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'We will fight tooth and nail to keep Andhra Pradesh united'

Last updated on: October 11, 2011 16:02 IST

'We will fight tooth and nail to keep Andhra Pradesh united'

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Vicky Nanjappa

Even as Telangana awaits a positive announcement from the Union government on its demand for statehood, one cannot forget the voices for a unified Andhra Pradesh.

While Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekara Rao drops hints about Hyderabad remaining a Union Territory for five years after the creation of Telangana state, leaders seeking a unified Andhra Pradesh say he is shooting through his hat.

Payyavula Keshav, controversial legislator from the Telegu Desam Party, has been the most vocal about a unified Andhra Pradesh. He feels that dividing Andhra Pradesh will have a disastrous effect.

In an interview with
rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Keshav explains his stand on the issue and says that the best way to solve the problem is to educate the people of Telangana about the benefits they would have if they remained in Andhra Pradesh.

It appears that the Union government is on the brink of announcing Telangana.

According to you, it may. But, according to me, there is nothing of that sort on the cards.

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'Union government is to be blamed for this mess'

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What would happen if Telangana is declared?

Today there is a bad situation in Telangana. It will only become worse if Telangana is declared. We will fight tooth and nail to keep Andhra Pradesh united.

Why do you think this agitation went out of control?

The Telangana agitation has been going on for some time now. In fact, I blame the Union government for this mess. On December 9, 2010, they made an unwanted announcement and this only churned up the emotions of the people. They could have held on to that statement and thought of a better solution instead.

What is your reading of what is happening in Delhi?

According to me, I am more than sure that Telangana will not be declared. The government has to think of the rest of the state as well. It cannot take a decision based on the sentiments of a particular region alone, especially when the state has remained united for so many decades.

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'What about the fate of those who have been in Hyderabad for years together?'

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There is talk that if Hyderabad is shared the entire problem will be resolved. Is it the greed of the realtors, which is holding up this process?

This is more than just that. Hyderabad is one of the issues. But there are various other issues. The people of Andhra do not want the state to be divided at any cost. There is also a water-sharing issue, which will come under the scanner if the state is divided.

The people of Telangana appear to be very united and it does not seem that they are ready to stop their agitation.

Yes, they are holding on and I can see it. I blame the government for the manner in which they handled the situation. I feel that they have been too linient with these protests. Had they handled it better they would not have had to face this problem.

You should remember that when speaking of Hyderabad, the only issue is not real estate. That must be the interest of a handful of people. There are millions of people in Hyderabad from all parts of the state and not all of them have a real estate interest. What about the fate of those who have been in Hyderabad for years together? They cannot be displaced just like that.

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'They are not going to get Telangana by going on a strike'

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More than handling don't you think the lack of a decision is what is causing this problem?

I would like to pose this question to the people of Telangana. Don't they realise that this issue is not in the hands of the state government. Why are these people protesting on the roads of Hyderabad and the rest of the Telangana region? It makes no sense, as the decision lies in New Delhi. In fact, these protestors are causing a problem for their own people. They will gain nothing by protesting this way. They are not going to get Telangana by going on a strike.

What do you think is the solution then?

It is a very simple solution. Keep Andhra Pradesh united. If the people of Telangana are unhappy then they must be educated by the government. They need to be told that staying in Andhra Pradesh would only benefit them. Most of them are misguided; the government needs to clear out this confusion.

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'MLAs are under the misconception that Telangana will be formed if they resign'

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Your own MLAs from Telangana have resigned. If you could not convince your own flock how do you propose to convince the rest of the state?

It is not as though we have not tried speaking with them. It is their misconception that Telangana will be formed if they resign. They will realise this sooner or later. They should realise that such pressure will not get them anywhere.

The people of Telangana say that the Andhrites are capitalists and have eaten into their legitimate share of income, jobs etc.

That is not what the statistics say. The per capita income of a person from Telangana is much more when compared to the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

Go to the rural areas and you will see for yourself that the people in Telangana are in a better position when compared to the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

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Image: File photo of TDP MLAs courting arrest

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'KCR looks like a man who wants to widen his political base'

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Do you say that there will be violence in case Telangana is formed?

I would not say violence, but we will fight until the existing position is restored. There will be mass agitations and this would worsen the situation. However, all this will not arise since the state will not be divided.

What is your opinion on KCR?

I feel he is serious about the issue, but not about Telangana. He looks like a man who wants to widen his political base. Basically, even he knows that he will have no issue left once Telangana is formed, if you understand what I mean

The epicentre has been Singareni. It has affected all the neighbouring states. Your thoughts on this.

Once again, I blame the government. Do you think this is the first time that the employees at Singareni are on strike? No, they have gone on a strike for 30 days in a row for their own demands in the past. There was never such a problem like how there is today. At that time, the government had anticipated the strike and stocked up enough coal to tide through the crisis. This time too they had anticipated the same, but decided to sleep over the matter.


Image: Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekara Rao

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