Hyderabad: In October,
everything had come to a standstill in Telangana as the movement
for a separate state for this underdeveloped region of Andhra
Pradesh was at its peak and it looked like the central government
would yield to pressure tactics. A month later, all the guns
appear to have fallen silent.
A few days before the second anniversary of the central
government's announcement Dec 9, 2009, to initiate the process for
carving out a Telangana state, the dream of a separate state still
looks like a distant one. Political parties are fighting for
one-upmanship and appearing more interested in pushing the issue
to the 2014 elections for reaping the benefits.
After government employees and mine and transport workers called
off their 42-day-long strike Oct 24, the movement virtually
disappeared from the streets in the region comprising 10
districts, including Hyderabad, and is now confined to the
legislature and political circles.
With the region's political and non-political groups in total
disarray and frequent strikes alienating people, it is not
surprising that the central government too has developed cold feet
over the issue and is even dropping hints that a separate state
will not be a reality, at least in the near future.
Even the protest in parliament by Congress MPs from Telangana and
two MPs of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has been drowned in
the din over foreign equity in the retail sector.
With the political leadership losing credibility among the
Telangana people for setting frequent deadlines without achieving
anything, a sense of frustration has engulfed youth and students,
which is reflected in their suicides.
The mass strike saw the Telangana movement reach its highest peak
since TRS revived it a decade ago, but going by the present public
mood, it looks unlikely if any political party can give it a new
lease of life in the near future.
Even the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising TRS,
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some other groups, appears to
have given up, as it dropped its grandiose plans to hold a
million-man march on the lines of protests in Egypt.
TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, whose 11-day hunger strike had
forced the central government to make the Dec 9, 2009,
announcement, is also having second thoughts on carrying out his
threat of another "fast-unto-death".
TRS critics blame it for the present situation, saying it is only
interested in furthering its own political agenda.
"It was never a people's movement but a movement led by a
political party which has a shortsighted agenda," P.L. Visweswara
Rao, chairman of the Telangana Intellectual Forum, told IANS.
"A people's movement is one in which all sections of people and
all castes participate. The present movement is being run by some
upper caste people," said Visweswara Rao, a former head of the
journalism department at Osmania University.
As a student of the same university, he had participated in the
1969 movement. "That was a real people's movement," Rao recalled.
Both political and non-political critics of TRS feel the party is
only interested in strengthening itself as proved by five
legislators - three of the Congress and two of the TDP - joining
"TRS has no credibility. It says it is opposed to Polavaram, but
gets a contract for the same," said Visweswara Rao in an obvious
reference to the allegation that a company which invested in a
daily owned by the TRS chief bagged the contract for the
irrigation project in the Andhra region.
Visweswara Rao believes a people's movement has to be transparent.
"People want to know why the indefinite strike was called off and
what deal led to the JAC suddenly withdrawing the strike," he
He, along with veteran freedom fighter Konda Lakshman Bapuji and
other Telangana protagonists, is now trying to build the people's
movement by bringing all the groups together.
He claims it would be an ideological platform with a common agenda
of achieving the Telangana state.
They acknowledge that it would be an arduous task, given the
serious differences among dozens of groups and the fact that all
the three major parties - TRS, the Congress and the Telugu Desam
Party (TDP) - are not willing to share a platform.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)