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The Rediff Interview/K Chandrasekhar Rao.
Fighting for a separate Telangana
After nearly four decades of struggle for a separate Telangana state, the issue seems to have reached a flash point. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi declared that all its elected representatives -- 16 legislators, six MLCs, four MPs and others in the local bodies -- will resign on March 6 if the process for formation of the state is not initiated in the budget session of the Parliament.
The development enables political parties, leaders, cadres and people of both regions to have clarity on the issue.
The first battle for separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh erupted in 1969 under the leadership of Dr Marri Chenna Reddy. However, he betrayed the people who put their trust in him and actively participated in the movement. The Congress suppressed the movement by terrorising the people and manipulating its leader. The movement disturbed the lives of thousands of people in some way or the other. It was a big blow to the people, who came to the conclusion that politicians will only take them for a ride and benefit from their urge for a separate state.
Despite the country becoming independent in 1947, Telangana continues to be under the rule of outsiders in some form or other. The Nizams were ruling the region at the time of independence. The newly formed Indian government toppled the Nizam's government by force and handed it over to Andhra, another new state carved out of the then Madras state. A few conditions imposed on Andhra Pradesh to treat Telangana well were thrown into the dustbin by the rulers.
The merger of Telangana with Andhra was a historical blunder committed by the then rulers at the national level. The Andhra leaders might have misguided the national leadership that the people of both the regions are one the same wavelength since they speak Telugu.
The people of Telangana first realised the fraud in the 1960s, but the movement was mercilessly trampled upon by the rulers in Andhra with the help of the central government as well as a few selfish politicians from Telangana.
The blow to the movement was so drastic that later generations could not even think of uttering the word Telangana, leave alone demand a separate state. The concept was stigmatised by the media, which is in the hands of Andhra's rulers. The Telanganites were treated as second class citizens.
The discrimination is everywhere. Telanganites are in a minority in government as well as private sector. Telanganites are never considered for any higher positions in government or private corporations
Revival of the movement
The stigma around the concept of a separate Telangana state continued until K Chandrashekhar Rao took up cudgels and relaunched the battle for a separate state in 2001. The force with which the movement re-emerged was seen in the mammoth support the TRS could garner. Sensing the seriousness of the issue, the Congress struck an alliance with TRS in the 2004 elections and captured power both in the state and at the Centre.
Once again, the Congress betrayed the people of Telangana. It is the Congress that had been betraying the people of Telangana from the 1950s, but this time it was more blatant than all earlier betrayals. Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] and even the then chief minister candidate Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy wore pink flags in the election campaign during the 2004 elections, indicating that they were all for statehood to Telangana and will facilitate it if they came to power.
Once they occupied the seats of power, they showed their true colours with the party at the national and state level making all possible efforts to defuse the issue. It's time now for Congress leaders from Telangana to wake up. This is a lifetime opportunity for the politicians to do some 'service' to the people. They will become heroes or else they will be politically crucified for their treachery.
The demand is unanimous
Today's demand for a separate state is coming as a one single voice of all the four crore people of the region. No one person born here is opposed to it. This is a historical necessity. This is not any rebellion. This will in no way affect the integrity of the nation. It will only pacify the feelings of the people and will improve relationship between the people of both states. The fact that hardly any marriages take place between the peoples of Andhra and Telangana is a glaring example of the differences between the regions. Both cultures are different. The socio-economic conditions are different.
KCR is the real hero
When Chandrashekhar Rao launched TRS with the sole agenda of achieving a separate Telangana state, many were not sure about his commitment. Prior to the TRS, a few outfits had tried to launch political parties with the same aim but had vanished. Except for one outfit launched by a former minister and Telugu Desam Party leader P Indra Reddy, who died an untimely death in an accident, no other movement was taken seriously by the people of Telangana.
Now the situation has changed so drastically that even those opposed to a separate Telangana state cannot dare open their mouths publicly, whereas in the pre-TRS times, strong supporters could not air their thoughts. The seasoned politician in KCR brought the issue a legitimacy and dignity by adopting a series of inimitable political tactics.
The March 6 deadline is creating ripples throughout the country. If the TRS fails to achieve any result and compromises to set another deadline, it is going to be the death knell for the movement. As of now the deadline seems to have sounded a death knell to Congress leaders from Telangana.
A set of people with a set of cultural ethos are entitled to have their own government. Any violation of this natural law amounts to an intrusion of sovereignty.
Though the language spoken by both Andhras and Telanganites is called Telugu and is mostly similar, the two languages are different. The way it is spoken is different. In fact, most of the language is not understood by each other, unless you are used to it.
There are glaring cultural differences between the people of Andhra and Telangana. Smaller states are better for people as well as for governments in terms of accessibility and distribution of resources.
Three states � Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand � were created recently on the basis of the above facts and they are doing very well.
The demand for Telangana state is the oldest of such demands throughout the country. Similar demands exist for Vidarbha, Bundelkhand and Gorkhaland.
Srinivas Roopi is a professional journalist with 17 years' experience
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