Demand For Telangana State A Peep Into The Past
I have read the article and three letters on the subject of Telangana in the January 22 issue of Uday India. I am an intense student and observer of Telangana Seemandhra divide for last more than 60 years. Let me put the record straight.
After the fall of the Kakatiya kingdom to General Malik Kafur of Alauddin Khilji, the Delhi Sultan, almost all the Telugu speaking areas had gone under Muslim rulers. Bahmanis, Qutub Shahis and finally the Nizam. The Telugu people were together during this period of nearly 500 years. By the year 1800, the Nizam ceded Circar districts, the coastal area and Rayalaseema districts first to the French and later to the British as the price for getting protection from Hyder Ali-Tipu Sultan and later, from the Marathas. Therefore, the Telugu people got divided into the Nizams’ Muslim rule and the British rule. What is called Seemandhra i.e., coastal and ceded districts have made progress in education, in political awareness, founding educational institutions, businesses and industries; they had representative governing bodies like Panchayats, district boards and legislative assemblies. They had also waged intense nationalist movements against the British under the leadership of Congress and anti-zamindari and capitalist exploitation under the leadership of communists. Therefore political awareness in Seemandhra area has been excellent. They were MLAs, and ministers from the 1920s and ran governments.
In contrast to what has happened in Seemandhra, the Telugu people in what is called Telangana were under the Muslim rule of Nizam deprived, suppressed, exploited and oppressed people. Urdu was the official language and medium of instruction from the primary to the university stage. It was the language in the courts from the lowest to the highest. There were no schools teaching Telugu (Marathi and Kannada) anywhere in the Telangana region. 90 per cent of the jobs were given to Muslims who constituted 10 per cent of the population. There were no Panchayats, no district boards, no legislative assembly, no democratic processes until the liberation of Telangana from the Nizam’s; rule by the armed forces of the Indian Union in September 1948. Thus, there was a separation of 148 years in education, political consciousness and representative institutions people to attain modern education as between Telangana and Seemandhra.
The Fazal Ali Commission for reorganisation of states noted this fact in 1955-56. That is why reflecting the public opinion in Telangana, recommended a separate state for Telangana people, while it recommend merger of Maratha and Kananda speaking distincts in their respective states. The Congress party ascertained public opinion in Telangana in 1956 through a senior leader, SK Patel. He reported that 95 per cent of the Telangana people were for a separate state, and they were against immediate formation of the bigger Andhra Pradesh state. It has however been a fact that the Telangana people were more conscious of their ancient Andhra heritage than even Seemandhra people. This emotional consciousness made them to found in the 1920s and 1930s the Andhra Mahasabha, the Krishnadevaraya Andhra Bhasha Nilayam, Vemana Andhra Grandhalayam etc, with the adjective of Andhra. It did not mean that they were not conscious of Telangana. Telangana was the name the Nizam pasted on the nine Telugu-speaking districts to distinguish them from Marathi-speaking Marathwada and Kannada-speaking Karnataka districts in his state.
The compelling reason for merging Telangana to form AP in 1956 was the evil alliance of the remnants of the Islamist goonda Razakars and armed communists. While the communists fought the Razakars’ before liberation of Hyderabad, they allied themselves with the Razakars remnants and waged war against the Indian Union from September 1948 to September 1951 as part of communists “revolution” to overthrow the Nehru government which they characterised as a stooge of Anglo-American imperialism. India’s armed forces had put down this guerrilla war. They dealt mercilessly and eliminated most of the arms-wielding guerillas. A communist delegation comprising of Sri Rajeshwara Rao, Makineni Basavapunnaiah, Ajoy Ghosh and SA Dange went incognito to Moscow in 1951. After long discussions with Joseph V Stalin, on the orders of Stalin, the communist war on the Indian union was given up. The communists participated in the 1952 general elections. In those elections out of 100 seats in the Telangana region of the then Hyderabad state Congress could get only about 45. The People’s Democratic Front of communists got as many as 45. Congress was able to form the government in Hyderabad state as Marathwada and Kannada districts returned Congress candidates. That was headed by late Burgula Ramakrishna Rao. Burgula was also for a separate state for Telangana but the then Home Minister of India, Pt Govind Ballabh Pant called the Telangana and Andhra leaders. He told them that it was with the use of armed forces that the Indian Union could put down the disruptionist, divisionist and Islamist Razakars and Communists. Even then, the Congress could not won a majority in the 1952 elections in Telangana. He could not allow a separate Telegnana then because it would be ruled by a combination of Razakars and anti-India Communists. Telangana leaders could write any conditions; they would be accepted by the Seemandhra leaders. The conditions laid down by Telangana leaders were accepted and were incorporated in what came to be known as “gentlemen’s agreement” between the leaders of Telangana and Seemandhra. It was on the basis of this agreement that Telangana was merged with Andhra state in 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh.
True gentlemen are rare in political party life. The first Chief Minister of AP, Sri Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy violated the gentleman’s agreement by dispensing with the Dy Chief Minister which ought to have gone to Telangana. Then followed a series of other violations.
By 1969, the Telangana leaders were totally frustrated. They demanded a separate state. The movement was led by the redoubtable Dr Chenna Reddy. Indira Gandhi wanted not to break up Andhra Pradesh. She ordered the Chief Minister, Sri Brahmananda Reddy to put down the Telangana movement with an iron hand including the use of guns to kill the violent demonstrators. Before the movement could reach every village and every district, it was suppressed. Chenna Reddi’s Telangana Praja Samithi won all but one MP seat, routing the Congress in Telangana. Within a few months, Chenna Reddy and his followers were bought off by Indira Congress. They merged with the Congress and became minister in Delhi and AP. In 1972, the Seemandhra people started a movement for the break-up of Andhra Pradesh, for a separate Andhra state. Indira Gandhi again decided that the state would not be split. As in 1969, she ordered the Chief Minister to shoot the agitators and crush the “Jai Andhra” movement. It was crushed before it could go to each and every village.
This time the Telangana movement was started in the years 2001. In these 10 years, it has gone into every village. The most illiterate people even are emotionally charged for separation. This 10 years long movement for Telangana is just like the Pakistan movement in 1940s. It has whipped up emotions and there is no room for any reason or argument in the face of emotions and hatred and intolerance. Statistics prove that including Hyderabad, Telangana is more developed than Rayalaseema and the north-east coastal Andhra. But statistics are not going to enlighten or convince people where emotions are concerned. It was emotion that led to the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan. It was emotions that led to the break-up of Pakistan. It is emotions that led to the break-up of the former USSR. The movement in Telangana for a separate state is undoubtedly a people’ movement. It is now taken over by the above-ground Maoists whose visible personality and militant leader is Prof M Kodandaram of the Osmania University.
The cabinet in Andhra Pradesh is split. The Telangana ministers are on one side and the Seemandhra ministers are on the other side. It is just like the Muslims League on one side and the Congress ministers on the other in the interim cabinet of India under viceroy Wavell in 1947-48. It was no cabinet with collective goals and responsibility. The Telangana sentiment has divided the TDP and the Congress Party and the Praja Rajyam and Lok Satta and even communists. Only the BJP has been consistently for Telangana. MLAs and MPs from the two regions are in two separate camps. The situation is exactly like that as between Muslim League and Congress in the period 1942-47. Just as the Muslim League had give a call for direct action on the August 16, 1946, there are a calls for direct action by the protogonists of a separate Telangana state. That would lead to terrible violence and loss of life and property. The ruling British then called for an agreement between Muslim League and Congress. It could not come. Now repeating what the British did, the brokers in the Congress Party and the high-command are asking the irreconcilably feuding groups, to come to a mutually acceptable solution. The advisers of Resident non Indian (RNI) Sonia Gandhi and the anti-Telugu Chidambaram and Moily (who are interested in the entire IT industry and businesses moving from Hyderabad to Chennai and Karnataka respectively) are wanting that there should be an understanding between the Telangana and Seemandhra leaders and parties. This would be as impossible as it was between Muslim League and the Congress in the 1940s. The wise British found the solution; they divided India as demanded by Muslims, created Pakistan and quit India.
The demand for a separate state of Telangana is not unjust or anti-India. The people are not wanting a separate sovereign state. The Sikhs who demanded and got a state are 100 per cent Indians. Telangana people wanting a state will continue to be Indian after their state is created. It will be a state with more than 35 million people; bigger than 10 other states in India. If Hindi-speaking people can have half-a-dozen states; the Bengali, Marathi and Tamil-speaking people can have two states each, the 90 million Telugu-speaking people can easily have three states—Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema. The small Rayalaseema will have more population than many states like J&K, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and all the north-eastern states.
By delaying the decision to bifurcate or trifurcate the state of Andhra Pradesh , it is obvious that the high-command is fiddling while the Telugu land is burning. Fiddling is a heritage of the present rulers of India-Nero was fiddling when Rome was burning.
The opposition to the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh is not coming from the vast majority of common Seemandhra people. It is from a few thousand rich, wealthy capital having persons who invested heavily in and around Hyderabad and a few lakh Seemandhra families who moved to their capital city Hyderabad for better life. The phenomenal growth and development of Hyderabad has taken place only in the last ten years and largely because of the enterprises of the Seemandhra people. But they are not going to be declared as non-Indians or non-Telugu people in Telengna. If the British industrialists in India opposed the Independence of India because their interests would be affected, would the British government have listened to them and refused Independence to India? So it should not be the interest of a few tens of thousands of investors that should decide the future of the state. Actually, in the last 54 years of AP, there has not been a single business or industry which created a 1000 jobs anywhere in Seemandhra. Thousands of people sold their fertile lands and invested that money in Hyderabad, the capital of their state. In order to relieve them of their anxiety of second-class treatment in Telangana, the area that has come to be known as Cyberabad which is now having a separate Police Commissionarate could be declared as Union Territory. Hyderabad should continue to be the capital of Telangana . If Cyberabad be union territory, then it will attract capital from all over India and both Hyderabad and Cyberabad will continue to develop. It may not be a great deprivation for the two states.
The rulers in Delhi are fiddling while the Telugu land is burning. In this third movement for reorganisation of the state, about 400 students had died. Thousands of crores worth of businesses had been affected. Every day, hatred between the two people is increasing. Violence is increasing. Wisdom, patriotism and statesmenship demand that a decision to reorganise the state must be taken immediately. If the opinion of Rayalaseema people is ascertained, they certainly would ask for a state of their own. Such a demand has been there since the 1920. So it is better to solve this problem by creating three states—Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema with Cyberabad portion around Hyderabad as union territory. It is here that 80 per cent of the Seemandhra people and their investments are located not only for business and industry but for self employment, education and development. Andhra and Rayalaseema could build new planned capital cities for which the union government should fund generously.
By Dr TH Chowdary