What happened to Telangana?


One man breaks away from a mainstream party demanding a separate state. He forms a new party, which wrecks havoc on the parent party in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Logically, the story should end with the formation of a separate state.

But the reality has been somewhat different for K Chandrasekhar Rao who broke away from the Telugu Desam Party to form the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

KCR, as Rao is widely referred to, is now trying to explain why Telangana will not come into being by December as he had promised after his party’s spectacular showing in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

What KCR told rediff in May 2001: ‘No force on earth can stop us from achieving a separate Telengana’

KCR may like his supporters to believe that some minor irritants are holding up the formation of Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, but the reality is that his ally, the Congress party, has deftly put the issue on the backburner.

The Congress is not keen to concede the demand. Leaders from coastal Andhra like former minister Gade Venkat Reddy are staunch opponents of a separate Telangana. Reddy hails from Prakasam district in coastal AP and is now an MLA from the neighbouring Guntur district.

Those from Rayalaseema, like Kurnool MP Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, threaten to raise the demand for a separate Rayalaseema if the party high command concedes Telangana.

The opposition TDP is staunchly opposed to Telangana. Its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, claims to be committed to a separate Telangana but does not accept the TRS’ leadership in the statehood movement.

What KCR told rediff in April 2004: ‘Krishna river will flow full of blood’

The Left parties, important allies of the Congress in the state and at the Centre, also oppose a Telangana state.

What they seek is a special package for the backward region.

The Naxalite groups — the People’s War Group and Janashakthi — support the demand for a separate Telengana state, but have accused KCR of monopolising the movement.

The Maoist rebels have their own agenda.

The ‘liberation’ of Telangana would be just the first step towards their larger goal of establishing Dandakaranya, a state comprising tribal-dominated areas culled from over six states and with a population of 10 crore (100 million) people.

The People’s War Group recently charged the TRS with trying to create a ‘feudal Telangana state.’ PWG emissary and revolutionary poet Varavara Rao accused KCR of betraying the cause ‘by accepting Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) from a media baron to go slow on the demand for a separate Telangana.’

Denying the charge, TRS leaders point out that while the PWG is trying to secure Telangana through bloodshed, the party has secured the people’s mandate for the same through the ballot.

KCR says the Union home ministry has initiated work on fulfilling the Constitutional requirement for formation of a separate Telangana state and that a Bill in this regard will be enacted in the winter session of Parliament.

But Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy has put a spoke in the wheel by saying that steps for the creation of new state can be considered only after the second States Reorganisation Commission is appointed to consider the demands from various regions of the country and that political parties in AP have yet to arrive at a consensus on the issue.

Digvijay Singh, the Congress general secretary in charge of the state, has also said the issue can be decided only through consensus.

Congressmen are divided on this issue. While some like G Chinna Reddy, an MLA from Mahboobnagar district who was associated with the now defunct Telangana Legislators Forum, support the TRS stand that there is no need for a second States Reorganisation Commission, others like Congress spokespersonK Keshav Rao — a former MLC (member of the state legislative council) who hails from Nizamabad district but now a Hyderabad resident — insist the Commission is indispensable to the process of creating a separate state.

The Union government will give the States Reorganisation Commission a specific time frame to go about its task but the catch is that it may not constitute the SRC in a hurry.

All KCR — whose TRS has two berths in the United Progressive Alliance ministry at the Centre, including one for himself, and six in the state government — has to show for his efforts is mention of the issue in the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme and in President A P J Abdul Kalam’s address to Parliament in June: ‘The UPA government will consider the demand for the formation of a Telangana state at an appropriate time after due consultations and consensus.’

In a bid to keep the issue alive, KCR invited UPA Chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several Union ministers, including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Pawar and Ram Vilas Paswan to  dinner and discussions in Delhi last month.

At the same time, he sought the support of political parties outside the ruling UPA, of which the TRS is a member through its alliance with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

Last fortnight TRS leaders met Sonia in Delhi to discuss the issue, but with little success.

On their return to Hyderabad, the six ministers in the state cabinet held a press conference on August 1 to announce that the process would take at least a year. In the meantime, they will continue to exert pressure on the Congress to expedite matters.

To silence the critics, KCR once said: ‘If anyone proves that I have watered down the Telangana cause, I will commit suicide at the martyrs memorial erected by the PWG at Warangal.’

He may not have watered down the cause, but an end to his long struggle is not yet in sight.

Syed Amin Jafri

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