Spiralling crisis


The situation in Andhra Pradesh has assumed worrying proportions with the agitation for a separate Telangana state turning extremely violent. Protesting activists have been on a rampage in the Telangana region, forcing authorities to impose prohibitory orders and shut down universities to quell the violence.

 Activists are burning buses, looting shops and malls and damaging property. Adding fuel to the fire is Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader K Chandrashekar Rao’s fast-unto-death, which is into its 12th day now. Emotions are running high in the state and Rao’s deteriorating health could trigger an explosive situation. It is unfortunate that the TRS has chosen to turn to violence and intimidation to press its demands for a Telangana state. There are political and constitutional ways to push these demands. The TRS has sought to justify its resort to violence on the grounds that its political efforts failed to bear fruit and that political allies and successive governments have gone back on promises to create a Telangana state. Indeed, parties across the board have made promises during elections to carve out a Telangana state with a view to getting TRS as an electoral ally and/or winning votes in the Telangana region, and have then gone on to forgetting these promises. Yet this does not justify the TRS’ violent strategy.

The TRS has sought to project its leader’s fast-unto-death as a non-violent, Gandhian tactic. But there is little non-violence about the way the TRS leader is going about his fast. There is a clear intimidatory element to his fast. For him and his party, fasting is a tool to threaten and issue ultimatums. His politics of blackmail is violent politics. He would do well to bear in mind that Mahatma Gandhi did not look the other way while his supporters unleashed violence. Rather he firmly opposed violence in all its forms.

There is an urgent need for tension to be defused. The TRS leader must call off his hunger strike and urge his party members to halt their violence. As for the government, it needs to debate and discuss seriously the issue of statehood for Telangana. Succumbing to the TRS’ intimidatory politics and violence will set off a dangerous trend as it will encourage similar demands in other regions. It is therefore important that the government makes its decision based on clearly thought out principles and not be guided by the politics of expediency.

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