Telangana remains a distant dream (Andhra Newsletter)

December 3rd, 2011 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Telangana Hyderabad, Dec 3 (IANS) In October, everything had come to a standstill in Telangana as the movement for a separate state for this underdeveloped region of Andhra Pradesh was at its peak and it looked like the central government would yield to pressure tactics. A month later, all the guns appear to have fallen silent.

A few days before the second anniversary of the central government’s announcement Dec 9, 2009, to initiate the process for carving out a Telangana state, the dream of a separate state still looks like a distant one. Political parties are fighting for one-upmanship and appearing more interested in pushing the issue to the 2014 elections for reaping the benefits.

After government employees and mine and transport workers called off their 42-day-long strike Oct 24, the movement virtually disappeared from the streets in the region comprising 10 districts, including Hyderabad, and is now confined to the legislature and political circles.

With the region’s political and non-political groups in total disarray and frequent strikes alienating people, it is not surprising that the central government too has developed cold feet over the issue and is even dropping hints that a separate state will not be a reality, at least in the near future.

Even the protest in parliament by Congress MPs from Telangana and two MPs of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has been drowned in the din over foreign equity in the retail sector.

With the political leadership losing credibility among the Telangana people for setting frequent deadlines without achieving anything, a sense of frustration has engulfed youth and students, which is reflected in their suicides.

The mass strike saw the Telangana movement reach its highest peak since TRS revived it a decade ago, but going by the present public mood, it looks unlikely if any political party can give it a new lease of life in the near future.

Even the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising TRS, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some other groups, appears to have given up, as it dropped its grandiose plans to hold a million-man march on the lines of protests in Egypt.

TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, whose 11-day hunger strike had forced the central government to make the Dec 9, 2009, announcement, is also having second thoughts on carrying out his threat of another “fast-unto-death”.

TRS critics blame it for the present situation, saying it is only interested in furthering its own political agenda.

“It was never a people’s movement but a movement led by a political party which has a shortsighted agenda,” P.L. Visweswara Rao, chairman of the Telangana Intellectual Forum, told IANS.

“A people’s movement is one in which all sections of people and all castes participate. The present movement is being run by some upper caste people,” said Visweswara Rao, a former head of the journalism department at Osmania University.

As a student of the same university, he had participated in the 1969 movement. “That was a real people’s movement,” Rao recalled.

Both political and non-political critics of TRS feel the party is only interested in strengthening itself as proved by five legislators - three of the Congress and two of the TDP - joining its ranks.

“TRS has no credibility. It says it is opposed to Polavaram, but gets a contract for the same,” said Visweswara Rao in an obvious reference to the allegation that a company which invested in a daily owned by the TRS chief bagged the contract for the irrigation project in the Andhra region.

Visweswara Rao believes a people’s movement has to be transparent. “People want to know why the indefinite strike was called off and what deal led to the JAC suddenly withdrawing the strike,” he said.

He, along with veteran freedom fighter Konda Lakshman Bapuji and other Telangana protagonists, is now trying to build the people’s movement by bringing all the groups together.

He claims it would be an ideological platform with a common agenda of achieving the Telangana state.

They acknowledge that it would be an arduous task, given the serious differences among dozens of groups and the fact that all the three major parties - TRS, the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) - are not willing to share a platform.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)

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