The state of Andhra Pradesh has been in turmoil for the past few moths over the Telangana issue. The big question that arises here is whether it is a good idea to divide the state, if divided what will happen to the other regions, and is it really worth all these agitations?
Telangana is a region in Andhra Pradesh in the South of India, lying on the Deccan Plateau west of the Eastern Ghats, with about 10 districts and two major rivers flowing through it. The name Telangana means “land of the telugu people”. Telangana is also the largest of all the three regions in the state, covering over 42% area and more than 40% people residing in those regions. This region alone brings about 76% of the state’s revenue.
The fight for a separate Telangana has been going on since the state itself was formed. Certain sections of people and political allies expressed dissatisfaction with the agreements and guarantees given when a separate state was formed and this agitation intensified in 1969 with students agitating at the Osmania University campus. Most political parties’ lent their support to these students leading to a movement called “Telangana Movement”, leading to widespread violence and a huge number of deaths especially among students. As the government refused to change its stand, a new party called Telangana People’s Association (Telangana Praja Samithi) was formed, led by Mr M Chenna Reddy. Though the party saw initial success, most of its members gave up the agitation and joined other safer parties and though Indira Gandhi was not too happy to divide the state, she conceded enough to make PV Narasimha Rao, the CM of the state, who belonged to Telangana. By 1972, a Telangana region was seen on the map separately.
Seeing this chaos in one section of the state, the other two regions also decided to take action and protests were carried out for a united Andhra leading to great tensions and Presidents rule being applied in the state. The issue was resolved for a while with the interference of the Central government, which came up with a Six-Point Formula, which agreed to setting up of a Central University at Hyderabad for educational facilities, dividing the entire region into six different parts so that jobs get easier among other things. Things seemed fine until BJP came to power and promised a separate state, which it did give to Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, but faced opposition in Andhra. But the supporters started a new party, called Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), with the sole purpose of creating a separate Telangana State led by K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). These supporters claimed that the Telangana region was not being developed even though most irrigation facilities come from here where as the Andhra region is excelling, also that the budget allocated to this region is being misappropriated. They said that all the allocations, promises, agreements, plans at the Lok Sabha were not honoured and Telangana was forced to remain backward and neglected.
By 2006, TRS withdrew its support to the government due to the Telangana issue and won a major election, continuing to pressure the government for a separate state of Telangana. By 2008, all the big names in most parties, stepped down from their positions in support for a separate state. In February 2009, things finally turned around and the government said it had no objection to a separate state being formed and a joint committee was formed to resolve any issues regarding it. The agitation for Telangana intensified when KCR went on a fast to death. He was joined by various party members and student bodies supporting his agitation. This led to utter chaos and turmoil in the state. There were constant bandhs, strikes, the entire region shut down for days, sometimes even the state coming to a standstill, which led the Union Home Minster to announce that the process for a separate state will be started soon.
There were those who celebrated and those who were stricken by the news. The supporters for a separate state rejoiced after hearing the HM’s statement while those in the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions started their protests. The fight is still on going with constant clashes, fights and deaths. The number of people who died because of this is staggering especially students. I think the Home Minster reacted too soon, giving in too early to the agitation. He should have waited for a little longer to see how things were going. Instead, he made things worse. Now there are more parties wanting other separate states. The setting up of a separate state is not going to come cheap too. The government will need to divert crores of rupees which it just does not have, even if it does, why not spend it on the people? Then the question of what will happen to Hyderabad will arise. It is the most developed city in the entire state with multi crores of rupees invested in its development. What will happen to all those jobs which the people from other regions will certainly lose if there is a separate Telanga? These are questions the government has obviously not thought about. Looks like they did not even think that there will be a number of students who would kill themselves because of all this chaos. It is time for the government to think seriously and make some decisions. Will we be seeing a united Andhra Pradesh or is the state in for much tougher times; we will just have a wait ad watch. The journey though is not going to be a pleasant one for the residents of the state either which way.
[Image courtesy: http://www.indiashots.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/unity_in_diversity_kolkata_india.jpg]