Telangana sentiment surges again, thanks to Sonia Gandhi
Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi has left Hyderabad, after setting the stage for AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to enter Telangana. Both the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), whose friendship defies all logic in the world, are primarily concentrating to consolidate the Seema-Andhra voters while the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is trying to wean them away from their influence.
The Congress matriarch had raised the issue of Special Category Status in Hyderabad meeting. As she reiterated the Congress’ commitment to delivering it, the audience and those who were watching her live on TV were surprised as to whether she was reading a script made for AP.
But Sonia Gandhi was, in fact, keeping in mind, the Seema-Andhra voters in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Nizamabad, and Khammam. She was sending a signal that her party was committed to developing Andhra Pradesh which would warm the cockles of their hearts. In about 25 segments in and around Hyderabad, Seema-Andhras are in such numbers they can make or mar a candidate’s election.
Already the Seema-Andhras are seething with rage against the BJP for going back on its promises of delivering Special Category Status to AP and implementing all the assurances made in the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014. This is because of the continuous pummelling by Chandrababu Naidu that the BJP had betrayed the trust of the people and left them on streets to fend for themselves. Naidu did his job well by igniting passions among the people of AP against the saffron party.
The hatred that Naidu had built among people in AP is now being put to use in Hyderabad too by the Congress. The people in AP have reconciled to the division of the State and want to build a new State on the ruins. They no longer have any grudge against the TRS for bringing pressure on the Centre to divide the State as it is becoming a distant blur.
They want to put it behind them and move on. The Seema-Andhras in Hyderabad have concern for their State and when Sonia Gandhi reiterated that she would deliver Special Category Status to AP, it appeared to have synched with them.
Sonia Gandhi addressed the public meeting at Medchal on Hyderabad’s outskirts which means that she was very much interested in reaching out to the Seema-Andhras. The TRS believes that they are on its side since they often refer to how the TRS had won all but one municipal divisions in Seema-Andhra areas in elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) immediately after the 2014 elections in which the TDP won only one division.
But the TDP leaders argue that even at the height of Telangana movement, the TDP, and its allies together won 20 seats in the Assembly elections, including TDP’s 15 and that the party was alive but was dormant and when favourable situation prevails, green shoots would emerge. The results of the GHMC elections showed that people had thought a party native to Telangana would be in a better position to address their civic needs.
If the Congress is trying to consolidate Seema-Andhra voters with the help of the TDP, the TRS is trying to worm its way into their hearts stating that in its four-and-a-half years of rule since 2014, no inconvenience had been caused to the them and that peace reigned in the city which was a rarity in the past. “All those who live in Hyderabad are its citizens. This is Hamara Hyderabad. We will protect them and their interests round the clock,” K T Rama Rao said at a meeting of Seema-Andhras in Kukatpalli on Saturday.
But Rama Rao continued his diatribe against Naidu, having probably decided that not all Andhras in Hyderabad were TDP sympathisers. Not hurting even this segment, he had stated that if the TRS targets Naidu, it was because he was its political rival and that it has nothing to do with Seema-Andhras who are in Hyderabad.
When Rama Rao referred to late YSR’s contribution to Hyderabad, there was applause which indicated that they included supporters of YSRCP too. In equal measure, here might be supporters of Pawan Kalyan too and the TRS has no problem in reaching out to these two segments but when it comes to the community which identifies itself with the TDP, it has to do a balancing act, which Rama Rao has been doing anyway.
Sonia Gandhi, after reiterating Congress’ resolve to declare Special Category Status for AP, which is a sentimental issue, the decks are now being cleared for joint meetings of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu probably did not want to be seen sharing dais with Sonia Gandhi at Medchal because the meeting was intended to project her as the mother of Telangana, which might act as a barb to Andhras and if Naidu is found next to her, it might hurt the interests of the Congress-TDP alliance, which has now come to be known as People’s Front.
It was at this meeting that she was projected as one who had presented Telangana as a baby to the people and that she was now feeling very hurt to watch it lie in tatters. She reached out to the people of Telangana on the promises not kept by the K Chandrashekar Rao administration and spoke about how her heart had bled seeing the deplorable state the youngest State was in. Since all these words are intended to ignite Telangana passions once again, Naidu was probably not around as Chandrashekar Rao had successfully painted Naidu as Telangana betrayer in his run up to the elections in 2014.
Even now, Chandrashekar Rao is coming down heavily on Naidu and the Congress leaders. He is making an appeal to the people to realise that Naidu was using the Congress leaders to further his secret agenda in Telangana which he says is nothing but plundering it once again. He frequently recalls show the late Chief Minister of undivided AP N Kiran Kumar Reddy had said in the Assembly that he would not allot even one rupee for Telangana and challenged the TRS to do whatever it could, to drive home the point that the Congress leaders too were not overly interested in the welfare of the people of Telangana.
When Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the Assembly, the pink panthers did not want to use Telangana sentiment as a weapon since they thought it was behind them. They were mainly banking on welfare and development schemes, the list of which is quite long anyway. But when Naidu joined hands with the Congress, a development which Chandrashekar Rao did not foresee, he decided to rekindle the Telangana sentiment as there was no other alternative.
Till such time Naidu entered the scene, the Congress appeared to be an underdog. But after Naidu made the appearance along with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi for his efforts to ‘mobilise’ anti-BJP forces, the TRS had changed its strategy, as it knows very well that more than anything else, it is the politics of hatred that ensures a quick and rich harvest of electoral rewards. Using Naidu as a weapon against the Congress, Chandrashekar Rao is trying to discredit the alliance between the two, describing it as the one of the most shameless forms of political opportunism.
Now, it is a repeat of 2014 elections, though with a little difference. Chandrashekar Rao is on one side, and on the other, the Congress, TDP and Kodandaram who played a crucial role in Telangana movement and who fell away from Chandrashekar Rao, as Rao kept suspecting his loyalty to him vis- a- vis Congress. The issue now on which the Telangana battle is being fought is once again Telangana sentiment and not Rythu Bandhu or Kaleswaram.