Congratulations to Telangana on its Decennial Formation Day celebrations
In the process of leading the agitation from the infantry, former Transport Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had transformed into KCR, the torchbearer for a separate Telangana agitation
HYDERABAD: This is about me and Telangana. I was born in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, while my ‘native’ is Vizianagaram - the place of my father. And, lived my initial years in Rayagada, Orissa. Just when the mind is evolving, it was a paradigm shift for me as my father resigned his job in Rayagada and moved to AP Residential School as a teacher in Kinnerasani Dam Site, Khammam district - a job he had tried hard for by investing his talent and skill as the selection of teachers was purely by merit and no other consideration. This was in 1976, hardly a year after the school was established. And, barely seven years after the Telangana agitation, soaked in blood, was thwarted and the embers of a separate Telangana aspiration were still simmering.
When he had clinched the job, a neighbour had raised a question doubtfully. He asked: “Sir, what if Telangana is separated, as the agitation hasn’t fully died down?” Pat came the reply in unison from my mother and father: “Let it be. After all, it’s a fulfilment of an emotional aspiration. We are very much fine with it. We would become an integral part of that State. Naturally, so. Big deal?
We have come to Orissa and have been living here and it didn’t matter. As children we were part of British India; and as students, we were part of combined Madras State, then Andhra State and then Andhra Pradesh; and now we are in Orissa. Tomorrow, if the popular aspiration is realised, we will be part of Telangana.”
This was cryptically said by them, but I elaborated it for the convenience of readers.
In fact, I didn’t understand what it was back then. My curious questions to my parents could evoke only the above content in a simplified form as I was barely seven.
And, we moved on and became very much an integral part of Telangana.
Formative years left strong and indelible, positive and effervescent impressions about the beautiful place and affectionate people I grew amidst. Carrying those memories, I moved on and it’s then when I had fully realised what my parents had told that doubting Thomas as to what if Telangana is separated.
Telangana agitation 2.0 started with sacrifice
When a frail man from Medak district stoked rebellion and blew the conch of agitation, the voice was only amplifying from feeble to forceful. This gentleman agitator K Chandrashekar Rao indeed struck an emotional chord with people. How? To gain some, you have to lose some.
To inspire the spirit of sacrifice among people and to garner the support of masses, he gave up three things — a cushy office of the Deputy Speaker of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, position of MLA from Siddipet, and of course his primary membership of the Telugu Desam Party with which he had sailed for close to two decades. He sought a reelection form Siddipet and became the harbinger of the democratic process of formation of Telangana.
The movement only grew from strength to strength with his political dexterity and manoeuvring skills from time to time. In the process of leading the agitation from the infantry, former Transport Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had transformed into KCR, the torchbearer for a separate Telangana agitation.
His political overtures amused some, and amazed some, but surely amassed support. His alignment with the Congress, his joining hands with the set of staunch protagonists of Undivided Andhra Pradesh — the TDP and the Communists — and ability to lay low when his chips were down, alacrity to reboot to a higher configuration and astuteness to admit mistakes and take to course correction should all be seen as fuels to the fire of aspirations for a separate Telangana State.
The vacuum caused by the death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy was when KCR decided to pull all the stops to accelerate the movement. Within weeks, the movement took the shape of an uprising. Almost all the top echelons of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi unhesitatingly bore the bruises when caned, the brunt of failing healths due to frequent hunger strikes and untimely protest programmes. KCR’s fast-unto-death vow and the eventual indefinite hunger strike, his arrest and the enormity of the popular sentiment in favour a separate Telangana could all together hold the bull of the Congress by its horns. The Union Government had to make a statement. “The process of formation of a separate Telangana has begun,” said an otherwise arrogant P Chidambaram, then Home Minister, in a very subdued tone on December 9, 2009 only to have KCR break his fast and call off the agitation. Chidambaram’s Machiavellian politics were exposed barely after a fortnight, as the Centre tried to cleverly retract from December 9 statement. This angered the denizens of Telangana.
Breaks for the agitation
KCR had just repeated the play book of India’s independence movement. Running an agitation — that too without making it remunerative for its participants some of whom also lost their livelihood — without the necessary break time is well nigh impossible and the history had proven it time and again.
Though the naysayers made derisive remarks saying “now it’s holidays for Telangana agitation…KCR is on a break…agitation dissipated…”
They failed to understand that even an employee is given a weekly off. Agitations cannot be run 24x7 on all days.
In retrospect, it seems a meticulously laid out plan to give breaks to the protesters to rejuvenate their energies to fight with renewed vigour.
Every morning, the protesters used to launch their agitations very early and close it after noon when most of them would have been arrested by the police.
Because of the agitation, daily routine used to screech to a grinding halt affecting the economic activity in the State. This is the effect KCR had wanted and nursed only to highlight the aspirations. Bandh was a way of protest.
Million march, Sakala Janula Samme, cooking on roads and railway tracks, rasta rokos, rail rokos, and many other forms of protest only elongated the tensile strength of the patience of KCR, and the millions of his followers from all walks of life by then. His grit and determination forced Chandrababu Naidu to submit letters to the Centre in favour of a separate Telangana on multiple occasions.
KCR never took chances. As latest as in mid-2013, KCR, at a public meeting in Mahbubnagar district, had appealed to the people that they should be prepared to fight for a separate Telangana even in 2019 elections.
But things moved swiftly. Telangana formation was announced. The process progressed at a frenetic pace. Elections were held for the combined state and political geographies were divided in June 2014 only to create history and herald a new era of economics.
KCR won with a slender margin and became the first Chief Minister of Telangana.
KCR, a voracious reader, had all the resources available to him to do the necessary research. He had tasked the experts of different fields to come up with their reports. He had a detailed project report of a startup Telangana in mind and used its implementation to tune in a perfect political advantage for the TRS. He triumphed with renewed mandate in 2019.
I don’t want to beat the same track of development and welfare schemes that yielded results and the monuments being created by KCR’s regime in the State. For, it’s all for everyone to touch, feel and experience.
My parents were right. We became natural citizens of Telangana seamlessly as Telangana is as cosmopolitan as India is - practicing unity in diversity to the tee.