History as political weapon
History as political weapon, September 17 has now become a bone of contention between the BJP and the TRS government. The BJP is politicising this...
September 17 has now become a bone of contention between the BJP and the TRS government. The BJP is politicising this historic day to settle scores with the TRS. The TRS is also equally wrong. Its ambivalence on correct characterisation of this day and its vacillation on officially celebrating it only indicate its political pusillanimity. Thus political parties are indulging in dirty tactics of interpreting history to their current political advantage.
It is a fact of history that Telangana which was in the form of princely state of Hyderabad was integrated with the Indian Union on September 17, 1948. Thus, it certainly becomes a unique day in the annals of Telangana history. The people of Telangana had no right to hoist national flag on August 15th 1947 when the nation could do so. Thus, the day of integration is a day of celebration as people of Telangana became politically a part of India. However, this integration did not happen in a normal course of events. A heroic struggle of peasantry and ordinary people created the objective conditions for integration. Any attempt to give the entire credit for integration to the police action ordered by the then Home Minister Sardar Patel is nothing but undermining the sacrifices of hundreds of martyrs. The BJP by ignoring this fact is rendering gross injustice to the people of Telangana. In a brazen political bid to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel, the BJP-style characterisation of September 17 is underplaying the unparallel valour and supreme sacrifices of Telangana masses. The Telangana people’s armed struggle has a glorious place in the history of people’s movements. The BJP cannot digest this fact. It wants the people of Telangana to believe that they became part of India due to the police action by the Union Army. The villages of Telangana that cherish the proud memories of the armed struggle cannot accept this distorted view of their history.
The Telangana Peasant arms struggle had twin objectives. It wanted to liberate people of Telangana from the oppressive feudal exploitation and autocratic Nizam rule, both of which were surviving on each other’s support. September 17 is significant as one of these two objectives was accomplished on this day. The tyranny of Nizam rule ended with Hyderabad becoming part of Indian union. Thus the day of integration also became the partial liberation day. This day should also be observed as a day of re-dedication to the struggle to herald a new social order in Telangana. Any attempt to ignore this fact by undermining the significance of September 17 would only amount to disowning the then struggles that brought liberation to Telangana from the despotic monarchy.
The BJP is trying to saffronise this dimension of history. Its cynical efforts to portray it as Hindu-Muslim divide is certainly doing injustice to the history of Telangana. Many Muslims became martyrs in the struggle against Nizam rule. The Hindu feudal lords firmly supported Nizam and perpetuated heinous crimes even on Hindu masses.
On the other hand, the ambivalence of TRS also lacks any sense of history. The TRS is apprehensive of losing Muslim votes if it celebrates the day that liberated Telangana people from the yoke of Nizam rule. Ordinary Muslim masses have nothing to do with Nizam. The MIM is also indulging in sinister politics by glorifying Nizam. The TRS in its new-found love for MIM is hesitating to take a correct stand in this regard. Any fundamentalist view of history has to be deplored.
The Nizam of Hyderabad refused to accede to the Indian union when the nation became independent. Why did the then Union government allow Nizam to remain in power for 13 months later? The Nizam was accorded the status of Rajpramukh. Why was this honour bestowed on a king who refused to accede to the Indian Union? This status was continued for long time. Democratic elections were not held for several years after the police action. All this reveal that the Indian Union had intervened only when the Nizam’s position turned precarious as the Communist-led Telangana armed struggle got intensified. Why did the Indian union not withdraw its army immediately after the police action? All this indicate a tacit compromise with the feudal lords who overnight turned into Congress leaders. Nizam surrendered only when he realised that he will be overthrown by the armed struggle.
The TRS repeatedly and of course rightly glorified the sacrifices of Telangana armed struggle martyrs like Chakali Ailamma, and Doddi Komaraiah. But K Chandrasekhar Rao quite often praised Nizam, against whom these martyrs led the struggle. It is true that the Nizam developed educational institutions, irrigation facilities, but this cannot be the basis for praising monarchy. In fact, the British introduced railways. Can we welcome the colonial rulers due to this?
There is yet another argument that the day should be observed as the day of betrayal. This argument is based on the notion that Hyderabad would have remained an independent country if the Indian Union had not intervened. This extreme view is fraught with danger. The political parties shall come out of their political myopia. September 17 is certainly a historic day. It is a day of integration of Telangana with the Indian Union. It’s a day of liberation from oppressive monarchy. It’s a day of rededication to the struggle for an egalitarian social order in Telangana. It is also a day on which we salute the martyrs for their supreme sacrifices. It is a day on which we proudly recollect how Telangana masses have demonstrated their unparallel heroism.