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Rebuilding Telugus’ future

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Rebuilding Telugus’ future, K Ramachandra Murthy, Telugu future, PK Mohanty. The hero’s welcome accorded to the most visible leader in the movement...

The historic city of Hyderabad was witness on Wednesday to a range of intense emotions. While elaborate preparations to receive the leader of separate Telangana movement who arrived from Delhi after achieving his demand reflected the joyous mood of the people who dreamt of statehood, the bitter note struck by a peeved Chief Minister in his interaction with the students from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions on the same day shows how difficult it is to reconcile to the reality with the elections less than two months away. Between the two extremes, there are lakhs of citizens living in the city who have been trying to get back to normal life overcoming the anguish and anger at being insulted by the political class. Away from the city, the main Opposition leader addressed a big rally in a north coastal town repeating the same old allegations against the Congress party that he has been making all these days. In Delhi, the Seemandhra leaders of the Congress party were told by their party chief to go to the people and explain the inevitability of the decision on bifurcation highlighting the positive features of the Bill that would help develop the residual State of Andhra Pradesh. State Chief Secretary PK Mohanty, who constituted an eight-member apex committee under SP Tucker, Principal Secretary, to implement the decision of Parliament, held discussions with the officials of the Home Ministry in the national Capital on the same issue. These are momentous times never witnessed before.

The hero’s welcome accorded to the most visible leader in the movement for a separate State is in keeping with his style. K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), president of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) believes in big shows. He must have organised a dozen mega public meetings in more than 13 years of his stewardship of a party whose raison d’être has been statehood for Telangana. The party, which is essentially a platform for a movement, was not run on traditional lines of a political party. Right from inception, TRS was administered booster doses with huge gatherings that were periodically organised whenever the journey passed through important phases. In the process, the TRS got other major political parties in the State to commit themselves to the cause of T statehood.

KCR forced the Congress and the TDP to have electoral understanding with his party thus making them partners in the struggle. Two of the strong leaders who ruled the State, N Chandrababu Naidu and YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who are known to be shrewd tacticians were made to fall in line despite of being staunch integrationists, thanks to the opportunistic policies they chose to follow. KCR may not have influenced the outcome of any election, he did made the T cause stronger by every elections. In 2004, the Congress might have won even without any help from TRS; in 2009 TDP could not win even with the help of TRS. But both Congress and TDP were led into a trap from which they could not wriggle out. In 1969 movement for separate T, Chenna Reddy built Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) in a traditional manner and won 10 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in 1971. TRS cannot boast of any such electoral success. KCR could succeed where Chenna Reddy failed mainly due to three factors. One, Chenna Reddy had to contend with a strong Indira Gandhi who was invincible in post-Bangaldesh euphoria. KCR could deal with the coterie around Sonia Gandhi with ease. Their desperate attitude that drove them to wield any stick to beat Naidu with was astutely factored by the T leader in his strategy. The tragic death of YSR was a turning point in the history of AP. Had he survived the helicopter accident, things would have been entirely different. A few months before YSR’s death, his bête noire, Naidu, had committed the same tactical mistake that the Congress had committed five years ago. The vertical split in the Congress and the TDP after the historic statement on December 9, 2009, by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram had virtually divided the people on regional lines. KCR’s gift of the gab and the antics of leaders like Lagadapati Rajagopal had sharpened the edges. As elections were looming, politicians indulged in allegations and counter-allegations in reckless abandon. It ultimately affected the psyche of ordinary people on both sides of the divide. Be it a prick of conscience or electoral math on the part of Sonia Gandhi she had resolved to keep the promise she made to the people of Telangana come what may. This delivered a rude shock to all the leaders who were challenging Sonia to bring a Bill certain in their mind that she would never dare to reopen the issue. This miscalculation had proved to be their undoing.

The undue freedom given to the Congress and the TRS leaders to behave in a way that would reflect the feelings of the people of their regions had proved to be detrimental to parliamentary democracy with both the houses of the highest legislature touching a new low. But all this is now part of history and there is no point in brooding over it. There is no other way. Kiran Kumar Reddy may be harping on the issue expressing his anger and agony. Aam Aadmi, common man, is more reasonable than a politician since there is no need for the former to arouse emotions for eliciting votes. Kiran Reddy was heard asking the students to show him the way forward. When he was giving vent to his hard feelings, his colleagues in the Cabinet and party were standing with folded hands behind Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in charge of AP affairs, who was extolling the people of both the regions to live in peace and happiness and to involve in friendly competition to grow faster. A couple of Kiran Reddy’s ministerial colleagues are about to join the TDP. The sulking Chief Minister comes across as a politician who is disgruntled by the way developments overtook him. He has to learn to be magnanimous and accept the majority decision of Parliament where both the ruling UPA and the Opposition BJP have joined hands in passing the contentious Bill. Being in the state of denial does not help him or his supporters. For a young politician who has a long way to go, the ideal slogan would be: reconciliation and reconstruction. After many of his supporters left him to remain in the parent party, the best course for Kiran Reddy would be waiting for a while. A lot of possibilities are going to come his way with the government that is going to be formed after the elections unlikely to be stable. If one window is closed, many others would open. The successful politicians see an opportunity in adversity. He is advised against the idea of launching a party for which there is no slot in Seemandhra which is raring for a keen tussle between YSRCP and TDP.

The tone and tenor of Naidu and YS Jaganmohan Reddy also have to change for the better. Bifurcation is behind us and the focus shall be on finding a suitable place for Capital city, founding industries, trade and business corridors and world class educational institutions. The blame game should give way to healthy competition in growth.

The best way for politicians and the people is to draw appropriate lessons from experience so that further splits and crises could be averted. The root cause for the bizarre developments is betrayal of faith by the politicians who were supposed to be the guardians. The blatant breach of agreements was solely responsible for the bad blood filled with suspicion and recrimination. An arrangement, a statutory committee to be presided over by Prime Minister, to oversee implementation of future agreements and promises would go a long way in preventing such problems from recurring. It is particularly necessary in the residual State of AP where there are inbuilt fissiparous tendencies. People of all regions should feel happy and proud to be together. It calls for an extraordinary statesmanship to create such a congenial political climate. Political calculations based on caste are dangerous. Only inclusive politics should be encouraged by the people. Let us begin building two States for Telugu-speaking people with all our energies, hard work, enterprise and creativity forgetting the rancor and bitterness that tormented the people for years. Let the people of Seemandhra wish the people of Telangana in their moment of triumph.

Elation or dejection is fleeting. It gives way to serious concern for the people. All have to strive hard when it comes to grappling with basic issues that are bothering all the regions. Even after the bifurcation, the Telugus shall continue to cherish their language, culture and traditions which always promote unity among them. The point to be proven to the world is: even if divided politically and administratively, the Telugus remain united emotionally.

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