Telangana dream finally comes true

The decision to carve out a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh has fulfilled a five-decade-old dream of the people of the region, made up of 10 districts including Hyderabad.

The historic move has bifurcated Andhra Pradesh, which was formed Nov 1, 1956 by merging Telangana (which then existed as Hyderabad State) with Andhra State, which was carved of Madras State three years ago.

This alliance was never a smooth affair. The apprehensions expressed by the first state re-organisation commission came true with the people of Telangana alleging injustice by the rulers from Andhra.

Justice S. Fazal Ali, who was heading the panel, had termed the merger a marriage between an innocent girl called Telangana and a naughty boy called Andhra.

He was referring to the backwardness of Telangana and the prosperity in Andhra, thanks to fertile land and the entrepreneurship of its people. He also pointed out the cultural differences between the two regions.

Ignoring his reservations, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru commented that the innocent girl can continue the marriage or get separated.

The cracks in the marriage began to appear in soon when Telangana leaders accused their counterparts from Andhra of going back on all assurances given to Telangana under a Gentleman's agreement signed at the time of the merger. Under the pact, some safeguards were provided to Telangana to ensure its development and to address its concerns.

The people of Telangana felt cheated as all the assurances given to them were violated. They felt that the people of Andhra were not only grabbing the jobs but diverting Telangana resources, especially water, to Andhra.

The Telangana groups accused Andhra leaders and businessmen of occupying prime lands in and around Hyderabad. The allegations were denied.

A massive agitation for separate statehood for Telangana began in 1969. More than 300 people, mostly students, were killed in police firing.

The six-point formula of 1973 which guaranteed preference to local candidates in jobs besides accelerated development was never implemented sincerely, argue Telangana parties.

They kept raising the demand for a separate state from time to time. It was in 2001 that K. Chandrasekhara Rao revived the movement by floating the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

Though TRS emerged as a key political force in 2004 by winning five Lok Sabha and 26 assembly seats and it made the UPA include Telangana in the common minimum programme, the UPA government did not take the initiative.

TRS fought the 2009 election in alliance with Telugu Desam Party but won only two Lok Sabha and 10 assembly seats. Congress retained power.

Just when it looked like the movement was dying, the death of then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash gave a new life to TRS.

KCR, as TRS chief is popularly known, launched an indefinite fast. With students and others taking to the streets, the government had to bow before the popular demand.

With KCR's health deteriorating, the central government on Dec 9, 2009 announced that the process for formation of Telangana state would be initiated.

But protests in Rayalaseema and Andhra regions and the mass resignations of MPs and legislators there forced New Delhi to put the process on hold. It cited the need for evolving a consensus.

The central government set up the Srikrishna committee, which submitted a report in December 2010 suggesting six options.

With all major political parties divided along regional lines, a consensus could not be evolved.

The delay not only created frequent law and order problems but also impacted investment in Hyderabad. Telangana groups claim that 900 people, mostly youths, committed suicide since 2009.

Political observers say the fear of losing ground in Telangana before the 2014 election forced the Congress to act decisively.

It has acted cautiously to avoid the mistakes committed earlier when the announcement was made in a hurry.

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