As the Congress held high-level discussions to find a solution to the long-pending Telangana state demand, all kinds of baseless arguments were put forth by vested interests to deny the region’s people. Like, if Telangana state is formed, it might trigger many more such demands leading to the disintegration of the country. This argument is not supported by facts. After the first States Reorganisation in 1956, another 14 states have been created. Their formation has hardly given rise to any new demands for separate statehood.
Some others have argued that the bifurcation would lead to an increase in Naxal activities. The Naxalite movement has nothing to do with the separate state movement. It has its own dynamics. In Andhra Pradesh, Naxalism emerged in the 1970s, a time when the landlords had firm control over the villages. Over time, many changes have occurred in rural society. The landlords are no longer a force to reckon with. Also, state institutions are now accessible to the weaker sections, which has gone a long way in securing justice for them.
Questions were also raised on the safety of the life and property of the ‘settlers’ in Hyderabad after the division. The city of Hyderabad has always been known for its tolerant attitude and composite culture, the result of the amalgamation of many peoples, not only from different states of India but even from other countries. Our composite culture was an essential component of the agitation for Telangana. Also, the formation of the state does not in any way affect the fundamental rights of any community (we’re all, after all, Indian citizens). Problems such as the sharing of river waters and distribution of revenue resources were also raised by votaries of a united Andhra Pradesh. These issues, I am sure, can be addressed meaningfully within the constitutional framework to the satisfaction of both the regions.
The people of Telangana pleaded for the state’s division on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation so that a firm foundation is laid down for friendly relations between people of both regions even afterwards. However, a section of the AP leadership including the chief minister tried to use these issues to stoke narrow regional sentiments against the division of the state. This is what prevented a rational discussion on the above issues.
Lastly, the struggle for Telangana was a struggle for democracy and empowerment. Our democratic choice was denied, which is why the struggle went on for years. The Centre didn’t help matters by postponing the decision just to appease a few lobby groups of the dominant castes from the Andhra region. This delay in fulfilling the promise made to the Telangana people even led to many suicides out of sheer desperation. Worse, it led to an erosion of the credibility of the political system. This is not a sign of good governance and will bear consequences in the long run for the nation.
Prof Kodanda Ram is chairperson, Telangana Joint Action Committee; E-mail your columnist: kodandram1955 AT gmail.com