Bypolls might have brought in glad tidings for the TRS which won four out of six seats in Telangana where they took place. Two suicides have however shattered the uncertain peace that reigned in the region. Bhojya Naik, an MBA student, immolated himself in Hanamkonda on March 24. This was followed by auto driver Rajamouli's suicide on March 26 in Hanamkonda again. Both youths reportedly committed suicide fearing a slowdown in the statehood movement. Gandra Venkataramana Reddy, Congress whip, had issued a statement saying that the party would retain its seats in Telangana in 2014 polls. He also apparently said that the movement had paled in the last few months. The trigger was set off and the TRS promptly stated that the Congress had no intentions of granting statehood. While politicians play the blame game, emotions sway among the people, who don't know where they stand. About 700 youths of Telangana have committed suicide since December 2009 after union home minister P. Chidambaram’s statehood rollback statement.
Unhappy Telangana Congress MPs have taken their protests to Delhi saying that the UPA government must take a decision. And the man who’s come in for plenty of flak again is Chidambaram. Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar (Congress) lashed out at leaders like Chidambaram, who he says are responsible for spreading despair with their “silly” statements. When bandhs and protests were raging across Telangana last year, Chidambaram had remarked drily, “T-statehood is not like instant coffee”.
Meanwhile, the cycle of bandhs and violence in Telangana has begun all over again.
Rajya Sabha member-elect Renuka Chowdary takes her firebrand image very seriously. And her unopposed nomination to the Upper House has fuelled her sharp tongue. Renuka, who had once famously described Chandrababu Naidu "as shifty-eyed as a pick-pocket in a bus stand", is now taking on Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy. Jagan, who is currently touring Guntur, issued a statement saying the YSR Congress would ensure clean governance if it came to power. Renuka rubbished Jagan's statement by clapping her hands and saying it was a superb joke. "There is still time for April 1. Why is Jagan making these jokes now? Does he even know the spelling of clean governance," she asked. Reacting to his prediction that the Congress government would collapse soon, Renuka wondered if Jagan could predict how long he would stay out of jail, considering the brisk pace of the CBI probe against him.
And if anyone dares challenge Renuka's dedication to the Telangana cause, she has a favourite comeback. "Telangana is nobody's patent. The party (Congress) will take a decision at the right time."
The kidnap of two Italian tourists and an MLA in Orissa has set off alarm bells among political leaders in Andhra Pradesh. Naxals have been blasting panchayat office buildings, digging up roads and felling trees to prevent combing operations by Greyhounds on the Andhra-Orissa Border. Politicians and public representatives have been asked to stay away from Maoist-dominated areas. Police officials in AP feel that Orissa has been slow in responding to the hostage crisis though one tourist has been released. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik could do well with some help from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh if he asks, they feel.
Fast and Loose
If it’s one thing that God-fearing Telugus follow religiously, it is the panchangam (almanac). The Graha Bhumi Panchamgam written by astrologer Srinivas Gargeya has created a furore in Hyderabad thanks to its classification of women depending on what time of the day they attain puberty. The almanac says that girls who attain puberty after sunset are likely to be “loose”, given to stealing if they attain puberty in the evening and likely to end up widows if it happens at midnight. The panchamgam offers “solutions” to prevent these incidents from happening. Woman and child rights activists have filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission asking that the almanac be withdrawn immediately. They term it insulting to women and violative of the rights of girl children. Gargeya says he shouldn’t be targeted for putting down what is already available in ancient texts, in his panchangam. Woman rights activist P. Devi says that if one were to go by Gargeya’s almanac, most women are either loose, thieves or face the destiny of losing their spouses.
The Path to Nirvana
Chiranjeevi’s son Ram Charan Tej, who is all set to make his Bollywood debut opposite Priyanka Chopra, in a remake of Zanjeer, is caught in a controversy. A rain song in his forthcoming film Racha with Tamanna has been filmed against the backdrop of a Buddha statue. Given the nature of most rain songs, this too displays some passionate love scenes between the lead actors, with the benign Buddha statue as witness. Terming the song obscene and against Indian culture, a little known group named Jaatiya Arundhati Mahila Shakti, has filed a complaint in the Banjara Hills police station. The controversy is, however, doing wonders for Racha which is set to release in the first week of April. Movie-goers aren’t too bothered about the Buddha backdrop but are waiting to see whether the song is as steamy as it is made out to be.
After Sachin Tendulkar announced angrily that no one can tell him when to retire, a SMS joke about the Little Master is doing the rounds in Hyderabad. “Sachin will retire only after he shares the pitch with his son Arjun when the latter makes a debut as opening batsman in international cricket.”