Friday, February 5, 2010

Telangana State Formation: Age-Old Demand Under Process

Thanks to Sonia Gandhi, who promised to concede the long-pending demand in 2004 itself, enforced Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram to initiate the process of state formation on December 9, 2009. Incidentally, those violent youth movements that were organised at home and abroad during that period of late 60s were once again engineered this time in Telangana and elsewhere. The rise of the Naxalite movement in various parts of India is a case in point. At the international level, anti-American movements in the backdrop of the American fiasco in Vietnam and elsewhere were also popular. More than anything else, it was the students and employees who raised the banner of revolt against their systems and political regimes. Obviously, those movements shook the established regimes and their political leaderships. As history repeats itself, similar movements are back on the fore once again. The Jai telangana movement surfaced in 2009 that continued to haunt the Union government once again.
In the recent past, following an eleven days of hunger strike by the former Union Minister and the Lok Sabha MP K.Chandra Sekhar Rao (KCR) the Congress-led UPA government has conceded the popular demand of telangana state formation on December 9, 2009. The Union Home Minister announced the positive response that the core committee headed by the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi has come out with. At a time when the Telangana Students Joint Action Committee (JAC) has decided to implement the much publicised “March to Assembly” on December 10, the Union government responded appropriate and very favourably. Obviously, the government response has pacified both the students and KCR to the extent that they welcomed the move without any reservations.
However, people and students in non-telangana areas, viz., Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema reacted to the celebratons that the telanganites had organised overnight on December 9, in a very hostile manner. Thanks to the Resignation-drama, that was initiated and enacted by the political leaders, cutting across parties and castes, announced their resignations from the legislatures, at once on December 10. Obviously, the panic-stricken public, the students and political activists were out in the streets and markets in the urban areas. They burnt the effigies of the Union Home Minister, besides those of the KCR, who was singled out as the cause for creating the state of telangana state.
The parties that promised statehood in their election manifestoes, declared their unconditional support to the T-state, in the all-party meeting that was convened by the state Chief Minister on December 7 itself, were found reversing their stand on telangana state. Shockingly, all the political leaders belonging to the non-Telangana areas made a volte-face on the ground that there were popular upsurge. Interestingly, the state chief minister remained a mute spectator to the ongoing violent developments in the state. While the government was paralysed for a week or so, when the Central government appealed the agitators to remain peaceful. But then, failed to ensure any peace and tranquillity in state, the Union Minister made another statement on December 23, whereby peace process would be initiated prior to proceeding with the process of state formation. While this announcement was welcomed by the antagonists of t-state, the protagonists renewed their movement once again.
Meanwhile, politicians from the non-telangana areas having camped in Delhi continued lobbying against state formation. It was reported in the media that there were moneybags carried and offered to those who were ready to sabotage the process of state formation. In contrast, there were movements at every level from the village to the towns and cities in the Telangana region. People belonging to all walks of life and communities had demonstrated their support to the JACs (Joint Action Committees) that coordinated the agitational activities on end. For the first time the Jain Telangana movement has become the most popular movement that the state has ever witnessed. There was none to abstain, leave alone oppose, from the ongoing movement. Even those mute spectators, who were non-political so far, were also those enthused to join the movement wholeheartedly.
Gone are the days of parties and leaders who used to organise the activities in support of jai telangana, are there now, queuing behind the people and the agitationists. The people are aware what to and not to do, during the course of day-long programmes. Slogans and symbols of the movement are created afresh and spontaneously. Singers and dancers are there ready to present their share of contribution waiting for their turn to come. Donors and philanthropists are ready to offer their valuables in cash and kind, as and when required. Yes, that is the show of strength, strength of Telangana people against the money bags and conspiracies. Obviously, the media that seldom supported the cause of telangana, for the media-monarchs being financed by the affluent non-Telangana persons, was compelled to give coverage to the ongoing developments. Of course, the media coverage is timely and helpful for both the antagonists and protagonists to understand the seriousness of the movement.
As part of continuing the process of consultations, the Union Home Minister convened an all-party meeting in Delhi on January 5, 2010. Except two parties (CPM & PRP), all other parties expressed their support in favour of the state formation. That speaks majority support on the subject. Since the ball, now, is in the court of the state and central governments, the agitationists, the JAC and KCR having called off the movement for the time being. Expectedly, the announcement of an expert committee led by the former Justice Sri Krishna to hold consultations on the subject that paralysed the state for so long is right step at right time. Perhaps, within a couple of days, the reputed members of the committee start the process of organising meetings so as to gather the ground information. Unlike the politicians, these experts of high calibre are under no pressure to yield and take sides. Given a sufficient time, these members are expected to come out with very rational land logical settlement of the problem. Till then, the protagonists of state formation should restrain themselves and maintain calm in their day-to-day activities.
Historically speaking, the Constitution of India has a provision, under Article 3, which facilitated the creation of more than one dozen new States in the last 50 years, and that too without the recommendation of any so-called SRC. Irrespective of the opinion of the concerned parent State, the provision empowers Parliament to alter the boundaries of any State, if such a demand is found to be democratic and popular. Whereas, the demand for telangana state stems from the demand for the revival of old Hyderabad state of telugu-speaking people that existed during 1948-56.
It is the question of regional discrimination in various fields that strengthened the argument that both the entities namely, Telangana and Coastal would find it difficult to integrate together in the same state any further. For over five decades such an experiment of simulated integration between these two people was in vogue. There was exchange of violent incidents on several occasions due to widening gulf between the two regional entities. Within a period of first 13 years of Andhra Pradesh formation the Telangana public demanded for the revival of old state of Hyderabad, which is otherwise known as 1969 movement of Jai Telangana! Thanks to the Chennareddy-hijacked student movement that cost the lives of about 369 students, but surrendered to the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government. While the Congress leaders were accommodated in the government positions, the disgusted students joined the newly emerging Naxalite movement that continued to agitate the minds of both central and state governments so far! For over four decades though there were several such telangana movements, none of them attracted the mainstream politicians, leave alone governments!
Unlike before, the other opposition parties in the parliament and state assembly have already extended their support. But then, their counterparts in the non-telangana areas have opposed the new state. Incidentally, following the tragic death of YSR, the issue of Telangana was raised in a big way. KCR has elevated the telangana movement to the extent that students and other sections of society have responded very actively. Thus, the saga of the Telangana struggle continues unabated, and there is no end in sight! It is immaterial if the movement is led by KCR of the TRS today or the students under the platform of JAC or any other leader tomorrow, for that matter. Ultimately, the democratic component of the Telangana demand will keep the telangana movement energetic in the days to come, of course till the old state is revived once for all.
Dr.K.Vidyasagar Reddy, Dept. Of Political Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad-7

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