Ghulam Nabi Azad yet again says, decision on Telangana, later…the delay continues…
Telangana – The Storm Brewing
Today marks the Andhra Pradesh foundation day and all the cabinet ministers from Telangana have stayed away, calling it a ‘Telangana betrayal day.’ While on one hand it is sad that regional politics has reached such a low, the fact is this is one promise gone wrong by the Congress since independence.
On November 1, 1956 the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed only after the merger of the then Hyderabad state, now referred to as Telangana. And the fact is the merger was conditional, that the interests of Telangana people will be protected.
What we have been seeing is that yet again the Congress will go back on its word. When the founder of Indian Constitution, the late Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had said large states need to be divided for easy governance, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were ear -marked to be divided. Thereon, began the call for separate Vidarbha and Telangana. These were long given promises, which for political reasons will not be fulfilled.
However, while the citizens will battle this issue passionately, what is worse, the methodology adopted by the policy makers to ensure that they procrastinate on decision-making for a separate state and then the conspiracy to show symbolically they care and then dump the issue in back burner.
While this is yet another Congress policy gone wrong, fact is even the BJP has played blow-hot-blow-cold with the separate Telangana issue. It is an excellent example of playing fire with peoples’ emotions. I will take a walk down memory lane with the whole formalising of the concept of a separate Telangana state.
The state formation was one daunting task for the erstwhile leaders just after Independence. While the rest of the world believed then and now, that Indian politicians will never be able to govern this country, the vastness being one top reason. It so happened, that in December 1953, the process for creation of states on linguistic lines began and the the States Reorganisation Commission was appointed.
Like I mentioned earlier some of the larger states were ear-marked to be divided either on linguistic lines or for easy governance. There was immense demand for the disintegration of Hyderabad state and hence the SRC recommended that the Hyderabad state be separated from the other two regions- Marathi speaking to be merged with the then- Bombay state and Kannada speaking region with the Mysore state. At the same time, the SRC showed its disapproval for a merger of Telegu speaking Telangana region of Hyderabad with the rest of Andhra State. Due to the public demand, although the language was common.
A few years later, January 19 1969, all parties agreed upon proper implementation of Telangana. The seeds for the separate Telangana movement were sown then and in fact there were instances of violence reported, as even police resorted to lathi-charge. A similar scene was unfolding in Belgaum, as the centre had attached Belgaum to Karnataka and Maharashtra politicians have always claimed that a majority of Marathi-speaking reside in Belgau, it should be merged with Maharashtra. These were troubled times in post-independent India.
Like in all case from Kashmir to down south and the east, the central government agreed upon a 6-point formula to solve the crisis on September21, 1973.
Not that Bharatiya Janta Party kept itself away in 1997; the BJP state unit passed a resolution seeking a separate Telangana. Then when the NDA team was in power at the centre, the Congress Working Committee suddenly woke up to the fact of formation of a separate Telangana. The Congress Working Committee passed a resolution asking the NDA to form a second SRC to address the demand for a separate state.
The erstwhile home minster LK Advani trashed it saying, “Smaller states were neither viable nor conducive to the integrity of the country.” In order to make the BJP stand clearer, in 2002, Advani wrote a letter to A Narendra, Telangana MP, rejecting a proposal to create Telangana state. He wrote, “Regional disparities in economic development could be tackled through planning and efficient use of available resources.”
In the midst of all this political jamboree, in 2001, the Telangana politician, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) formed a new party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), led by , was formed in 2001 with the single-point agenda of creating a separate Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital. The TRS has since then been keeping pressure to push forward the one-point agenda of a separate Telangana.
Congress however, after wanting to coming back to power in Andhra, after Chandra Babu first gave them a jolt, continued to play on people’s sentiments. Politicising regional sentiments has been one old strategy. And in 2004 elections, the Congress forged an electoral alliance with TRS promising ‘consideration’ of a separate state.
The year 2009 some important events took the issue through the ups and downs of political graph. In the 2009 elections, TRS could only win 10 assembly seats out of the 45 it contested and only two of its MPs were elected. However, on November 29, KCR initiated a fast-unto-death, putting the pressure on Congress party introduce a Telangana bill in Parliament. And KCR got all Opposition supported the call for a separate Telangana.
Meanwhile, the Congress and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen left it to the Congress high command to take a final decision. But then again, on December 9 2009, the then home minister, P Chidambaram announced that the centre would start the process of forming a separate Telangana state on the condition that a separation resolution in the Andhra Pradesh assembly is passed. Then the central again twisted demanding an-all party consensus in December that year. And by February 2010, five-member committee headed by Justice Sri Krishna to address the issue was appointed. The committee members spoke to people from every walk of life and were based in Andhra Pradesh, despite immense opposition.
On January 6 2011, all parties called a boycott led by TRS, BJP and TDP, while Chidambaram released the 505-pages Srikrishna committee report. Wherein six point formula was suggested. Separate state was deferred and suggested to provide certain definite constitutional and statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region.
However the regional parties will not let Congress forget its promise. A non-cooperation call was given on February 17, 2011 which lasted for 16 days wherein over 300,000 government employees participated causing a loss of Rs 8 billion of revenue per day to the government. Then on January 19, this year, the BJP led by State party president Kishan Reddy started the 22 day Telangana ‘Poru Yatra’, a journey of 3500km in Telangana.
In fact the recent in the Telangana march on September 30, turned very violent. Participants burnt media OB vans, statues of Telegu writers, artists, history figures were vandalised. Congress knows it is treading on thin ice and has little to retreat. To kill time and sooth the fires, meanwhile, the biggest share of MPs representing Andhra have been inducted in the recent cabinet reshuffle.
However, the fact is the blow-hot, blow cold by both the Congress and BJP on separate Telangana state is only going to make things worse. With citizens threatening to self-immolate, resorting to violence, which can result in uncontrollable political storm.