POLITICS OF DIVISION - TRUTH BEHIND
The truth behind the “purportedly” sixty years of struggle for formation Telangana State is at the best. “a sweet lie” or “ a sour truth”. We shall come to that later. Whatever the struggle, the stand of Congress in the whole episode was dubious. It can be compared to the stand of Kauravas in refusing Kingdom to Pandavas and playing all dirty tricks on them to keep themselves in power. Even today, their intentions are highly suspect. Conflicting statements from various Congress leaders on the road map for creation of Telangana state amply prove that people of TG region again stand cheated. The onus now lies on the next government after 2014.
On 8th October Mr. Digvijay Sngh, the man in the news always for wrong reasons released two letters written by TDP and YSRCP, accepting formation of Telangana state and sought to drive home the point that these letters formed the basis for Congress to bite the bullet on Telangana. Hence, it should be presumed that Congress, prima facie, is not interested in the formation of Telangana but their hands were forced by their bête noirs in the state. This simple fact was lost on the Congress stalwart who lost his honour in MP. In the same breath, the High Command advised the leaders from Telangana to go round shopping Rahul and Sonia with the slogan, “We brought and they gave”. This is hypocrisy at the highest.
Coming to the letter of TDP, it was given to Pranab Committee, formed to study the nuances of state formation and arrive at consensus. The letter of TDP released by Singh was dated in the year 2008. Till December, 2009 no decision was taken on the letter nor did they accept that such a letter was ever received. The then Home Minister called an all party meeting in 2009 and announced on December, 9, 2009 “Process for formation of Telangana is initiated”. Even by then, Congress did not give any letter to their own Pranab Committee that they accepted in principle the formation of the state. There was a sinister game plan. If the tide turned against them in coastal Andhra they wanted to shoot over the shoulders of Naidu and say that he was responsible for division. They always had TRS Chief KCR, in their grip in his farm house. The double benefit scheme worked most of the times. See the case of minorities. They appease them with false promises, never fulfill them and whenever or for whatever reason communal riots happen, they blame BJP and try to woo Hindus too in the process. Now, they lost both.
But, in 2009 their game plan failed. Naidu, the astute politician he was, sent feelers that all his MLAs from Coastal AP would resign in protest. Congress sensed this and asked JC Diwakar Reddy from Anantapur to take the lead in resigning. Lagadapati, the loyal contractor and major beneficiary in Government largesse was prompted to revolt against his own party. By the time Naidu recalled his wits, Congress leaders from Coastal AP were in the forefront of opposing Telangana. Naidu, almost facing revolt from both sides, had to follow suit and their MLAs from coastal side resigned en masse. This gave a handle to Congress in consort with TRS to put the blame on Naidu for coming in the way of Telangana. It should be noted that Congress never committed in writing that they were for separation. Their only aim then or now was to gain political points both sides. As elections were far away, all parties played their street shows for some days and put the entire blame on Naidu for the fiasco. Another committee was formed that toured the state, gave a report that said neither this nor that. The final chapter in the report did not see light of the day and all kinds of speculations flew in thin air.
As his letter never saw the light of the day, even though Naidu was consistently insisting that his letter to Pranab Committee was final, a systemic campaign was launched which ran on these lines. “Why is he speaking about Pranab letter? Let him issue an open statement that he favoured Telangana.” All the while Congress, as a political party, did not spell out its stand. Post 2009 Naidu never said he was against Telangana nor that he favoured it. He changed tack. He went around telling that he stood by his letter and it was final. (None knows about the letter till Digvijay released it after five years to score points) It was for Congress to take a final call on the issue as he was not the one to give the state, was his stand. Even then, the letter did not see light of the day.
Come, 2013 what changed so fast? One is advent of Jagan on the scene in full swing and the sympathy he was gaining by being in jail. The second was the Panchayat elections where both TDP and YSRCP gave Congress a run for their money. Congress knew the impending Municipal elections would spell doom to them as their hold on urban areas was nil. Added to this some tutored opinion polls were giving a larger than life image to the jailed politician that he would sweep Seema-Andhra belt and TRS would sweep Telangana. This gave jitters to Congress that was looking for a wash out in the whole of India. They wanted to deal state by state. Hence, within a day a decision was taken to carve out Telangana. They already had an understanding with YSRCP that they would agitate for united Andhra and their 17 MLAs were asked to resign just before the announcement. TRS openly declared they would merge with Congress, though nobody relied on KCR and on his farm house politics. This way by killing their own party they wanted their Siamese twins on both sides to win the day for them. They would win seats for them and merge their parties in Congress to give them a remote chance of power again at the centre, was their plan.
Though posturing boldly opposing the division, all political parties resigned themselves to the division in 2013. But it boomeranged again on Congress. This time it was an angry revolt from people of Coastal Andhra. It was leaderless until APNGOs started hitting streets and almost all sections joined the revolt. Political parties realized what they lost and being in opposition Jagan and Naidu joined the chorus, one for united state and the latter for ‘justice to both sides”. Seeing the popular sentiment and purported agreement between Jagan and Congress, most Congress leaders saw their doom was not far off and one by one started revolting against the leadership, to the extent of some calling Sonia and Rahul names. This was unexpected.
Congress did the inevitable. For sixty four days they did nothing to move forward always saying “No going back on Telangana.” But, the tide changed when Sushma openly supported agitation if state was not carved out by December and Naidu and Modi shared stage where Naidu received a big applause. Sensing that some thing was amiss, in a knee jerk reaction they introduced a table note in the cabinet meeting and got it approved within hours. It was the same as the CWC resolution in toto. JP of Lok satta asked a relevant question, “If you adopted CWC resolution in toto why did it take 64 days to bring the note?” (Twitter) The reason was that the Congress expected NGOs getting tired of their agitation as they were not getting salaries and that they would withdraw strike and the agitation would peter out. It only aggravated by the day and joining in the strike by power board employees aggravated it further.
Jagan changed tack and as days passed by more and more Congressmen became restless about their future. In the meantime a systemic campaign was launched by disgruntled Congress men that it was the agreement between Jagan and Sonia that helped in the division of state. Jagan sensed his losses by such a campaign as he would lose ground to Naidu and BJP both sides. He openly praised Modi. This distanced his traditional supporters, mostly Christian minorities to rethink. Their natural choice would be TDP, as Congress is reduced to ashes there. Now, Jagan’s dilemma is adding to the discomfiture of Congress. One senior Congress leader went to the extent of saying that BJP in partnership with TDP would sweep Coastal AP.
Congress changed tack again. They reduced number of ministers in GOM thus making it questionable in courts and removed the time frame for formation of the state. In a way it is an indication of keeping the issue in limbo till elections are announced for LS. They are now between the frying pan and fire and most likely will fall in the fire. Who will win the day is still hanging by a thin thread. It is high time people realize that it was a high stakes political game being played by Congress to retain hold on AP, the only state they hope to win a few seats.
I started the blog stating, “The truth behind the “purportedly” sixty years of struggle for formation of Telangana State is at the best “a sweet lie” or “a sour truth”.” Though a few hardcore Telangana protagonists might feel aggravated, this is a fact of history as enunciated below. Most of the time, the struggle was confined to political maneuvering. They never made the ordinary man a partner in the struggle. He was used as an orange, peeled, the cover thrown out and politicians enjoyed the juice. The sequence of events since 1956 proves this point.
The state was ruled by CMS hailing from Congress from Rayalaseema for 5666 days, from TDP from Rayalaseema including NTR (who contested from Hidupur) for 5361 days. (Total 11027 days). CM s, all of whom are from Congress from Telangana ruled 3845 days and CM s from Coastal AP ruled 4098 days. It is clear that the Congress CMs hailing from Telangana who ruled for considerable time never made any attempt to carve out Telangana, though the party was in power both in state and centre.
The 1st SRC recommended Telangana be kept as Hyderabad State and that after 1961 elections it could be merged if 2/3rd majority in Assembly favored it. What acted on the mind of the Government of the day is mired in mystery, but the recommendation was not considered and an integrated AP was formed with a Gentlemen agreement. In fact, Nehru in all wisdom expressed the view that it was a matrimonial agreement with a divorce clause if the parties cant live together. Even if the entire state speaks Telugu there is a lot of diversity between regions in culture and development. That settles the issue to a major extent. In 1969, at the end of the gentlemen agreement period, politicians in Telangana thought the provisions were not implemented in right spirit and what happened was history. In a book written by T.N.Kaul,ex- secretary of External Affairs and published in 1982 he mentioned that Indira Gandhi, in principle accepted formation of Telangana but was dissuaded as the issue of Hyderabad was still in the UN and could not be taken up for consideration. In 1979 the Hyderabad case was closed by the UN. They could then have kept Hyderabad as a Union territory and divided the state. That did not happen as the demon of naxalism was purportedly hanging its sword there, more in Telangana.
In 1972 a “Jai Andhra Movement” was started in Coastal Andhra area against the upholding of the Mulki rules in Hyderabad area by SC. Surprisingly, Telangana leaders who spearheaded the separatist agitation in 1969 were silent on separation at that time. So, struggle for Telangana was confined to political leaders only and people of the region were exploited by the one party, Congress, to gain political mileage. This also proves the agitation was not raging for sixty years but spanned and panned out in two years only, in 1969 and 1973. It is a fact no politician either from Telangana or Coastal Andhra raised the issue even mildly from then onwards.
Moreover, during the 1969 agitation the properties belonging to NTR and Dr. C. Narayan Reddy were attacked by the agitators in view of a song in a Telugu film produced by the former and written by the latter. If the Telangana agitation was so seriously being waged continuously by people on ground, the groundswell of anger on NTR would never have died down. But TDP formed in 1983 received overwhelming support from Telangana so much so that even today Naidu boasts about cadre strength in Telangana and Rayalaseema. It is with open hands people of Telangana received NTR and continued supporting TDP. From this it is clear that people of Telangana were never involved in the clamour for a separate state after 1973and even politicians never bothered about the issue till KCR came on the scene.
And why did KCR, who remained silent all the years he was in TDP and never spoke about Telangana pride or injustice meted out to the region suddenly realize that all was going wrong by living together, with their own cousins? And did he take the agitation to its logical conclusion even when there were umpteen chances opened up to him during the past decade when he could have called the shots and got Telangana of his dreams? There are reasons. Hardcore TRS supporters might not accept this, but KCR even today would not allow formation of a separate state unless his family was given prime slots in future government formation including CM, FM and HM posts. With at least 20 Congress leaders throwing their towels on the CM chair it is not possible now for KCR to achieve his dream unless Congress gives it in writing. Congress does not want to do that as they know the long term consequences of the ‘bear hug’ of KCR. Hence, after Congress declared a state with Hyderabad remaining therein too, KCR continued fuelling the agitation on the other side of the state by calibrated venomous statements thus driving a wedge between people and keeping the pot boiling. Or else he would have merged his party in Congress now to make it easier for Congress to take a call finally.
With TDP the situation was no different. Naidu’s changing stance from “two eye” theory to “division acceptable” was playing with fire. He did not assess the ground level reality on both sides. On both sides people are happy living together or divided. Contentious issue was Hyderabad. Naidu should have taken a stand on Hyderabad saying he was acceptable to division. This should have been done soon after KCR broke ranks with him. He wanted to keep cadres on both sides and lost both. He came round to this point now, when it was too late. If he took a clear stand on Hyderabad, took BJP into confidence he could have resolved the issue long back. Now he developed the “congress syndrome” of dynasty politics by trying to project his son, Lokesh who is no better than Rahul in politics. At least when he boasted about vision 2020, as a statesman that he boasts himself now, he should have seen a capital like structure came up in coastal side too by diverting his energies and money spent on Hyderabad. That would have created opportunities that side too and migration would have reduced to a large extent. Today there would not have been a scramble for Hyderabad. Naidu’s lack of vision and his obsession of selling Hyderabad internationally killed vibrant cities like Vijayawada, Guntur, Rajhamundry, Nellore and Visakhapatnam so much so that they were turned into second class towns now. Between the years 1999-2004, Naidu could have used both his purported statesmanship and his proximity to Central leaders and could have ensured a smooth division, by bringing all parties across the table. He singularly failed. Now, he is paying the price.
On its part BJP too played a dubious role. With a statesman like AB. Vajpayee as the head of state and iron man L.K.Advani and the accepted leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely, both of whom command high respect across the state, they could have convinced Naidu the need for division settling the Hyderabad issue once and for all. Now, they take a stand in favour of division with the issue of Hyderabad still burning. One way, BJP as a party lost sympathy both sides, with no strong local leadership to back them Only Modi can salvage the party with his popularity on the rise on both sides despite all problems plaguing the state.
My earlier part dealt with the double game of Congress, by which they lost moorings in the state and they are deep in the seas. Even their top leadership lost the little love (they never commanded respect) of the masses despite all the pro-poor schemes and pseudo secular shouts.
In all, the state is on the edge. It lost heavily on revenue except excise revenue as people stopped everything and not liquor. The students lost a precious decade, youth lost jobs, seniors lost their loved ones and many migrated.
It is time all parties involved leave their egos, sit across a table and settle all issues amicably. It requires statesmanship. Our present leadership lacks it. Our PM is more interested in talking to Pakistan PM even when our soldiers are dying on the border, than talk to AP state leaders in a group. Sonia Gandhi is disinterested in India growing and living in peace for reasons best known to all. Rahul still has to take his thumb out of his mouth and depends on mom to deride ordinances. BJP seems to be lost totally on the issue. I am expecting Modi to speak out but surprisingly he is silent. If he takes a stand, talks to the concerned, tours both sides for a week even in the charged atmosphere assuaging troubled hearts, he would score cent per cent browny points politically. More so, he can solve a long standing problem with his statesmanship, as AP people now have lot of faith in him except those that do not want peace in state. These are few and far scattered. We hope for the best to come out soon from him.