In 1947, immediately after independence, a process of political integration of India started. The iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took charge to forge a united India from the 565 princely states and British-era colonial provinces. Most of the princely states agreed to join the state of independent India, except Kashmir, Junagadh, and Hyderabad. Telangana was a part of the Hyderabad state.
The Nizam of Hyderabad wanted his State to remain independent. India feared this, and the formation of another Pakistan within India. Hindus rebelled throughout the state against the Nizam's rule and his army. The Nizam's army, in opposition, massacred many rebels and innocent people. Numerous mass assassinations, similar to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place throughout the state, until the bloodshed was finally stopped by the Indian Army. The state of Hyderabad was won, and the Nizam was overthrown.
In 1953, the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) was appointed to create new states in India based on language. It was proposed that the Hyderabad state be split into three regions. Apart from regions being given to the states of Bombay state (Maharashtra) and Mysore (Karnataka), a major region (Telangana) along with the capital city of Hyderabad, merged with the Andhra state.
The SRC objected to Telangana being assimilated into the state of Andhra, despite of their common language. The then Chief Minister of Hyderabad State, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, claimed that majority of people were against the merger. But Congress had its own plans. In 1956, the proposed split was executed. A matrimonial alliance with great potential for divorce was formed.
Citizens of Telangana never seemed happy with the new ‘state’ (pun intended!) of affairs. Cries for separation ensued. The first battle for separation erupted in 1969 under the leadership of Marri Chenna Reddy. This rebellion was suppressed by Congress. Since then, this part of India has always been in a state of unrest.
In the 1990s, BJP promised a separate Telangana state, if they came to power. Well, BJP did come into power but never stood up to their promise. Meanwhile, a new party called Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), led by Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), was formed in 2001. Their single-point agenda was to create a separate Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital.
After numerous other demands for Telangana, before 2004 elections, Congress befriended TRS and promised Telangana to them. After winning the elections, Congress rescinded their offer. In 2006, TRS withdrew their support from the Congress but it didn’t make any difference, due to the huge majority held by Congress. The same story was repeated in the 2009 general elections.
By the end of 2009, disappointed by Congress, KCR went on hunger strike. Congress initially accepted TRS’s demands but then denied them again (for the 5th time!), this time due to issues with their own Members of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh. So, Telengana is an issue that has been brewing for a long time, but highlighted and exploited by numerous political parties for petty political motives.
About a year ago, the government announced the five-member Srikrishna committee that would explore the issue of forming a separate state of Telangana. The committee recommended that the State remains unified, and further advised numerous constitutional and economic reforms in the region.
Politics apart, what about the people of the region? Well, as a matter of fact, of the 34 districts in India which face acute farm distress, nine are in Telangana. The budget allocations to Telangana are generally less than 1/3 of the total Andhra Pradesh budget. In most years, funds allocated to Telangana are never spent. Telangana separatist leaders claim that only 20% of the total Government employees, 10% of employees in the secretariat, and 5% of department heads in the Andhra Pradesh government are from Telangana. Even the Srikrishna committee could not deny these allegations due to lack of data. If even half of the allegations are true, the situation is really disheartening.
Under these circumstances, should a separate state of Telangana be formed? If you take Jharkhand’s example, it’s a straight ‘no’. If you take Uttarakhand’s example, it’s a ‘yes’. Does the creation of a separate state help? It definitely does under the right governance. Will the Congress Members of Parliament from Andhra revolt? Laalu claimed that he will allow Bihar’s division only over his dead body. Well, Bihar is divided and Laalu is still alive and kicking. And he still supports Congress! Nothing will change. Life for a politician, goes on. Only the common man suffers.
I personally don’t believe in the idea of division. But, democracy is all about majority and public opinion. People of the area clearly seem to want a separate state of Telangana. While the country at large seems to deny their demands. What's your opinion? Should a separate state of Telengana be formed? Do post your comments below.