By Rahul Singh:
The issue of Telangana is not new. In fact, it is as old as Indian independence. In 1947 the Nizam of Hyderabad wanted Hyderabad state (which included Telangana) to remain independent. It took a ‘Join India Movement’ and the Indian Army to fight the private Razakar Muslim army, fighting for continuation of the Nizam’s rule, to liberate and merge Hyderabad state with India. In 1952, the Mulki agitation arose after many jobs were taken by people from coastal Andhra. Then in 1956 in spite of various concerns among Telangana people, Hyderabad and Andhra states merged to form Andhra Pradesh with reassurances of certain priorities and special protection to be given for the improvement of Telangana. Prime Minister Nehru famously compared the merger to a matrimonial alliance having “provisions for divorce” if the partners in the alliance cannot get on well.
After the 10th March Million March, the movement was suspended for 2 months owing to students’ examinations. Following the nationwide assembly elections concluding in May, it was reported that the Congress will wait till 2013 to announce a decision on Telangana issue and that the Central government has decided against creation of Telangana state and will instead announce a political & economic package for the region. The Centre doesn’t want to encourage similar movement for formation of Gorkhaland in West Bengal. Both TJAC & the Telangana Congress leaders set fresh deadlines to renew their agitation.
Congress MPs decided to wait till June 25, and then extended it to July 5, and vowed to launch an indefinite hunger strike and resign if separate statehood is not achieved by then. As a solution to the Telangana problem, Congress has appointed Damodar Raja Narasimha, a Dailt leader from the Telangana region, as the Deputy Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 10th June. In an attempt to rekindle the protests, a unique programme was organized by Telangana JAC where people came together on Hyderabad’s roads for a cook-and-eat agitation. On 29th June Rajanarasimha said the central leadership of the Congress will take a decision on Telangana statehood in the coming few weeks.
With this the Telangana movement has entered a crucial phase. On July 4th and 5th, a number of MLAs, ministers and MPs resigned protesting the delay in formation of Telangana. This took the total of Telangna MLAs resigned to 100 out of 118. The Telangana Advocates Joint Action Committee (TAJAC) threatened that people who do not support separate Telangana will not be permitted to stay in Hyderabad. Agitation against a separate Telangana has also gained momentum with a student protest held in Ongole on 9th July and some non-Telangana Congress and TDP MLAs offering to quit. With no clear solution visible yet the state is heading for more turmoil. The Centre would be desperate to avoid a repeat of the 1969 mishap when more than 300 people were killed in police firings during massive protests, across the Telangana region. The major issue is of inclusion of Hyderabad which is the single invaluable glittering prize. Both regions want it but contributions to its greatness in the modern era have been made by inhabitants of all parts of AP. All parties want to be sympathetic to public sentiments and hence are riding two horses.
While separate statehood might not be the most stable option, keeping the state united with special packages for Telangana also does not solve the grievances that have taken lives of 313 people in suicides between 30 November 2009 and 27 February 2010 alone. Certainly there are many questions yet to be answered in the never ending saga of Telangana. The Congress is certainly to be blamed in the indecisiveness being shown, but the opposing BJP is also guilty of exploiting the situation when it itself could not do anything for settling the issue when it was the ruling party. Let us hope the protests do not erupt in its violent and brutal form again for the sake of humanity and democracy.