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Telangana State Formation: An Historic Resolve

By Dr. K.V.Reddy

29 November, 2013

Telangana state formation is an historic resolve of both the people and the political parties in the region that is inhabited by more than 4.5 crore people. Thanks to age-old struggles and sufferings that the telangana people had undergone, their predicament seems to be reaching its climax. With the present stage is set for completing the process of state formation within a month or so, the people are in the cheerful mood of celebrating their new year differently for the first time in the history of Telangana. They have to do some introspection as to what exactly has clinched the issue today. Of course, this they can do so if they are bit passionate about their history, as its historic resolve in the form of student/youth self-sacrifices which paved the way for present state of affairs.

Although, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi clinched the issue on December 9, 2009 (her birth day resolve, indeed!), when the then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the historic decision, the actual process of state formation could not be extended to its logical end. It was the counter movement that got engineered in the Seemandhra region which had sabotaged the process of state formation. Since the dominant political leadership in the state was having had nexus with the big business and media monarchs, the process had to be halted on December 23 itself, within a fortnight!

But, then the Telangana movement did not remain silent, as scores of its students and youth committed suicides day in day out in almost all parts of the region. It is this historic resolve of the students and youth that had ignited the silent masses into action once again. The silent movement became violent one with hundreds of such youth sacrificed their most valuable things in life, that is life itself! Nowhere in the world movements of students and youths that one witnessed such self-immolations as was the case with Telangana in recent times. While one can expect police killings to be taken place in a movement of violent nature, as was the case when Telangana farmers and landless poor launched heroic armed struggles against their oppressors on the eve of Indian Independence (1946-50), none want to commit self-sacrifice for the cause of Telangana.

It was heroic Telangana movement that was organized by the telugu-speaking people in Hyderabad Princely state, under the leadership of Andhra communists that had demonstrated how the regional people could be effective if sacrifices had to be made. They were second to none to offer their ultimate sacrifices during the course of their struggles against landlords, razakars and state forces in Telangana. Although the Indian armies had crushed the movement violently, and of course the Andhra leadership silently disrupted it, the Telangana people remained determined and supported the communist candidates in the first General elections and after. Incidentally, the Telangana communists secured more votes than what the then Indian Prime Minister (Nehru) got in his constituency!

Again, when the Nizam state of Hyderabad was trifurcated in the name of language and the Telugu-speaking Telangana was merged with Andhra state in 1956, the people were against it. Thanks to conditional merger (Gentlemen Agreement), the Andhra Pradesh was formed on the basis of safeguards and promises that were seldom implemented. Thus, the apprehensions of the people about manipulated merger were vindicated when several developmental projects got implemented in the state. Leave alone economic development, even their social existence was at stake.

Politically speaking, since telangana was a minority (107/294) in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, its elected representatives were up the creek in the number game. Within a short span of time, all institutions of power were subdued by the non-Telanganites whereby the movement was resurfaced on the political horizon once again. In other words, the people were up against the powers that be, but in vain. Viewed in this backdrop, rise of students and employees of Telangana for their democratic rights and fair share in the governance and development has to be understood. However, no amount of representations and silent struggles could be operational with the Andhra regime in the state.

Obviously, reminded of their historical revolts of farmers, the Telangana students had relocated on the path of heroic movements once again. It was their supreme martyrs that suffered for over decades, particularly in the wake of 1969 Jai Telangana movement, which evoked progressive response in the silent majority. In consequence, the popular struggle was marked by abundant sufferings and untold depressions for the common people in the region. Yet, the political leaders had converted the struggle into party formation that elevated a couple of congressmen onto the national stage, but not beyond that.

Despite popular struggles and electoral verdicts, the then congress governments at the center and in state had not conceded the demand. Rather, the Telangana Praja Samithi(TPS) and its elected leaders were politically hijacked by the Indira Gandhi regime. The TPS was compelled to merge with the ruling congress, which led to the emergence of political vacuum.

Sabotaging the democratic movements eventually bewildered the youth in mainstream politics. That was the time when Indian students and youth were responding to the social movements led by left extremist Naxalites on the one hand, and right extremists like Bal Thakres on the other hand in different parts of the country. Thus, the disillusioned students and youth had to look for superior alternatives whereby their democratic demand could be achieved once for all.

In fact, such a socio-political setting had encouraged the Telagnana youth to join the left extremist movements. In other words, undemocratic response of the governments to the democratic demands was to be held responsible for the rise of violent movements at all levels in the country. Whenever the political regimes fail to live up to the political anticipations of the people, then the latter will have no other option but to resort to such radical events. Thus, the factors for the rise and growth of Naxalite movement have to be traced in the failure of the regimes that pledged to the Constitution and its philosophy.

If the Naxalite movement is on the upsurge today in more than dozen states, perhaps, the accountability lies with the regimes, but not the people. Be that as it may. Although sacrifices of the students and youths in the form of police killings of about 370 in 1969-70 were not considered for the formation of telangana state, their far reaching effects could be discernible in the decades thereafter. In fact, their sacrifices had laid the foundation for a sustained movement that was by and large hushed.

While the state response to such quiet movement was to be observed in the form of infamous Emergency (1975-77), during when scores of rebellious telangana youth were killed in the 'encounters', the telangana movement continued to haunt the political leadership of the country. Despite renewed its course of events, the telangana movement stayed an unpredictable issue for the regimes and parties in the state and outside. At times, socio-economic and political packages were presented to deflect the movement and also attempted to be obliterated from the public memory.

Yet, the historic movement of people for their democratic rights and self-rule could never be dampened. In consequence, the Congress bastion like Andhra Pradesh had to give way for anti-Congress parties like TDP by 1983, and pro-Telangana party like TRS in 2001. What followed thereafter is a contemporary history that was also marked by incomparable sacrifices of the students (suicides) for the formation of Telangana state! At this historical hour of formation of 29th state of telangana in the Indian Union, it is time for the Telanganites to appreciate the chronicle of young endeavors and exemplary sacrifices that swayed the political leadership of the country.

Dr. K.V.Reddy, Assoc. Prof., Dept of Political Science, Mizoram University, Aizawl-796004


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