the vision of TRS? Are they different, are they conflictual? While it is true that the energies of both are consumed by working out strategies for Telangana now, it is equally important to work out a vision and put it for the public now to assuage the fears of various sections within Telangana. It is here that the vision of Telangana must make a shift and present a development paradigm that is people oriented and an inclusive development. This needs to be debated and worked out.

Lastly, the question —what now?

If sense dawns upon the Congress party [doubtful though], it might declare Telangana State. If it does not, we need to prepare for elections. What kind of alliances can we make in this context? In my view, the TRS must align itself with the Communist Party of India, even if it is a late supporter of the Telangana demand, with CPI ML, New Democracy which is a part of the TJAC, all Muslim groups which are for T. The TJAC must bring together all progressive groups, intellectuals in support of such an alliance. A vision for Telangana must be able to bring together the Dalits, the Muslim community and all other minorities, the Adivasis. The TRS and its leader must play their cards carefully and form an alliance with all the progressive forces and win the elections.

It should not merge with the Congress as such a merger would defeat the purpose, the very vision of Telangana. The Congress party with its neo liberal ideology will continue the erstwhile State under a different name. The vision of Telangana where distributive justice will prevail where development will not destroy agriculture, where corporatisation of agriculture and industry will not destroy environment, where rights of Dalits, minorities, and Adivasis to education, health and livelihoods will be protected, where gender justice will prevail—is fully in conformity with the constitution of India. It is the duty of the new rulers to protect such a vision and the principles of the Constitution of India.

Rama Melkote


1. telanganaprajasamiti - ఫిబ్రవరి 28, 2014

Hi I would like to point out a few discrepancies in your history of Telangana
1. The Telangana Praja Samithi was founded by 3 people, Pratap Kishore, Raghuveer Rao and PN Swamy
2. The idea of Telangana state was first raised by Pratap Kishore, and he the Founder convenor of Telangana Praja Samithi
3. The founders nominated A Madan Mohan as the President only after the Telangana Movement took off
4. In 1970 M. Chenna Reddy got into Telangana Praja Samithi, through the back door
5. The fight for Telangana was a continuous struggle carried on by Pratap Kishore, EV Padmanabhan, Vande Mataram Ram Chander Rao, and MANY OTHERS FROM THE 1970’s right up now

For further details I can help you with Press coverage/clippings and photographic evidence



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