Telangana issue is back on the boil. The demand for a separate state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh has gained momentum. Several days of the assembly’s monsoon session were lost to the issue. The Congress state government has been pressurized to come up with an immediate acceptable solution.
Resolution For Telangana Demanded
The Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, which has spearheaded the movement since 2001, demanded that a resolution to create Telangana be passed in the assembly. Such a possibility, however, was ruled out by the state Chief Minister Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy. The CM said that majority members in the assembly belong to Seemandhra and though resolution is passed, it is sure to be defeated.
Mr. Reddy said that it was up to the centre to decide over the issue and they have to consider many issues. The interest of the state and the country are to be kept in mind before taking any decision as the government has the responsibility of protecting the interest of the people, he said adding that nobody could influence the centre to take a decision to divide the state.
To press for their demands, the pro-Telangana parties and groups will be holding a Telangana March on September 30. A similar event last year resulted in violence; protestors desecrated and vandalised the statues of cultural icons on Necklace Road.
For long the demand for separate state of Telangana is made. But the government did not budge to it. This time, Telangana leaders say, it will be a fight to the finish.
The agreement of the Congress over splitting Andhra, however, will lead to intensified demands by the separatist movements throughout India.
More Political Support For Telangana
Interestingly, the positions of political parties have also changed in the last few months, giving a fillip to the Telangana demand. Now, almost all the non-Congress parties are advocating for Telangana.
The Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP’s) N. Chandrababu Naidu has finally decided to support the Telangana demand after numerous flip-flops. The YSR Congress Party, floated by Jaganmohan Reddy, which initially stood for a united Andhra but has now come around. The growing influence of BJP in parts of central Telangana is also working up the sentiment for a separate state again.
The BJP has again promised a separate Telangana if NDA is voted to power. The senior leader L.K. Advani recently said that the party will include the promise to create Telangana in its Lok Sabha manifesto and would fulfil it as soon as possible.
He said that the NDA regime which created Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand as part of fulfilling its poll promise would have created Telangana too if it had been included in the manifesto in the 1999 election.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has even offered to merge with the Congress if a separate Telangana state is declared. The Congress is bewildered. It could be a chance for the Congress to lay claim to power in the proposed state and make up for the losses in the rest of Andhra Pradesh, where it is expected to perform badly in the 2014 elections.
Nevertheless, the party legislators and MPs from the coastal districts and Rayalaseema are threatening to resign if the state is bifurcated.
All Party Meet On The Issue
According to the reports, the Congress at centre is preparing for an all party meeting on the issue. It summoned the Governor ESL Narasimhan and the Chief Minister Reddy for discussions on the vexatious issue of Statehood for Telangana. This followed a meeting of Sonia Gandhi with the party core committee members on the issue.
Earlier, 13 cabinet ministers from Telangana had demanded in a letter to Gandhi an immediate solution to the problem. The decision should favour and respect the sentiments of the four crore people of the region, they had urged.
Drawing Attention of International Community
The decision of the Telangana Joint Action Committee to hold the march on September 30 is said to be an attempt to draw the international attention to the issue. Just a day before the march Hyderabad hosts the much-awaited UN conference on biodiversity on September, set to be attended by 4,000 delegates from 180 countries all over the world.
Apart from the Chief Minister, the Governor also personally urged TJAC to postpone the march to some other day.
TJAC convener Kodanda Ram said that there was no question of rethinking the date of the march. He, however, said that the “march will be peaceful and it will be a reflection of sentiments of the Telangana people”.
Kodanda Ram alleged that some sections may try and foment trouble during the march.
TJAC leaders have said that only way of putting off the march was that the Centre should make a positive move on the Telangana issue immediately.
Telangana Movement Weakening?
Political analysts, however, feel that Telangana sentiment has actually fizzled out and that the Telangana March on September 30 is a desperate bid to corner the ruling Congress on the eve of the international bio-diversity meet. They point to the bickering between TJAC and TRS, both keen to gain the upper hand.
In the process, the Telangana movement has lost steam and direction. The TRS wants total control over the agitation while TJAC is chalking out its own course.
TRS President K. Chandrasekhar Rao is apparently unhappy with the TJAC for cornering all the credit for leading the Telangana agitation last year. So when the TJAC announced that it would relaunch the agitation with the Telangana March, KCR reportedly tried to scuttle such plans by announcing in public that he had been assured by the Centre that a separate Telangana state would be declared “very soon”, and if that did not happen then there would be total anarchy in Telangana.
The TJAC’s convenor, M. Kodandaram, a political science professor at Osmania University and a mentor for the thousands of Telangana students, and KCR do not see eye to eye anymore. The demise of Telangana ideologue K. Jayashankar last June and the decline of balladeer G. Vittal Rao, popularly known as Gaddar, as well as last year’s agitation “fatigue” have slowed down the movement.
(With inputs from Sreenivas Janyala’s report “Telangana Reloaded” in The Indian Express).