Published on February 13th, 2014 | by admin0
Telangana Turmoil and the Political Opportunism – Gutta Rohith
Disclaimer: The views expressed in “Regular Columns” section are completely of the writer’s. The articles or writers do no’t represent NRI Samay
Note: This article was written before the AP-reorg bill was introduced in the parliament. Expect another article based on how the parliament discussion went and the outcome.
The recent Telangana movement (since 2009) which has a long history of struggle is been used by the political parties to strengthen their base. The “Political Movement” of Telangana statehood is more of political & economic opportunism for handful of politicians and their front organizations. The movement which was hijacked from the hands of sincere youth and students is now used to settle their political and economic issues. This article tries to explain the opportunistic politics of three biggest aspirants in the Telangana region, Congress, Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Rastra Samithi
Congress party which was responsible for the “Merging” of Andhra and Telangana into Andhra Pradesh and now initiated the process of demerger, just for its political gains. The only Prime Minister from Andhra Pradesh P.V.Narasimha Rao was an integrationist and he stood for the cause of United Andhra way back in 1969. The then supremo of Congress Indira Gandhi stood for United Andhra stressing the need for national integrity. But with the changing time and emergence of strong regional political parties, it lacked proper strategy to counter such forces.
Let’s take an example to understand the highhandedness of Congress party towards AP. Andhra Pradesh gave 33 parliament seats to Congress even during anti-congress wave after the emergency period. Such a strong hold was taken over by the NTR mania, and TDP emerged as an alternative. Congress managed to win in 1989 elections with the help of anti-incumbency wave. Even then it continued with its high command dictation politics. In a span of 5 years it changed chief ministers thrice. So people were vexed once again. TDP took this opportunity and came back to the power strongly.
Congress needed something strong to confront TDP. Chandra Babu Naidu’s capitalistic mode of development and his lack of outreach in Telangana area gave good opportunity for Congress, led by Late. Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. Under YSR’s guidance around 40 Telangana MLAs submitted a request to party high command to include the Telangana statehood in their manifesto. With the same promise Congress aligned with TRS during 2004 general elections and came to power.
KCR was sent to central level with shipping berth. In their manifesto during 2004 congress didn’t promise Telangana directly. It only mentioned that it will constitute second State Re-Organization Committee to look into the issue of separate stated demand. By then the NDA government had already granted Jhanrkhand, Uttharakhand and Chhatisgarh during their tenure. After Congress and TRS came to power, there was no movement in the Telangana demand. The difference between YSR and his predecessor was, his predecessor way of functioning was completely autocratic and his way of functioning was completely feudalistic.
During the same period YSR didn’t even bother to look into the dam constructions in the upper states. Maharashtra increased the height of Babli dam resulting is less inflow of Godavari waters and YSR government acted completely dumb keeping in mind that the counterpart is also Congress government. To keep his Jalayagnam scheme running he even gave letter to Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal that Andhra Pradesh won’t be asking any right over the surplus waters. Considering that affidavit KWDT recently allotted surplus waters to Karnataka and Maharashtra neglecting the right of Andhra Pradesh to use the surplus waters as a lower state. This is again a death bell for the farmers in that region. During the same UPA government tenure it amended the constitution to make the printing of the statutory warning on beedi packets mandatory. Beedi rolling is one of the major occupations in the Telangana households and it came as a big blow to the people.
With all this it again went to elections in 2009. This time its main ally TRS withdrew its support to congress as it had failed in delivering its promise of constituting second SRC. It went with the coalition called “Mahakutami” formed by TDP, CPI, and CPI (M) as TDP had changed its stand from against Telangana to for Telangana. One incident which had happened during the election campaign explains the entire opportunism of Congress. The then CM late YSR who was doing canvassing in Telangana again promised them regarding the Telangana statehood. But just on the last day of canvassing that too at the end of the time in a meeting in Rajhamundry a place in Coastal Andhra he gave this statement “If TDP comes to power you all have to take Visa to go to Hyderabad”. By this he meant to say that if TDP comes to power Telangana will be granted and Hyderabad will be lost for Seemandhra people. This sceptical thought among people led to victory for congress second time in the state with a very low margin (The difference of between Congress and its main opponent TDP was just 1%).
YSR died in a plane crash just after he resumed charge as Chief Minister and then Finance Minister Konijeti Rosaiah became the chief minister. Rosaiah’s loyalty was to the Congress high command, and not to the people of AP. This again gave an opportunity for Telangana demanders to raise their voice for separate statehood. Taking advantage of this situation KCR announced his decision to go on fast till death for the cause of Telangana. As explained before all the events turned out be boomerang for Congress as each and every decision taken was completely centralized and didn’t take into account the views of its leaders (leave away taking from people).
In the meantime Rosaiah was replaced by Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy as Chief Minister. With this change the issue of Telangana took a new turn. Being a staunch integrationist KKR opposed any move by the high command towards Telangana. He openly declared that he will oppose the decision and any course of action till end. He had conducted press meets just to explain why granting Telangana is unnecessary. The ex-DGP of Andhra Pradesh Dinesh Reddy after signing off from his post alleged that Chief Minister forced him to say that Maoism will start resurfacing if Telangana is granted.
The noteworthy point here even tough Kiran is challenging the high command each and every time, High command never questioned him on his loyalty stand and took any action against him( Basically taking action and making sure that his career will end is congress mark politics when it comes to opposing the high command decision). P.V.Narasimha Rao who opposed high command and went on his path was almost disowned by party. But that is not the case with Kiran.
Even though Kiran backed Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers association strike which went on for months there is no action from its side. By this it is very clear that Kiran is doing each and everything with the support of its high command. Recently he staged a dharna in front of Jantar Mantar opposing the decision to introduce the bill in parliament. When Aravind Kejriwal did the same he was criticized as being “Un Democratic” and being “Anarchic” but that’s not the case with Kiran. Even if we look into the Congress MP’s, MLA’s and Ministers every one claimed that they had resigned from their posts opposing the decision, But the point here is none of them sent their resignation letters to Speaker of Parliament, instead they sent them to Prime Minister and President of INC. Only Lagadapati Rajgopal from Vijayawada constituency sent his letter to speaker requesting to accept his resignation.
From all the above it is quite visible that Indian National Congress and AP state congress are playing with the issue of Telangana and they don’t have any intention to solve this issue.
Telugu Desam Party was supporter of United Andhra Pradesh once upon a time, going back to the time of formation of party and its founder N.T.Ramarao. Being a movie star, through his movies he used to express his opinions on Telangana and used to stress the necessity for being united. He was well received by Telangana region people. His regime was Socialistic and his measures had greater impact on Telangana region. In-fact under his government irrigation projects started and gained pace in Telangana region. So everything was well clear under his rule. But once Nara Chandrababu Naidu became chief minister everything started changing drastically. His rule was mainly capitalistic and to an extent autocratic. It raised lot of opposition in Telangana region and strengthened the demand for it. At the same time people like Akula Bhumaih, Gaddar were working for garnering support among people for this demand.
The year 1997 marked the beginning of raising voice for Telangana once again. With KCR forming his own party this entire issue of Telangana took a new turn in TDP. The internal demand to stand on side of Telangana started growing. People like Devender Goud, Nagam Janardhan Reddy openly raised this issue. But TDP firmly took the stand on United Andhra Pradesh and went for 2004 elections. It lost to congress very badly in these elections. Then the necessity to think once again over Telangana was understood. During the same time while gearing up for 2009 elections another party “Praja Rajyam Party” was founded by Telugu movie star Chiranjeevi came into existence. Looking into the core political calculations it seemed very dangerous for TDP as it is going to split considerable number of TDP votes. At the same time the person who is considered as backbone for TDP in Telangana Mr.Devender Goud left the party and established his own party “Nava Telangana Praja Party” (later this party was merged in Praja Rajyam Party) which was a huge loss for TDP in Telangana region. So the necessity to from alliance with remaining parties was understood.
The only parties left were TRS, MIM and Left parties. It cannot align with MIM as MIM is direct opponent for TDP in Hyderabad region and also partly because of Zahed Ali Khan (Siasat Editor) is with TDP and there is rivalry between Zahed and Owaisi. So the only option left is “Left” and TRS. Then it came up with new stand i.e. Pro-Telangana. With this new stand it is able to align with TRS during 2009 elections promising its support for Telangana. But these efforts failed to yield fruitful result and it lost in 2009 elections with just 1% margin.
After the elections loss, again TDP & TRS split accusing each other for the loss. After the death of YSR this issue gained more prominence and it resulted in Congress annoucing Telangana. But just after Congress announced it Chandra Babu Naidu came out criticizing its decision to grant. Not to forget he agreed to support for grating Telangana. In fact TDP gave a letter in 2008 supporting Telangana. The same was repeated during the All Party meeting held. It sent two representatives one from Seemandhra and the other from Telangana region to give their opinions. Indeed a very clever strategy.
TDP used to say that it never went back on the letter it gave in 2008 but one of the representatives used to give opinion in opposition to Telangana. Thus it used to maintain the status-Quo. Chandra Babu Naidu said that both the regions are like his both eyes and he cannot do in justice to one region for the sake of the other region. The TDP Telangana leaders used to give statements supporting Telangana, while Seemandhra leaders opposing it. Chandra Babu Naidu never made an attempt to keep his party leaders on single stand. In the name of internal democracy he maintained the status –quo. In fact when government constituted GoM in August 2013 to look into this issue and when GoM convened All-Party meeting to discuss this issue TDP boycotted that saying it is undemocratic. It didn’t even give its suggestions/ advices when GoM called for open forum suggestions and advices regarding various issues. But still it used to blame Central government for going in a haphazard manner. It used to continue with its “Double Standard” ideology. Even today we can see contradictory statements from its leaders as well as its supremo on this issue.
Telangana Raastra Samithi. With being denied a cabinet berth and asked to adjust with Assembly speaker post, Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhara Rao came out of TDP and formed TRS on the slogan of attaining Telangana statehood. When he was in TDP, he was opponent of G.O. 610 (which he now quotes day and night to explain the injustice done to Telangana region). According to him G.O. 610 was acting as a barrier to meritocracy and it should be scrapped for the greater good of state. He also opined against the demand of Telangana in Assembly saying that these types of separationist movements are threat to the state integrity. But just after he was denied the cabinet dramatically all his stands took a complete U-turn. This itself was clear indication of his lack of commitment for the separate state.
After forming the party he went on with Congress during 2004 elections as congress included second SRC demand in their manifesto. After winning from both Siddipeta assembly constituency and Karimnagar parliament constituency the elections he was offered the union ministry of Shipping and he accepted to take charge of that ministry. Look at the irony!!! Telangana region doesn’t have any coast and what will KCR do for Telangana by being minister of Shipping.
Later he then became Union minister of Labour Welfare. During his tenure as minister the decision to make mandatory for beedi packets to carry a skull and crossbones picture as a warning was taken and was implemented. Beedi rolling was one of the major occupations in Telangana region and without any prior rehabilitation package to the workers this decision was taken hitting the lives of beedi workers. He failed to achieve anything to the region during his tenure as union minister.
During the same time when TDP went on to protest against the Maharashtra decision to raise the height of Babli dam he was not bothered at all. According to him and his party raising the height will have zero effect on the farmers of Telangana region and he indeed criticized TDP for making each and every issue political. If TRS would have acted then, because of the coalition pressure UPA would have taken concrete steps to mitigate the issue. But his ministry post is of more important than the problems of the people whom he claims to be fighting for. Babli Later he withdrew his support to UPA citing the lack of will for clearing the issue of Telangana.
YSR government gave an affidavit on behalf of Government of Andhra Pradesh to KWDT (Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal) as their promise to not to claim rights over surplus water. KWDT showed this affidavit while supporting their judgement of allocation of waters to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Being a lower state Andhra Pradesh lost its right to use the surplus water. While all this happening TRS was nowhere opposing the wicked moves of late YSR. One more point to explain their shallowness is regarding Polavaram project. Because of this project many tribal villages in fought against this. Lakshmi Rajam (media and infrastructure industry baron) who is considered very close to KCR is one of the bidders for Polavaram dam construction. All these incidents clearly explain the nexus between KCR led TRS and others.
During 2009 elections he went along with TDP which was once upon a time staunch opponent of Telangana. TRS contested in 45 seats and it was able to win only in 10 seats. In fact one incident here clearly explains the true colours of TRS. Kukatpally Constituency which falls under Hyderabad constituency was allotted to TRS as a part of alliance pact. Looking into the demography of Kukatpally constituency it was dominated by people for Coastal Andhra region especially Krishna, Godavari and Guntur districts. How come TRS is expected to win there? Why did he agree for that seat? All these questions are still unanswered.
Now coming to the post YSR regime and the time when KCR started his fast to pressurize central government for granting Telangana. Parts of the movement which was led by TRS was has violence and terrorizing people from other regions who got settled there long back. In fact these people started calling the local people who came from other places of Andhra Pradesh as “Settlers” and started demanding them to leave Hyderabad. Several slogans such as “Jago, Bhago” were given to scare the people residing in Hyderabad. This resulted in non-cooperation as well as support from people in Hyderabad to TRS and to Telangana. The only question is for what purpose did TRS resort to such activities? He even provided the option of merging his party with Congress if Telangana is granted as for him Telangana is more important than party. But now almost the bill is to be introduced in both the houses (Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Hameed Ansari rejected the bill to be introduced in Rajaya Sabha as it is against the process) still he is yet to merge his party? So?
Finally it is upon people to look into various issues mentioned above and to come to a conclusion about whom to believe and whom to support. All these experiences should help us in framing an understanding of whether social movements should be within the people’s movements circle or should be main streamed into politics. If main streamed can they be carried out genuinely without any vested interests?
Hopefully some genuine discussion might happen in parliament regarding this issue and a solution applicable to each and every one might be discussed in near future.
About The Writer: Gutta Rohith, is a student of Xavier Institute of Management pursuing Post Graduation Diploma in Rural Management and interested in Politics and Social Movements. You can reach him at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org