Andhra Pradesh, as a State, was created only after passing resolutions in the Assemblies of Andhra State and Hyderabad State and cannot, therefore, be said to have been created against the will of the people.
Those who are demanding a separate Telangana State are not doing so for restoration of status quo ante as on 31-10-1956. That would mean recreation of the Princely State of Hyderabad, which existed until 31-10-1956, as that State comprised not only the present Telangana region but also the five (now six) districts of Marathwada, which had gone to Maharashtra, and the three districts that went to Karnataka in 1956 as part of reorganization of States on linguistic basis.
What they are now asking for is a Telangana State that never existed as an exclusive political entity at any time in history. In fact, the creation of Andhra Pradesh was done as part of the States Reorganization Commission on linguistic basis.
The demand for a separate Telangana State first came up in 1969. It was a massive movement. An equally strong movement demanding a separate Andhra State came up in 1972-73. What is interesting is that when there was a movement for a separate Telangana state, Andhras opposed it in 1969. Similarly, when there was a movement for a separate Andhra, Telangana leaders opposed it. So, the demands fell through because of lack of consensus on the issue.
The demand for a separate Telangana State resurfaced in 2001 on the ground that Telangana remained economically backward because of the willful neglect of that area by Andhra rulers. The initial argument was that unless Telangana became a separate State, its development was not possible and it would continue to remain backward. The Srikrishna Committee’s report has conclusively established that there is absolutely no truth in the theory that Telangana was subjected to discrimination.
There are ten reasons for invalidating arguments for a separate Telangana State:
1. Telangana leaders repeatedly say “Our language is different and our slang is different,” defending their argument for the formation of a separate State. There are 28 different dialects pertaining to Telugu, and in Telangana area itself 12 dialects exist. Telugu has gone through a great deal of change (as have all other Indian languages), progressing from medieval to modern.
The language of the Telangana region started to split into distinct dialects due to Muslim influence. But during the last six decades, especially after the formation of Andhra Pradesh on linguistic basis, and thanks to modern education, all the dialects are being replaced by modern and chaste Telugu. All the leaders in Telangana speak chaste Telugu and it is silly to demand a separate State for dying dialects.
2. Telangana leaders say “People’s movement for separate State has been vibrant for 53 years.” Central leaders in Delhi also repeat it without taking bare facts into account. There were only two movements both in 1969 and in 2009 for a separate Telangana.
3. The Telangana State which the separatists are demanding never existed. The princely State of Nizam was made up of 16 districts, grouped into four divisions. After it was merged in Indian Union, Hyderabad State was formed. Later, the Telangana part of this State merged with Andhra Pradesh.
4. Separatists repeatedly pose the question, “When there are six Hindi-speaking States why can’t there be two Telugu- speaking States?” All the Hindi-speaking States never remained as a single administrative unit. Nearly 200 princely States were merged into six Hindi-speaking States and none of the erstwhile princely States is demanding separate statehood. In each Hindi State there are many standard Hindi dialects and no one is demanding statehood for these dialects.
5. Separatists cite the small States theory to defend their argument. If separated, Telangana State will be bigger than Kerala and Orissa. If the separatists really support the formation of smaller States, they should demand that AP should be split into five or six States.
6. Why should anyone object when we intend to rule ourselves? That is the refrain of some separatists. Self-rule slogan was raised repeatedly during foreign rule and against monarchies in defence of establishing a democratic society. In a democratic society, self-rule theory by a section of people does not hold water. Division of a State can be considered on any ground other than self-rule as it may lead to balkanization of India.
7. Separatists speak of self-respect. Self-respect, self-confidence and the like are attributes of individuals and not those of a vast society.
8. Most of the leaders propagating formation of Telangana arrogate to themselves the right to speak on behalf of the entire populace. The will of the people is expressed in its best form during elections. The TRS, which was formed with the sole aim of bifurcation of the State, contested in all elections since 2003 and it was decisively rejected by the people. There is no proof to validate the people’s desire for a separate State.
9. Another argument is that Telangana culture is different from that of the Andhra area. A set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or a social group is generally described as culture of the society. In Andhra Pradesh, people are gradually opting out of unusual and unique primordial rituals which are different from district to district. Unable to understand this process of modernization, separatists often express a mistaken view that local rituals are different from the rituals of other parts and put forth the argument for a separate State.
10. Some separatists say, “We are not psychologically compatible with Andhra people.” Compatibility is important only when there is personal interaction between people. No society as a whole interacts with another society. So the question of incompatibility does not arise.
(The writer is former Member of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly)
Small states need of the hour
In south Bihar, local Congress leaders lent their full support for Jharkhand state with full knowledge that their party had no chance to come to power in Jharkhand based on the number of their MLAs.
The creation of three new States from out of Hindi-speaking states of UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh is significant since the reorganization of States in 1956. These three big states have remained unaffected by the reorganization.
As a result of the reorganization, the map of India was redrawn on 1st November, 2000 when Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh came into being as new States, raising the number of States in India to 28. Noticeably, all the three Bills for forming these states were passed by a voice vote in parliament by consensus among major political parties. Similar was the situation in the State Assemblies of UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh which passed resolutions in favour of creation of these states.
In Andhra Pradesh, the talk of creation of the new states has created ripples in political circles, giving rise to a public debate in both the regions. In this connection, it may be recalled that in south Bihar, local Congress leaders lent their full support for Jharkhand state with full knowledge that their party had no chance to come to power in Jharkhand based on the number of their MLAs. Similarly, Congressmen in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh gave their support for Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh unmindful of their party’s fortunes in the new states. This bipartisan consensus was a unique feature of the reorganization.
It may be argued that for a country of 100 crore people with a chequered history, ethos and uneven levels of development in different regions, there is an imperative need for more States as in America, which has 50 States for a population of only 27 crore. Small and compact states not only help in efficient administration, but also provide access to political power and resources to the people of backward regions, enabling them to undertake accelerated development of their areas without hindrance from outside elements or vested interests.
In the context, we may recall the observations made by Indira Gandhi in 1960 in connection with the demand for bifurcation of Bombay State. She observed: “Nothing is going to happen to India by the bifurcation of Bombay state”. Nehru, the then Prime Minister, had accepted her advice and the bifurcation of Bombay State followed in 1960. Although nothing happened to India as asserted by Indira Gandhi, something really happened to vested interests who had vehemently opposed the bifurcation on flimsy grounds.
The demands raised for separate states, be it in AP (Telangana), Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Karnataka (Kodagu), Madhya Pradesh (Vindyachal), Assam (Bodoland), West Bengal (Gorkhaland) or Uttar Pradesh (Harith Pradesh, Poornachal and Bundelkhand) are quite old -- some of them are as old as 45 years as in the case of Telangana and Vidarbha. It is also true that Vidarbha and Telangana were favoured for statehood in 1956 by the States Reorganization Commission, but they were merged with the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Andhra in November, 1956, much against the wishes of the people. Since then the people in these regions have been demanding statehood. Curiously, the Congress Government at the Centre had accepted other demands and created many other states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. These decisions speak volumes about the inconsistent and incoherent nature of policies pursued by rulers in Delhi.
In 1961, when there was demand in Punjab for ‘Punjabi Subha’, it was unacceptable to the ruling Congress Party. However, in 1965, the Hindi-speaking areas in Punjab were brought under the new State named Haryana. But Chandigarh city was made a common capital for Punjab and Haryana.
This is yet another instance of ‘indecision’ on the part of successive governments at the Centre. However, the experiment made in bifurcating Punjab proved to be successful as both the states have since made rapid progress, setting a trend in the reconstruction of neglected areas. For this reason, these States are popularly known as ‘Mini Japans’ in India. The success story of Haryana in particular should strengthen the plea for small states in other regions also.
When we look at the events of 1960, it would appear that Bombay and Punjab were the only two bilingual states in the country. But the agitation launched by Maha Gujarat Jana Parishad for the formation of Gujarat State resulted in the bifurcation of Bombay State into Gujarat and Maharashtra. Undoubtedly this influenced the demand for Punjabi Subha in Punjab, which was then the only bilingual state in the country. During the same period, the Central Government accepted the demand for Nagaland, which had only 4 lakh population, providing impetus to the Akali demand for Punjabi Subha, leading to bifurcation of Punjab. With the bifurcation of Punjab, the last vestige of bilingual state was consigned to the dustbin of history.
The ruling Congress at the Centre had conceded as many as 11 states between 1960 and 1987. As the principal opposition party, it has lent its support for the creation of three more Hindi-speaking states in 2000, taking the tally to 14 new states. In all these instances, there was undue delay in taking decisions, causing needless tensions, agitations and violent upheavals in the affected regions.
Amidst all this, the record of BJP or the erstwhile Jana Sangh requires scrutiny. In 1968-69, the then Jana Sangh pleaded for 2nd States Reorganization Commission. In 1980, the BJP (offspring of Jana Sangh) opted for smaller states at its foundation meeting in Delhi and thereafter the party made similar promises in all its election manifestoes.
(The writer is former Member of Parliament)