Dr. Mallu Ravi
Former MP and APCC spokesperson
The Telangana agitation is on for over six decades. Leaders of three generations could not take any initiative on the issue. The movement has seen many ups and downs and hundreds of people had laid down their lives for the cause. From Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Sonia Gandhi separate Telangana has been a contentious, complex and sensitive issue to deal with.
After meticulously gathering opinions, discussing with stakeholders and respecting the feelings of Telangana people, the decision taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi is matchless.
However, the political parties that have been demanding to take steps for the formation of a separate state are now criticizing the decision which is not fair.
Why are they blaming Sonia Gandhi and where did she err? Many leaders tried to solve the Telangan imbroglio but they could only succeed in deferring the issue constantly.
Sonia Gandhi has changed the trend and has taken a decision. She broke the stalemate and arrived at a solution in favour of Telangana people.
Before criticizing Sonia Gandhi, one should have an in-depth knowledge of the Telangana movement, its origins and the method adopted by three generations of Congress leaders vis-à-vis the approach of Sonia Gandhi.
Telangana agitation has a strong backdrop of a people’s movement with cities coming to a grinding halt due to numerous sacrifices, agitations, Sakala Januala Samme and the like.
When Andhra Pradesh was formed on linguistic basis, Telangana leaders had many apprehensions and dissatisfaction on the process. To allay fears among both camps, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has brought in Gentlemen’s Agreement as a shield. Andhra Pradesh was formed on November 1, 1956 with the merger of Andhra and Hyderabad states.
Though the arrangement continued for 12 years, dissent has come to the fore as there was discrimination in jobs and other issues and separate Telangana movement began in Khammam in 1969.
The movement which was started by students went into the hands of politicians and Telangana started burning. Hundreds of students gave their lives up for the agitation while some were killed in police firing.
At this juncture, Indira Gandhi tried to suppress the agitation. In her inimitable style, she pacified Marri Channa Reddy, who was leading the movement under his TPS banner and merged it with Congress.
A six-point formula was set up to safeguard the interests of Telangana people and it was given legal sanctity. During the term of Rajiv Gandhi, the issue of Telangana was not raised at all. No one had raised the separate Telangana voice that could be noticed. Hence, Rajiv Gandhi completed his term without any need to address the Telangana issue.
While the first phase of Telangana agitation was carried out with a high and furious pitch, the second phase was no less and it reached a crescendo which yielded the separate state decision.
Sonia Gandhi has taken a historic decision, after realizing that the Telangana issue was not addressed to properly for years together. She wanted to put an end to the pending issue. She only thought of ending the decades-long stalemate but had no other intentions, for sure.
The decision was taken only after taking the opinion of all those concerned. There were hectic meetings, numerous consultations, setting up of committees. She has done a mammoth exercise on the issue. Earlier, in 2004 assembly elections TRS led by K Chandrasekhar Rao had a tie-up with Congress with the assurance that Telangana will be made a separate state.
Congress has come to power in state and in Centre. It was time to keep up the promises and the developments in the State had also added pep to the decision.
After the death of YSR, the indefinite fast of KCR has taken the Telangana movement to new heights. Solidarity has poured in from various quarters to KCR and Telangana was on the boil. These were the circumstances under which the announcement of Telangana state has come.
In order to take the opinion of other parties, a Committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee, later Sri Krishna Committee, All Party Meetings, seeking opinion of various political parties and many more such exercises were taken up by Sonia Gandhi before coming to the conclusion of creating a new state of Telangana.
There is no truth in the allegations of TDP and YSRCP that she has announced the new state for the sake of retaining power or to merge TRS with Congress or to make Rahul Gandhi Prime Minister. It is not fair to criticize her in word and deed.
This is the time for learned people to realize the truth. It is not fair to criticise and build tombs of a woman who has joined the mainstream and adopted our ethos and culture of our country. Telangana people will adore Sonia Gandhi for generations together as she had taken all criticism in her stride with a smile.