United We Stand, Divided We Fall: The Andhra Saga

  • SumoMe

The game of politics is a dirty one; here the tenants of democracy are casually ignored, and we the people are simply treated as dispensable pawns that bring glory to the kings and queens. So, as time passes by and India proudly surpasses one year after another of being a constitutionalised democracy, the muck and murk of its working keeps being veiled behind the curtains of development even though its consequences remain evidently visible. The desire for political prominence is so much that in the rat race for power and profit the reason for democracy i.e. the well-being of the common man gets trampled. Today the plight is such that while we suffer endlessly, political forces enjoy the view to the fullest and turn a deaf ear to our cries, heeding to us only when elections come knocking.

The ongoing Telangana uprising is a blatant example of this Indian political saga.

Telangana has been a conflicted province ever since the Congress government forcibly merged it with Andhra to form Andhra Pradesh in 1956. However, the fate of the state was not even remotely close to the happily ever after fable the Government had hoped it would be, for in 1969 demands for a separate state of Telangana began surfacing. The reasons were many – the Telanganas were discriminated against, and the terms of the Gentlemen’s agreement between the leaders of Andhra and Telangana, which was formulated to safeguard the interests of Telangana, were overlooked. The 1969 circus could not go on for long; it was easily pushed aside by both Congress leaders and the greed of Telangana and Andhra leaders who were drooling over the prospect of governing a large state.

However this time around, 53 years after the formation of the state, the political will of the leaders has finally been regarded – thanks to K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the president and founder of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party. By the way, K.C. Rao is not a novice; rather, he is the hurricane that has rocked the entire country, especially the Congress center, with his Gandhian attitude. His fast-unto-death skit accompanied by violence in Andhra left the center jittery, so much so, that it finally gave in to the divisional demands. As a result, soon India will consist of 29 states instead of 28, and when Telangana will eventually emerge, K.C. Rao along with his accomplices will become the heroic freedom fighter, thus ruling the state for years to come.

A deeper look into all this and you are bound to realise that these Telangana leaders, K.C. Rao in particular, aren’t protesting out of love for their state, or even because of the injustice inflicted upon their people. Rather this pretended Gandhian stint is Rao’s ticket to a greater political might. Let us review- K.C. Rao, who was once member of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), established TRS in 2001 after his attempts to secure a place in the cabinet failed. Even after his party formed, Rao was unable to achieve any political gains with either the NDA or the UPA in the 2009 general elections. With only two MP’s in his party, the fight for Telangana not only makes him a great leader for Telanganas but also gives him and his party a chance to be the supreme rule once the state of Andhra Pradesh splits.

In retrospect, it would be unethical if others behind the Andhra anarchy do not get a mention. Why let the buck stop here, when there are many others who deserve the limelight.

In 1953, when the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) report was presented, it clearly said that while leaders in Andhra are in favour of a combined state, people in Telangana are yet to form a strong opinion. The SRC also suggested that the merger of these two districts to form a unified Andhra Pradesh should be stalled until the general election of 1961 where the 2/3rd majority of the state of Hyderabad legislature would decide upon the matter. Unfortunately, for Telangana the then Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ignored the report, and gave a nod to the creation of the state. However, the Congress chronicles do not end here; during the 2004 elections, it made an alliance with the TRS on the promise that the Congress would help in a creation of a separate Telangana state. India’s premier political party of course did not keep its promise and as a result, its alliance party withdrew support two years later.

Back in present times, conditions in Andhra are far from stable. The central Government (read Congress) is dilly-dallying from its stand of creating a separate state, leaving Andhra Pradesh in turmoil. Amidst the violence and the bandhs, which have now become traits of the state, more important questions, especially those pertaining to the future of Telangana and Andhra have been subdued. One of them is the issue of Hyderabad, which not only serves as the capital of Andhra Pradesh, but also is the heart of Telangana, thus rendering it in extreme complexities. The city of Nawabs is the lifeline of Telangana as the arid province is neither suited for agriculture, nor is it prosperous in any other sense. On the other hand, if Hyderabad is proclaimed the capital of an independent Telangana, which is more or less given, the prosperity of Andhra and Andhraites will be lost. Hyderabad’s status quo is the courtesy of migrant Andhraites, who led the city to its present glory, and thus a separate Telangana brings the fear of forcibly fleeing Andhraites.

The only viable chance for a peaceful and flourishing survival for Hyderabad is to be declared a Union Territory or a Special Administrative region, which of course is a possibility K.C.Rao refuses to acknowledge.

The outcome of the Andhra-Telangana conflict seems grim. The clash between the pro and anti Telangana forces, along with the ever-changing stand of the Government has left the southern state at a standstill. Even our beloved leaders are in a terrible fix, as they cannot make a choice between the wellbeing of the people and political security. The Congress is not ready to risk alliance and support, Andhra leaders want to ignore it all and still desire for a bigger share to govern, and the poor TRS and K.C.Rao do not want to let go of their chance to political stardom, namely Telangana. The consequences of this catfight are yet to surface; we can just hope that whatever happens in end- separate statehood for Telangana or a unified Andhra- it is the people in the end who benefit, and not the selfish politicians for whom protests and rebellion is a means to pride and glory.

Meghna Kriplani

[Image courtesy: http://www.ndtv.com/news/images/story_page/map1story.jpg]

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