The Telangana issue dominated the media and the winter session of the Parliament distracting attentions from the Liberhan report. Whether Telangana issue was deliberately raised and TRS Chief Chandrasekhara Rao was persuaded to go on indefinite fast, some question.
Has the midnight statement of the union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on December 9, 2009: “process of separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh will be initiated soon" fulfilled the four decade long dreams of Telangana people? What about the demands of those living, for example, in Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, if the answer is yes?
KCR Went On Successful Hunger Strike
There are always some perceived reasons for any movement may it be political or public. The failure of Andhra Pradesh State to implement the Gentleman’s Agreement 1956 is said to be the important cause behind the demand of a separate Telangana state. The agreement done between Telangana and Andhra leaders before formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh provides safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
But, with the exception of Hyderabad all the other districts of Telangana region: Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal remains to be among the least developed areas of the country. Rampant poverty, illiteracy, malnourished children, child labour, farmer suicides, unemployment, electricity shortage and water scarcity constitute some of the problems of this region.
On December 6, 1968 students took out a procession from Vivek Vardhini College in Hyderabad demanding a fair implementation of the 1956 agreement. The discontent intensified in January 1969. It was later known as the Telangana Movement 1969 which led to widespread violence across Telangana and deaths of hundreds of people and students of the region. The movement for a separate Telangana state witnessed several ups and downs. (Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen also promised to support the cause keeping in mind the interests of the Muslim community.) It got reinforced in 1990s when Bharatiya Janata Party promised for a separate Telangana state provided the party came to power. As per the promise, BJP created Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand states in year 2000. But it could not live up to the promise about Telangana state because of the opposition from its coalition partner.
To press for the demand of separate state of Telangana, K. Chandrasekhar Rao formed Telangana Rashtra Samiti at Hyderabad in April 2001. The party created a sensation by winning one third of Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTC) and one quarter of Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTC) in Siddipet within sixty days of its formation. In the 2004 assembly elections, the TRS formed an alliance with Congress and won 26 state assembly seats. The party also won 5 parliament seats at the national level. It joined the governments at both state and central level. In September 2006 the party withdrew support for the centre on the grounds of indecision by the government over the delivery of its electoral promise to create Telangana, which was also put in the Common Minimum Program (CMP).
The timing of the Telangana announcement of P. Chidambaram raises questions. It diverted attention from the Liberhan commission report over Babri Masjid demolition. It constitutes merely one example as to how the Congress facilitates for the culprits of the demolition to escape punishment. After 17-year long hiatus the report was presented giving clean chit to the late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, who undoubtedly was instrumental in the case, and indicting Atal Bihari Vajpayee without giving him any chance to defend himself.
There was the news that Ranganath Mishra commission report would be presented in the Parliament for debate. To avoid embarrassment, Congress has once again promised to table the report on December 21. But it is no less than a mockery with minorities for whom the report recommends 15% reservation in education and employment. One day does not seem enough for debate on the report and the subsequent approval with the opposition BJP strongly resisting any reservation based on caste or religion.
If there is wide coverage to anything, then it is Telangana issue which sparkled after the fast-unto-death by TRS chief Chandrasekhar Rao.
Some doubt whether Rao’s 11-day fast was his own decision for the sake of Telangana or he was persuaded to do so. In the wake of the TRS’s defeat in the assembly elections 2009, there were rumours that people had taught him a lesson because of his greediness to money and power and not sticking to original agenda of getting Telangana as a State. Whatever may be reality, he has now become hero of Telangana.
It seems as if Congress, by the announcement, has not only pacified the anger of Telangana people esteeming out of Congress’s inability to live up to its words to create a separate Telangana but also managed to check the possibility of emerging any great leader like that of Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy.
The protests by non-Telangana MLAs and MPs, including those from Congress, can give the party an apparently valid reason for “not hurrying” in the issue. Whenever the state is bifurcated, Congress and Rao will be the benefiting politically from it. No wonder if BJP curses itself as its rival Congress seems to have snatched the opportunity from its hands of luring voters to ensure a saffron-supported rule in the state.
Locals Demand For Separate Telangana
The way to carve-up of new Telangana state is almost clear. The state’s major parties-Congress, Telgu Desam Party and TRC are among the supporters for demand. Pressures have been made on the opposition leader in the assembly N Chandrababu Naidu to support Telangana demand as the party had made a promise to do so. The resolution to the effect in the Parliament will also not face much resistance. The Congress MPs now raising hue and cry cannot go against the high command. BJP have been believing in smaller states’ strategy.
Mayawati wrote a letter to PM Manmohan Singh for splitting UP into three more states: Bundelkhand, Paschimanchal and Poorvanchal. Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has once again put a demand for Gorkhaland to be carved out of Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal. Congress MP Vilas Matamwar too has demanded a Vidharba state in Maharashtra and BJP leader Jaswant Singh a Maro Pradesh in Rajasthan. Their demands have intensified in the wake of the announcement for separate Telangana. On the same time, they never opposed the move.
If present scenario is any indication to the future happenings, Congress will manage the support of TRS in the separate Telangana. Might be TRC and INC will be merged. To what extent may be the hold of Rao in the would-be Telangana, he would lag behind the popularity of Y. S. Reddy.
It was Reddy who, despite the incumbency factor, won INC a startling majority of 156 seats (out of total 294) in state assembly elections 2009 and 33 out of the total 42 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. He was the first leader of the Congress who sought votes in his own names. Some opine that the tall Reddy would have been a challenge to Rahul Gandhi. However, for now, the matter is quite different.
Commenting on the nod by Congress for separate Telangana state, an English daily writes, “If party insiders are to be believed, it was not so much to placate fasting TRS leader K Chandrasekhara Rao as to ensure that the Congress gets a good number of Lok Sabha seats in 2014 polls when Rahul Gandhi intends to assume the high office.” The assurance that Sonia Gandhi gave to the coastal region MPs “I have taken the decision in national interests.” the report says, “National interest should be read as Rahul becoming prime minister.”
What the report reveals is also the summary of the whole Telangana issue: the purpose of Congress to instigate the issue is to attain political gains and that the party is more concerned about its own interests-Rahul as PM- instead of people’s welfare and their demands.
By: A Hameed Yousuf