The T-tangle: How the Congress knotted itself up

23 Oct, 2012 08:25 IST|Sakshi
The T-tangle: How the Congress knotted itself up

The very word ‘Telangana’ evokes a wide range of emotions and elicits diverse responses and opinions. Needless to say, it all depends on who you are talking to—in other words, which part of the state he is from.

The struggle for a separate state has been more than four decades old, even if one glosses over the early phase when AP was formed. But if we were to go back to its preliminary stage, even before AP came into being, the demand for a separate Telangana was loud and clear and was heard in Delhi.
The States’ Reorganization Commission, often referred to as the Fazal Ali Commission appointed in 1955 to go into the issue of an integrated state, spoke of the virtues of Vishalandhra, but highlighted the fears of the people of Telangana, as well:
One of the principal causes of opposition of Vishalandhra also seems to be the apprehension felt by the educationally backward people of Telangana that they may be swamped and exploited by the more advanced people of the coastal areas.
The locals today feel that these fears have come true. In its final analysis of the problem, the Commission said:
After taking all these factors into consideration we have come to the conclusions that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana, if for the present, the Telangana area is to constitute into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residency Hyderabad State expresses itself in favor of such unification.
While this conclusion was as clear as daylight, Nehru and his cabinet colleagues let sleeping dogs lie. It was under Dr. Marri Channa Reddy, one of the founders of the Telangana Praja Samiti, student leader Mallikarjun, who later became a Union Minister and others that the Telangana sentiment got strongly reignited in 1969. In typical Congress style, the uncrowned empress of her times, Indira Gandhi, replaced Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, who hailed from Narsaraopeta and was then the Chief Minister, with P.V. Narasimha Rao, a son of the soil. PV’s stint was a lackluster one and to his misfortune, even as the embers of the Telangana agitation were dying, the raging inferno of the Jai Andhra movement brought his government down with a spell of President’s rule.
While the Telangana sentiment remained a powerful undercurrent, it was only after Dr. YSR’s tragic demise on September 2, 2009, that the issue once again took centrestage. The TRS supremo, K. Chandrasekhara Rao began his fast unto death towards the end of November, leading to the then Home Minister,  P. Chidambaram’s famous December 9, 2009 statement that the Centre was setting in motion the process of the formation of a separate Telangana state.
The Centre did a quick volte-face with MPs from the Rayalaseema-Andhra region threatening to resign, and this in turn led to seething resentment in Telangana. Rosaiah, unable to handle the crisis was shunted out to neighbouring Tamil Nadu as the Governor, paving the way for the current Chief Ministerial incumbent, Kiran Kumar Reddy. All along, the state Congress leaders including Kiran Kumar Reddy had just one refrain—it was up to the Centre to take a decision on the vexatious T-issue. The Congress MPs from Telangana would sing the same tune, but participate in marches, shut-downs, television debates and public discussions. Ministers from the Telangana region, with the sole exception of Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, continue to cling to their positions, while indulging in grandstanding and posturing for the consumption of the masses.
After its mishandling of the Telangana agitation in 1969, the Congress beginning with Chidambaram’s December 2009 declaration, has knotted itself up with one confusing statement after another. The party spokespersons would speak of consensus once, of regional aspirations on another occasion and of the need for patience once. At other times, Central ministers would highlight the imminent danger of naxalism.
Meanwhile, mega marches, shut-downs and protests take place sporadically, bringing Hyderabad to a grinding halt and paralyzing the rest of Telangana. The Congress is not as yet ready to bell the Telangana cat, fearing a rebellion in its ranks. Meanwhile, the T-cauldron continues to simmer.


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