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Fighting for a separate Telangana

Ganesh Nadar in Warangal | April 18, 2004 20:34 IST

The midday heat in Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region is searing. One feels like an egg in a frying pan.

But that does not deter around 30,000 people of Torur in Warangal district, who have come to listen to their messiah, K Chandrasekhar Rao, founder of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Rao was a minister in the Telugu Desam Party government when he quit and started his own outfit.

Within three years of its formation, the TRS has grown by leaps and bounds, and the reason is simple: it calls for the formation of a separate Telangana state.

Indian states were formed on a linguistic basis, but that is not a problem here, as Telugu is spoken in both Telangana and the rest of Andhra.

But the histories are different. The whole of Telangana fell under the state of Hyderabad, which was ruled by the Nizam. The rest of Andhra was ruled by the British and was under the Madras Presidency.

Though the demand for a separate Telangana is pretty old, it picked up momentum after the creation of three new states in the north.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, has exploited this demand very well. For this election he has aligned with the Congress and his party is contesting 42 assembly and 6 Lok Sabha seats -- all in Telangana.

The people attending the rally, among them many tribals, are poor and illiterate. They have come in trucks, tractors and bullock carts.

KCR starts his speech with his customary 'Jai Telangana', and goes on to state the ways in which the government is exploiting people of this region.

There is more unemployment here, he says, adding that though the Krishna and the Godavari rivers enter the state through Telangana, more water is given to the Andhra region.

Though coal is mined here, power is generated and utilised by the Andhra region, he says, adding that the TDP-Bharatiya Janata Party combine must not get a single Lok Sabha or assembly seat from here.

He tells the people that they must puncture both tires of the TDP -- the party's symbol is the cycle.

KCR is in a hurry. After finishing his speech he almost runs to his waiting car.

Even after the speech is over it feels like a mela. The crowd is still hanging around, as there is no work in the fields. The people are enjoying the limejuice, samosas and bhajias being sold at the venue.

Rajalakshmi, a businesswoman and district secretary of the TRS in Mehboobnagar, is also there.

She was with the Communist Party of India-Marxist, but joined the TRS when it was founded.

She admits that the problems of the people will not be solved with the creation of a Telangana state, but says, "At least the prejudice will go."

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