Monday, January 25, 2010


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Political Sabotage In Telangana: Some Unanswered Questions

By Dr.K.Vidyasagar 08 November, 2006
There are several instances in the history of political movements in India and elsewhere that show how the question of leadership assumes very significance. Although movements are supposed to throw leaders and elevate them during the course of movements, the other way round is also possible in the case of some popular movements in the country. Take the case of Jai Telangana movement of late 1960s. In this instance, political leaders led the movement to its nadir, but failed to sustain it thereafter, and thus worth noting. The movement attracted the national headlines and thereby secured the popular support in the elections held in 1971. Like the JP Movement of mid 70s, the Jai Telangana movement was a popular youth movement. Incidentally, it was Indira Gandhi who faced the challenges of both these movements, and failed to manipulate them electorally. Failed to respond to such political upheavals in a democratic manner, she had to resort to anti-democratic and coercive means, only to betray the spirit of those movements. Of course, the leaders and followers of these movements tried to shirk their responsibilities for their acts of collusion with Indira Gandhi, overtly or covertly. They proved to be the sabotagers of such historic movements.
In the case of Jai Telangana movement, once Congress Union Steel Minister, Marri Chenna Reddy hijacked the Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) movement of students and employees of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh and led it to its successful end. Chenna Reddy replaced its first president A.Madanmohan so as to politicalise the movement. Accordingly, this movement-turned party, that secured the popular mandate in terms of winning 11 Loksabha seats (out of 14 seats), swimming across all the currents against the entrenched Congress and the Communists, from the region. Failed to take on the Durga-Indira Gandhi, the Chenna reddy leadership had to yield to the pressures and favours of the Prime Minister. Thus he had to surrender all the TPS’s MPs to Indira Gandhi for few crumbs and thereby sabotaged the movement once for all. However, there was not much noise raised against the act of betrayal, from any quarter including the followers of the TPS. What is discernible from this instance is that the leadership is like a double-edged sword, which can ensure success of a movement, or else it can water down the movements as and when they choose to do so. Thus, the leadership is very crucial in any democratic movement. Although the Telangana movement has always been a democratic one, as the popular mandate was recorded on couple of occasions, the leadership played a dubious role. Unless the leaders are exemplary, one cannot expect them to perform better.
Was the ‘gentlemen agreement’ not an historical blunder?
It is pertinent to recollect the violation of this agreement by the first ever chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjeeva reddy ridiculing the post of Deputy Chief ministership as sixth finger and thus useless! While he served as Deputy Chief Minister in the B.Gopal reddy’s regime till October 31, 1956, the post became ridiculous to him by November 1, 1956! It was one of the six-point formulas that were violated on the very first day of formation of Andhra Pradesh. Leave alone its sanctity and popular support, the six-point alone was the basis for state formation. There was no referendum of our people, nor was there any recommendation of the SRC (which recommended against merger of Telangana with Andhra state, indeed!) to that effect. Even the Hyderabad State Assembly was divided on the hasty decision. Surprisingly, Prime Minister Nehru’s views on the need of continuation of Telangana reflect the feeling of the then Central government.
Then what precipitated the illegal action of hasty merger was the imposition of Andhra Congress leaders’ viewpoint in the form of ‘Gentlemen agreement’, an historical blunder that was never respected either in letter or in spirit. Who were these gentlemen? Which party they belonged to, by and large? It is those congress leaders who were under the control of Congress coterie that played a dubious role so as to bulldoze the Telangana leaders. Since the Congress party members largely represented the ‘gentlemen agreement’, then that party alone has to own the responsibility. Incidentally, the formation of the state was contractual and conditional (as it was subject to six-point formula/gentlemen agreement), and its very violation on the very first day can be understood as negating the state formation itself! How can the contract be continued if one of its conditions were violated? Does it not tantamount to one-sided contract? It is regrettable to note that such one-sided contract has been imposed on Telangana for that past five decades, thanks to its leaders’ stony silence.
Can minority ever outwit the majority?
In the Andhra Pradesh Legislative House of 294 members, only 107 members hail from the Telangana region, which can never have any veto power against the 187 members from non-Telangana areas. Obviously, in the case of any democratic institution, it is the view of the majority that always outwits the minority, not vice versa. Since, there is hardly any protection for a minority viewpoint in the Westminster model (British) of democracy, the minority is bound to bear the brunt of the majority rule. Thus, the rule of majority, that is of non-Telangana areas in Telangana region, for it is merged with Andhra state in 1956, continues unabated. Even if the Chief Minister belongs to the majority party, which obviously has to command majority in non-Telangana areas, he cannot be expected to do develop, leave alone favour, the region the way his people expect him to do so.
For instance, the fate of G.O. No. 610 (that exposes how non-local candidates were appointed against the local quota some 25 years ago) is still hanging in the air. Apparently, almost all political parties favour, in principle, implementing the G.O. No. 610, but did nothing as far as its practicality is concerned. Thus, one can imagine its fate, as its implementation is left to those biased bureaucrats who were actually responsible for the act of illegal recruitment. How come some bureaucrats act so arrogantly that even Girglani had to complain about non-cooperation of government officials in identifying, leave alone punishing, those illegal employees who were appointed long long ago? How come they fail to comply with the norms of government-appointed Girglani commission for more than two years? Where do they get strength from, or tacit cooperation of? How can the government permit such erring officials to continue in office? It is not easy to answer to these questions. For, it is the government that is dominated by the majority in the Assembly of Andhra Pradesh that is responsible for the behaviour of the officials, be it their action of appointing non-locals or inaction of covering up their misdeeds for so long.
Whether the Telangana CMs failed to ‘develop’ the region?
Thus, the arguments of ‘development by Telangana chief ministers’ (P.V.Narsimha Rao, M.Chenna Reddy, T.Anjaiah) can be dismissed as mischievous. It may be noted that Jalagam Vengal Rao who cannot be considered as Telangana leader (as he migrated from Krishna district), and thus continued in office without any interruption! Unlike other Andhra Chief Ministers, Telangana leaders always appointed Deputy Chief Ministers from the Andhra-seema region in their cabinets, so as to implement the six-point formula. Leave alone ‘developing Telangana’ our chief ministers never completed their full term so far. However, paradoxically, it is only non-Telangana chief ministers who not only completed their full terms but also created history. Chandra babu surpassing the record of Brahmananda reddy’s long tenure is a case in point. On the other hand, in the case of Telangana leaders, even a great leader like PV could not continue as chief minister of the state for one full year, whereas he completed five year term as prime minister of India, not withstanding his minority-party status at Delhi! In fact, PV was not a separatist like his predecessors, but an integrationist! However, he had to lose his position (CM) for hailing the decision of Supreme Court w.r.t. Mulki rules, as the Jai Andhra movement demanded his resignation. Of course, it is a different matter that even during PV’s regime, the state of Andhra Pradesh failed to get several pending projects cleared, leave alone developing Telangana! Thus, one can imagine the fate of Telangana, in any sector. Viewed in this backdrop, one finds it odd to offer convincing answers to critics who raise questions like why did Telangana leaders(as CMs and PM) fail to develop the region, why do these leaders keep mum when there were discriminatory policies being pursued, why did the Telangana intellectuals raise their voice only when there were non-congress regimes in the state, and whether there was any mandate for Telangana leaders to share power with the Congress party that makes a volte-face on the demand of state.
In any case, it is ridiculous to view Telangana state demand as demand for either ‘welfare’ or ‘development’, be it regionally or economically, as is propagated by the present chief minister. Because, once such argument is promoted, then there are electoral communists ready to join the chorus of raising the question of ‘backward regions’ and demand to treat Telangana on par with those backward regions of the state viz., Rayalaseema, Uttarandhra etc. Then they would be generously seeking the ‘packages’ ‘development funds’ from the central government and thereby confuse the genuine demand of Telangana state once for all. Further, it is also ridiculous to treat Telangana issue as the issue of ‘size’ or ‘administration’ of the region, as is diplomatically raised by the parties and groups like BJP and RSS. As a matter of fact, once the demand is conceded, the Telangana would be bigger state than those existing 16 states in India today! With a population of more than one and half times of that of Nepal, the Telangana state would be of 3.5 crore size. Unlike other three states which were created by the BJP in the year 2000, the state of Telangana does not require any special money for the construction of its state capital city, as the centuries-old Hyderabad is located in the heart of Telangana itself!
Was it also not the failure of the non-congress parties?
At the other end, it so happened that the non-congress/opposition parties could not influence the ruling parties and leaders w.r.t. development of the region. At least, they could have strove for undertaking some irrigation and power projects here and there in Telangana. Further, these opposition parties failed to fight for ensuring employment opportunities, leave alone establishing some new industries in their region. In the name of industrialising backward region, the Andhra capitalists were cornering concessions and subsidies on the one hand, but they were importing employees from Andhra areas into Telangana-based industries. While Andhra capitalists were permitted to pollute Telangana lands and fields and thereby to derive industrial profits/benefits, they were not asked to employ the local youth in the Telangana industries. Instead, Nizam-established industries were being closed down and sold out to the Andhra entrepreneurs at a throw away prices.
But still these parties, particularly those from the communist ranks, albeit made some noise now and then, but colluded with the ruling parties/regimes, as if the Telangana development was not their botheration. Why is it that the opposition parties were indifferent to rising unemployment in Telangana? Why is that old irrigation projects were not being completed in Telangana, whereas new projects are planned in Andhra region? Pulichintala project that caters to the needs of third crop in the Coastal area is being implemented on war footing is a case in point. Why it is that farmers in the same state were treated in different ways, (for Andhra peasants were provided CHEAP water with canal-irrigation, whereas Telangana peasants were forced to go for COSTLY bore well-irrigation)? Why is it that there were no agitations being launched when non-local candidates were appointed against local quota, affecting the job-prospects of thousands of Telangana youth? Why is it that there were no agitations against the failure of implementing the G.O. No. 610? These are some questions that deserve answers from the communist parties which believe in equity and equality, linguistic unity, working class unity, peoples’ unity etc.
Was it not the communists’ betrayal of Telangana cause?
For those of us who have studied the communist activities in Telangana, their silence alone would be the only answer. Since they cannot reject these questions as illogical, they have to pretend that their silence would speak better. Because, they are simply subjective, biased and opportunistic, they neglect any sort of objective analysis. They practice what they do not preach, or preach what they do not practice. They are hypocritical and played the game of villains, as far as Telangana is concerned. One can trace the roots of the communist hypocrisy in their age-old struggle for linguistic states. Their approach towards religion, region, caste and community are smacked of their farce-class analysis. While they were always engaged in class-analyses on the state, independence, nationalism, secularism, path of development in India, their activities were influenced by their opportunistic shifting stands. Their agitations were based on the sheer electoral objectives. Their elections were being influenced by their compromises on militancy. Their governments were being continued due to their collaborationist policies with their class enemies. As they colluded with their Andhra Congress counterparts in finalising the Telangana-merger, against the popular will of the Telangana people, in the name of VISHAALAANDHRA LO PRAJAA RAJYAM! They helped the Andhra capitalists to colonise Telangana internally so as to continue loot and plunder unabated.
Take the case of CPM leaders, who are playing the role of sabotage in Telangana, long before they emerged on the Indian political scene. Their Bengal BOSSES were competing with their counterparts in other states to attract foreign funds in Calcutta, but opposing the same in Delhi. One can cite several such hypocritical practices of the CPM, which expose their Bengal-bias on the one hand and myopic view of Telangana. That is not all. There is another dimension to their consistent opposition to the cause of Telangana state. More than their Bengal-bias (as some would believe that their opposition stems from their antipathy towards separate state demands of Gorkhaland and Northern Bengal etc), the Andhra-bias undermined the Telangana comrades. Thus, not a single Telangana comrade was ever elevated to the level of State Secretary, leave alone making him a politburo member! Two young Politbureau members, Sitaram yechury and Raghavulu(both hail from Andhra region) alone are controlling the party affairs completely today. Obviously, none can take on these Andhra comrades to question their Andhra-bias towards their Telangana counterparts!
Thanks to the heroic Telangana peasant struggle that cost the lives of ten thousand Telangana villagers, the Andhra communists (P.Sundarayya) became the main opposition leaders in the first Loksabha itself. Whereas, the Telangana leadership that bore brunt of feudal capitalist onslaughts has always been the loser, leave alone leading the Indian communist movement in Andhra at least! For, they did not trust Telangana mass leaders to occupy the highest party positions in the state till date. Thus, once Telangana mass leaders like DVRao, Omkar and BNReddy were ridiculed and dismissed from the party. On several occasions the party fielded Andhra comrades from Telangana constituencies/areas, but not the other way round. In the recent elections to LokSabha too, the CPM fielded a Bejawada Baburao from the Telangana seat (Bhadrachalam), whereas in the elections to the Rajyasabha, the party got one Nellore-Madhu-reddy elected. Even in the party positions too, less said the better, as Andhra comrades were always given leadership in some Telangana districts. But no Telangana leader is ever given any such position in the Andhra areas! This is not just history. Even today, Andhra comrades are leading the party units and frontal organisations in Hyderabad, Rangareddy, and few other Telangana districts are just a few cases in point. These are some bitter facts that are hardly covered in the Andhra-biased media.
Finally, if at all there are any obstacles that impact on the state formation, then it is those Andhra settlers who had grabbed the government positions, violating the legal- local-category norms by producing bogus mulki/local certificates. Obviously, the issue of non-local recruitment (G.O.No. 610 is a case in point) in Telangana region continues to be hanging in the air, as long as the Telangana state is not formed. And of course, there are some political leaders, incidentally, they are not elected representatives of the Telangana people in any sense, (for, they are appointed by the party high commands), who are the main hurdles in the formation of Telangana state. The two invisible entities, bogus bureaucrats and political parasites seem to be responsible for manipulating the Telangana politicians and elected representatives for the past 50 years! This is the crux of the whole problem that delayed the process of state formation. Thus, it is time we realise how this problem is to be solved at once, if at all democratic demand of state formation is to be achieved in the days to come.
Dr.K.Vidyasagar, Action Committee for Telangana, Hyderabad.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dooars Vis-a-Vis- Gorkhaland
Dr. Sonam Wangyal   (Paper presented in the Seminar organised by Dooars Study Forum)
Discrimination even in Death: The Dooars Study Forum includes here the final story of two Gorkha martyrs, one from Darjeeling district and another from the Dooars, whose gallantry and sacrifice were subjected to the worst treatment possible by the West Bengal Government.
Santosh Thapa of Lebong (in Darjeeling and therefore in the present state of West Bengal) was a sepoy in the 5/1 Gorkha Rifles. He saw action in ‘Operation Orchid’, ‘HAUCA’ (Jammu & Kashmir), and ‘Operation Pawan’ and was decorated with Samanya Seva Medal with Clasp ‘Nagaland’. He was felled by enemy bullets in the line of duty on 8 December 1987. The West Bengal government in a bizarre sense of gratitude awarded the grieving widow an Ex-Gratia grant of Rs. 2,000/- (Rupees two thousand). The sum was so paltry that it would not even cover the cost of the funeral rites. When it is common knowledge that victims of railway accidents, mining disasters etc. are given from Rs. 50,000/- to lakhs of rupees the West Bengal government thought it fit to dole out just two thousand rupees for a man who had defended his country in the harshest of conditions and eventually paid the final price. This is nothing short of belittling the contribution of a hero and a martyr and the government would have been better off by not giving anything at all.
The dishonor meted out to Gorkha Havildar Lalbahadur Thapa of Kumai Tea Gardens, Matelli, (Dooars) is even more brutal. The Havildar had served the nation for twenty two years and was honoured with Dirdhakalin Seva Medal, Highest Altitude Medal (Siachen), Vishist Seva Medal, Dirdha Seva Medal, 50th Independence Medal, and the Vishesh Seva Medal. He was an example and hero to all who knew him. He died in the line of duty on 09 March 2001 and his tricolor-wrapped body was brought to Baghdogra Airport and thence routed to Siliguri, Malbazar, Chalsa and eventually to Kumai Tea Garden. The martyred Havildar’s chronicler, Gangaprasad Bhattarai, writes that all along the route Gorkhas paid tribute to the deceased hero but not a single Minister or Member of the West Bengal Assembly was present to honour the man who had given the best of his twenty two years and finally even his life for the defense of his country, and therefore to the defense of West Bengal as well. Like in the case of martyr Santosh Thapa, Havildar Lalbahadur Thapa’s wife was given a cheque of gratitude indebtedness amounting to Rs. 2,000/- (two thousand) only. How much more can one insult a hero and his contribution to his motherland!
But there is an ironical flipside to this story also and it shall be put on record in the following pages.
Subsequent to the police excesses in Lalgarh in November 2008, Shri Ardhenu Sen, the State Home Secretary, told the press that the West Bengal government would compensate 14 tribal women who were injured during the police raids. “We have decided to give Rs. 50,000/- to a tribal woman, Sitamoni Murmu, who suffered serious injury during the police operations. The State Government will also grant Rs. 25,000/- to Palmoni Murmu and twelve other tribal women will get Rs. 15,000/- each. While this is laudable in that it amounts to admission of a mistake and that the Government was trying to express regret through recompense but compare the amount with what a Gorkha Soldier got for giving his precious life.
With a rise in the insurgency movements in south of the state the policemen became increasingly vulnerable to attacks from the insurgents and on 21 October 2009 the West Bengal government announced a compensation package for policeman killed in the line of duty. It allowed for the deceased’s family to draw full salary every month and to live in the government quarters till the date of retirement, enjoy all admissible benefits, as well as an Ex-Gratia grant of Rs. 500,000/- (increased from the previous amount of 2 lakhs). The Director General of Police, Shri Bhupinder Singh, even went on to say that “the total compensation as admissible now for the family of a victim policeman will increase to Rs. 15 lakh which includes a medical insurance of Rs. 10 lakhs. All these are commendable and the Forum does not expect and neither does it ask the government to match these grants as far as the Gorkha soldiers from West Bengal are concerned. But what the Forum and the Gorkhas spread across India expect is that their dead in the line of duty not be insulted by doling out a pittance. Individual insult like these, each discrimination in education facilities, every partiality in employment opportunities, glaring fabrication of the census, sustained efforts to change the demographic ground reality, continued prejudices in health facilities, the prolonged injustices against the Gorkhas and the Adibasis in the tea gardens and a host of other inequities against the minority communities increase the aspiration for justice, for a space of one’s own, for a new state devoid of all these unpleasant imperfections. The impetus has come largely from the West Bengal government which keeps on pushing the minority communities over the brink of revolt and the same government questions, “Why are you revolting?”
Gorkhaland: what does future hold?
Telangana State Formation
Political sabotage in telangana
Dooars Vis-a-vis-Gorkhaland
Gorkhaland: The solutions & Why Not
Terrorist, Rebel Or Freedom Fighter?’ By Dilnaz Bo...
SPEECH OF JASWANTI will come to the point of how t...
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National Political Thought
Gorkha Autonomous Council (GAC) in Assam – a Journey

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gorkhaland: The Solutions & Why Not Animesh Ray
The issue of Gorkhaland is not inherently a complex issue, and therefore should not be made to look so. So let us look at the probable solutions one by one.

The state government does nothing and the central government turns a blind eye to the hills. How much steam does GJM have? It's all going to fizz out in a few months. And if still the agitations continue, well then lets suppress it.

Advantage: None in particular. Might satisfy some higher egos in the state government.

Disadvantage: Agitation continues, and all the harmful things associated with it (mostly financial). Plus, it leaves the issue open to dispute later.

SECOND SOLUTION: Merge Darjeeling with Sikkim.

Yeah, that saves the hassle of forming a new state, and must also placate the Gorkhas (Man, doesn't Sikkim also consists of mainly Nepalis?). But I don't think that's possible. If the Gorkhas are looking for an identity, Sikkim is hardly going to provide that. And ironically it was to save Sikkim's neck that the British had annexed Darjeeling from the Gorkhas. Plus I think any merger plans would be vociferously opposed by the SDF, the ruling party in Sikkim. This would be triggered by the fact that the population of Darjeeling is 3 times more than that of Sikkim. So any merger would see the rise of another strong party (GJM) in state politics, and this might very well cost Mr. Chamling is beloved chair.

Advantage: Saves the hassle of the formation of a new state.

Disadvantage: Fails in all other objectives.

THIRD SOLUTION: Form a new state, Gorkhaland.

This is what the GJM is presently dreaming about. A state of their own. So that they can say that, "I belong to Gorkhaland, and that's a state of India." Very well. So first let me state the various factors.

Favourable factors-

1. Land area comparable to Goa (the smallest state).
2. High population
3. Distinct language and culture
4. Success of smaller states like Goa and Sikkim
And now the unfavourable factors-
1. Land area even less than Goa (yeah, it counts both ways of the argument).
2. Strategic concerns (it lies in the chicken's neck corridor).
3. More governments mean more ministers. More ministers mean more bureaucrats. And all this means more cars, servants, houses, and ultimately more money (and so less money available for development).
4. Failure of smaller states like Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland (the other side of the same coin).
5. The wrong message to all other communities desiring their own states.
Advantages: Solution of the problem. Complete withdrawal of all strikes and agitation. Spurt in economy.
Disadvantages: Wrong message to other communities fighting for statehood. Plus the Bengali population in Siliguri might not be too pleased. Anti-Gorkhaland strikes and rallies. Siliguri might be kept within West Bengal (but this certainly won't find much favour with GJM). But hey, you win some, you lose some. You lose a city, but you win the state.

FOURTH SOLUTION: Declare Darjeeling to be an Union Territory (with partial statehood later on).

This would be more amicable to the Central Government, and would also solve the problem of identity which the Gorkhas feels so keenly. The Government of West Bengal too, I have reasons to believe, will be less opposed to this plan. The Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Central Government might be chosen from any of the Gorkha Regiments. This would certainly go a long way in creating goodwill amongst the people of Darjeeling. Later on as the political climate stabilises in the state, Darjeeling (or Gorkhaland after renaming) can be conferred the status of partial statehood with its own elected legislative assemblies and the executive councils of ministers on the lines of the DGHC. 

Advantages: Solution of the problem. Spurt in economy. Strategic interests will be taken better care of (Gorkhaland will be a frontier UT then).

Disadvantages: The issue can still be exploited by vested political interests. GJM might not be satisfied as it's leader Bimal Gurung will have failed to get the power for himself. His dreams of being the Chief Minister will be dashed.
Finally the choice lies with the Gorkhas. It will always be difficult to satisfy all the parties. But this doesn't mean that an agreement will remain forever elusive. All we need are a few compromises and a dilution of the excited egos on both side of the political fence. And God willing everything will be great.

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Respect for elders 'is in the genes'

A Resettled Bhutanese family driven out of their house.