The saddest story of Telangana is the all the movement till date is dominated by the petty political gains and for dominance by few vested interests. It is ironical that the Congress party also has sought to hide itself behind committees, reports and futile deliberations.
The first ever agitation in Telangana region started against the domination of English speaking bureaucrats appointed by the central government. The then central government appointed a civil servant M K Vellodi as First Chief Minister of Hyderabad state on January 26, 1950. He administered the state with the help of English educated bureaucrats from Madras state and Bombay state who were part of British India and familiar with Indian system unlike the bureaucrats of Hyderabad state who used completely different administrative system from British India. Urdu was the state language in Nizam state. In 1952, Dr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was elected chief minister of Hyderabad state in the first democratic election. During this time there were violent agitations by some Telanganites to send back bureaucrats from Madras state and to strictly implement rule by natives of Hyderabad.
State Reorganisation Commission was constituted in December 1953 for the creation of states on linguistic lines. The (SRC) discussed pros and cons of the merger of Telugu speaking Telangana region of Hyderabad state with Andhra state. Discussing the case of Telangana, para 378 of the SRC report said, “One of the principal causes of opposition of Vishalandhra also seems to be the apprehension felt by the educationally backward people of Telangana that they may be swamped and exploited by the more advanced people of the coastal areas.” In its final analysis SRC recommended against the immediate merger. In para 386 it said “After taking all these factors into consideration we have come to the conclusions that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana, if for the present, the Telangana area is to constitute into a separate state, which may be known as the Hyderabad state with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residuary Hyderabad state expresses itself in favour of such unification.”
After going through the recommendations of the SRC, the then central government led by Jawaharlal Nehru decided to merge Andhra state and Telangana to form Andhra Pradesh state on November 01, 1956 after providing safeguards to Telangana in the form of gentleman’s agreement. The personal short sighted opinions of Pt Nehru resulted in social and political unrest in the region.
12 years after the formation of Andhra Pradesh, people of Telangana expressed their distress and angst against the lackadaisical attitude of the governments in implementing the agreements and guarantees. On January 19, 1969, an all party accord was reached to ensure the proper implementation of Telangana safeguards. Telangana leaders were not satisfied with the accord. The movement became violent. The army had to be called in. Agitation continued under the leadership of newly formed political party Telangana Praja Samiti led by Marri Chenna Reddy. After winning majority of Lok Sabha seats, in a sudden development Chenna Reddy merged the TPS into the Congress betraying the aspirations and people of Telangana.
Another movement in Andhra region called Jai Andhra movement was started in 1972. Outwardly, the objective of the Jai Andhra movement is to re-form a separate state of Andhra combining coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, basically it was aimed at dethroning the then chief Minister P V Narasimha Rao. For the second time the people for betrayed.
Proponents of a separate Telangana state feel that the agreements, plans, and assurances from the legislature and Lok Sabha over the last fifty years have not been honoured, and as a consequence Telangana has remained neglected, exploited, and backward. They allege that the experiment of Andhra Pradesh to remain as one state has proven to be a futile exercise and that separation is the best solution.
On September 21, 1973, a political settlement was reached with the Government of India with a six-point Formula. It was agreed upon by the leaders of the two regions to prevent any recurrence of such agitations in the future. To avoid legal problems, constitution was amended (32nd amendment) to give the legal sanctity to the six-point formula.
In 1985, when Telangana employees complained about the violations to six point formula, government enacted Government Order 610 (GO 610) to correct the violations in recruitment. As Telangana people complained about non-implementation of GO 610, in 2001, government constituted Girglani commission to look into violations. Girglani commission report has gathered huge dust.
In 1997, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a resolution in Kakinada in East Godavari district seeking a separate Telangana. The infamous slogan “one vote-two states” did not yield any results for the BJP.
In 2000, Congress party MLAs from the Telangana region formed the Telangana Congress Legislators Forum and submitted momorandum to their president Sonia Gandhi requesting the support the Telangana state.
A new party called Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) led by K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) was formed in April 2001 with the single-point agenda of creating a separate Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital. KCR resorted to launch a party when the then TDP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu refused to accommodate him in his cabinet. Basicaly TRS was a political outfit to counter Naidu’s prospects.
In 2001, the Congress Working Committee sent a resolution to the NDA government for constituting a second SRC to look into the Telangana state demand. This was rejected by then Union Home Minister LK Advani citing that smaller states were neither viable nor conducive to the integrity of the country.
Succumbing to the pressures from an ally Telugu Desam Party, in April 2002, Advani wrote a letter to MP A. Narendra rejecting a proposal to create Telangana state explaining that “regional disparities in economic development could be tackled through planning and efficient use of available resources”. He said that the NDA government, therefore, does
“not propose creation of a separate state of Telangana”.
However in 2012, Advani said that if their then partner TDP cooperated during NDA tenure, a separate state of Telangana could have been created. This was confirmed by the President of TDP Chandrababu Naidu on September 01, 2013 in a public meeting.
In 2004 elections, the Congress party and the TRS forged an electoral alliance in the Telangana region to consider the demand of separate Telangana state. Congress came to power in the state and formed a coalition government at the centre; TRS joined the coalition after the Common Minimum Programme of the coalition government included that the demand for separate Telangana state will be considered. Though a full five year term lapsed, the Telangana demand did not move an inch further.
In February 2009, the state government declared that it had no objection, in principle, to the formation of separate Telangana and that the time had come to move forward decisively on this issue. To resolve related issues, the government constituted a joint house committee. During the 2009 general elections, all the major parties in Andhra Pradesh including Telugu Desam Party supported the formation of Telangana.
With sudden demise of Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, the Congress party faced a leadership crisis and also created a political vacuum in the state. To regain its strength in the state and to forge an alliance with TRS, the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on December 09, 2009 announced that they were willing to form Telangana state a gift to the people of the region on the occasion Ms Sonia Gandhi’s birthday. This has resulted in protests in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions demanding Samaikya Andhra movement.
Fearing a backlash, the Congress party immediately took a back step and on December 23, announced that nothing would be done without a consensus among political parties in the state. A Joint Action Committee was formed as an umbrella organisation to lead Telangana movement. The JAC was also used as platform for several underground CPI-ML activists to resurface in public and escape from police arrests and actions.
As the heat was gathering, the Congress government in a bid to avoid the issue for time being appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice Sri Krishna on February 03, 2010. Few days before the Sri Krishna committee submitted its report, KCR sent a feeler to the Congress high command that he was ready for a rapprochement and even ready to wash the feet of Sonia Gandhi if Telangana is created besides dissolving his party.
The newly appointed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde organised an all party meeting on December 28, 2012 which was atteneded by 8 political parties. TDP representatives gave a letter signed by its president Naidu which said that it never withdrawn its letter to Pranab Mukharjee in 2008 supporting Telangana state formation.
Apprehending that several Congress legislators and MPs flee to other political parties in the state, the Congress core committee took a decision to build pressure on the high command for creation of Telangana state.
The Congress Working Committee passed an unanimous resolution on July 30, 2013 to request the union government to take steps in accordance with the Constitution to form a separate state of Telangana. It proposed that Hyderabad, the present capital of Andhra Pradesh, would serve as the joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for ten years.
On October 03, 2013, the Union cabinet approved the creation of a new state of Telangana by bifurcating the existing state of Andhra Pradesh.
On December 05, 2013, the Cabinet approved the Telangana draft bill prepared by the Group of Ministers (GoM).
On December 11, President of India sent the bill to Andhra Pradesh state assembly to elicit its views. The president gave 42 days or until January 23 to respond on the issue.
On January 23, the President gave 7 days extension, until January 30, for assembly to give its views on Telangana draft bill.
On January 30, 2014, Andhra Pradesh assembly speaker declared that assembly completed the debate. A compilation of over 9,072 suggestions and amendments received in writing from members of AP assembly and transcripts of 87 members who had spoken on the Bill were forwarded to President of India.
In a surprise development, the Speaker of the AP Assembly accepted the Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s notice of resolution to reject the AP Reorganisation Bill and declared that the resolution passed amidst pandemonium and protests from Telangana MLAs. The resolution was placed in the house and passed within 15 seconds.
On February 7, Union cabinet cleared the Telangana Bill and planned to introduce in upper house of Parliament with 32 amendments. Amendments included the details of a financial package for Seemandhra to address their concerns.
By Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu