Many milestones in the saga of separate Telangana

Written by PTI | Hyderabad | Updated: Feb 22 2014, 15:17pm hrs
Telangana journeyThe passage of Telangana Bill in Rajya Sabha today marks the realisation of a demand which cropped up almost 60 years ago. (The Indian Express)
The passage of Telangana Bill in Rajya Sabha today marks the realisation of a demand which cropped up almost 60 years ago and saw a journey punctuated by violent agitations and stiff resistance from certain quarters.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014, which envisaged creation of a separate state of Telangana, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday last and received the Upper House's nod today, bringing to an end a long-drawn legislative process which had its share of acrimony, high drama inside and outside Parliament and also generated intense political heat.

The separate statehood agitation is based on the contention that "justice" has not been done to Telangana in distribution of water, employment opportunities and development funds in Andhra Pradesh, the first state in the country to be formed on linguistic basis.

The protagonists of "integrated Andhra", however, dismiss the notion of injustice and assert the region has witnessed rapid development in all spheres since the formation of Andhra Pradesh.

Interestingly, a spirited agitation for formation of separate Andhra state, delinking Telangana, popularly known as "Jai Andhra" movement, had also taken place in 1972.

There have been a number of milestones in the saga of separate Telangana. The formation of AP on linguistic basis by merging Telugu-speaking areas in erstwhile Madras state and the princely state of Hyderabad was preceded by a long fight by Andhraties for a separte state.

The Andhra people had been struggling for the formation of a separate Andhra Province out of Madras state since the British period but did not succeed. When India attained Independence, they hoped their long-cherished desire would be realised soon. But it was not to be.

However, the moment of reckoning came when Potti Sriramulu, a Gandhian, began a fast-unto-death which was largely ignored by the Centre. Sriramulu attained martyrdom on December 15, 1952, which led to a popular upsurge.

The government of Jawaharlal Nehru was taken aback by the agitation. The PM announced in Lok Sabha in 1952 that the Andhra state would be formed. On October, 1 1953, Andhra state came into existence with Kurnool as capital.

Meanwhile, the Nizam of Hyderabad sought to become independent and the efforts to unify the Hyderabad State with Indian Union did not fructify immediately.

State Congress leaders, led by Swami Ramanand Tirtha, held a movement for merger of Hyderabad State with the rest of the country.

The Indian Government decided to curb violent tendencies by launching a 'Police Action' against the Nizam on September 13, 1948. The Indian Army, led by Major-General J N Chaudhuri entered the State from five directions and the military action was a grand success.

On September 18, 1949, Nizam's forces surrendered. Five days later, the merger of Hyderabad Dominions into the Indian Union was announced.

In January 1950, M K Vellodi, a senior civil servant, was made the Chief Minister of the State and the Nizam was designated "Raj Pramukh". After the 1952 General Elections, the first popular ministry headed by B Rama Krishna Rao took charge of the State.

The creation of Andhra State in October 1953 strengthened the general demand for linguistic States and the idea of "Visalandhra" (formation of a large Telugu-speaking state) was mooted.

Andhra Pradesh was inaugurated on November 1, 1956 with Hyderabad as its capital following an agreement (Gentlemen's agreement) between the leaders of Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.

In 1969, an agitation for formation of separate Telangana began seeking implementation of the safeguards provided for the region. About 300 people were reportedly killed in the agitation.

In a development that helped the separate Telangana cause in no small measure, BJP came out in support of statehood demand and it promised "one vote, two states" in the 1998 election.

The statehood agitation got a major boost in 2001 when then TDP leader K Chandrasekhar Rao formed the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to fight for separate state.

TDP announced support for separate Telangana demand in 2008 and TRS joined hands with the Chandrababu Naidu-led party in the 2009 elections.

On July 30, 2013, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) favoured formation of separate Telangana. The Union Cabinet approved the proposal to divide AP in October 2013.

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, however, raised a banner of revolt against the proposal to divide the State but resigned when Lok Sabha passed the Telangana Bill.

In 1972, the "Jai Andhra" movement began in Coastal Andhra for creation of a separate Andhra state following a Supreme Court order upholding "Mulki" rules (which reportedly barred those from non-Telangana regions to compete for posts in Hyderabad).

In 1975, a Presidential order was issued to implement "six-point formula" providing some safeguards to Telangana.

Congress fought the 2004 elections in alliance with TRS and they came to power in AP on the back of a strong discontent against the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government.

The Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre included the Telangana issue in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in 2004. However, there was not much forward movement on the statehood issue in the next few years.

Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the popular Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, died in a chopper crash in September 2009 which subsequently led to the resurrection of TRS and its Telangana agenda.

The TRS President began a fast unto death towards the end of 2009 and the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram announced on December 9, 2009 that steps would be taken for the formation of separate Telangana.

However, in the wake of strong protests in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, the Centre announced on December 23, 2009 that more consultations would be held on the contentious and highly emotional issue.

The Centre set up a commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna, which presented six options to the Centre.

After the Union Cabinet approved the bifurcation, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was appointed to go into the modalities of carving out a separate state.

The Union Cabinet approved the draft AP Reorganisation Bill on December 5 based on the recommendations of the GoM.

President Pranab Mukherjee referred the draft Bill to the AP Legislative Assembly for its views. However, the Bill was rejected by the Assembly on January 30 amid din.

Kiran Reddy staged an unprecedented sit-in in Delhi on February 5 to oppose the bifurcation. Ignoring his protest, the Centre tabled the Bill in Parliament for passage.

Central Congress Ministers and MPs from Seemandhra left no stone unturned to stall the legislation in both Houses of Parliament, but in the end could not stop Telangana state from becoming a reality.