[The related posts are at: Telangana - A New State, Telangana II, Telangana III, Telangana IV, Telangana V: Political angle, Telangana VI: Hyderabad State?, Telangana VII: Political Drama, Telangana VIII: You need to make a case, History of Telangana I, Telangana IX: Riots turn ugly, Telangana X: Congratulations!, Vision for Telangana I, History of Telangana II]
Imagine if for convenience, during the time of US Independence they had decided to have only 6 states in the new Union by merging the erstwhile 13 independent nations into groups. Imagine Massachusetts was combined with Connecticut to form a new state. If, after 50 years of trying to make the new combined state work, they realize that it is not working out. They want to separate again. Would Boston that was part of Massachusetts go to Connecticut for any reason? Or would it remain with Massachusetts?
Any observer would easily conclude that Boston would go with Massachusetts. However that’s not how Andhra-Rayalaseema is arguing right now. When Andhra Pradesh was formed, Telangana brought Hyderabad into the state and now when it wants to move out because the marriage of convenience has not worked out they are being deprived of Hyderabad.
Imagine Churchill saying to Indians, you can have India but not New Delhi, because we have invested too much in it. Or imagine Pakistanis claiming New Delhi with an ‘almost’ perfectly reasonable argument that they are inheritors of the legacy and tradition of Mughal Empire - that they invested in heavily and built the city of New Delhi and also contributed to taxes that British used to build Lutyens’ New Delhi.
Hypothetically let’s imagine a situation where in Karnataka is now divided into north and south Karnatakas for whatever reason. Any observer with iota of intelligence would conclude that Bangalore would go to South Karnataka. His logic would be simple – historically and geographically Bangalore was always an integral part of South Karnataka. Now, imagine the residents of Bangalore, comprising huge chunk of Telugus, Malayalis, Tamils and even North Karnataka people who claim that they are actually in majority, protesting against this. They say, they don’t want the IT and biotech to slowdown in the city, and that they are completely averse to be part of the petty politics that is dividing this state. They decide not to get involved. Instead, they say, they want to opt out of this divisive politics and convert their city into a Union Territory depriving both regions of the city.
Imagine Gujaratis claiming Bombay city for themselves at the time of separation in 1960 claiming they have invested heavily into Bombay for centuries. Or imagine the immigrants of Mumbai converting the city into Union Territory depriving the Marathis of the city claiming it is a cosmopolitan city and financial capital of India. Imagine the immigrants depriving the Bengalis of Kolkata.
That’s what is happening in Telangana now.
The Telangana region, with Hyderabad deeply embedded inside it geographically, being part of its culture and historical heritage, being its capital city, joined Andhra Pradesh reluctantly and now it wants to opt out after the 50 year marriage failed. It’s not like Telangana sprung a surprise of separation. Starting from the formation of the state itself it has made many protests through various forums, including protests of 1950s, agitation of 1969, elections of 1971 and through election manifestos in 1990s.
The current situation in Andhra-Rayalaseema
These protests that are being carried out in Andhra for ‘Samaikya Andhra’ sound hollow. When we want to move out of the marriage there is no fun if you keep holding us back. We have been giving you enough feelers for the last sixty years for you to understand we are not happy with the marriage. Time and again you have come up with terms of reconciliation which have failed only because those terms were never implemented – they just remained hollow promises. We want to move out of this relationship but you are not able to understand and appreciate our position.
Why are you imposing yourself onto us when we want to live our lives separately? Can’t you be mature enough to let us go?
The relationship is already sour. Delaying this inevitable separation is only going to make it bitter and if prolonged it is going to make it venomous for all of us. As mature individuals we should decide part ways and stay friends.
There are many immigrants in this country in various cities. Tamils and Gujaratis have made Mumbai their home. Telugus, Malayalees, Tamils have made Bangalore their home. But just because these cities have allowed other people to settle down in their cities should not start making these cities converted into Union Territories or being separated from their regions.
Such experiments have not worked out in history. Geographical continuity is as important as cultural and historical continuity. Berlin was lying in the midst of East Germany and yet some portion remained with West Germany. Billions of Dollars have been spent to keep the city that way and thousands lost their lives – in the end it was sheer waste and just a matter of pride and ego.
Rosaiah said that they would see if there is majority in the Assembly for Telangana. How long will the majority impose itself onto the minorities? Currently, there are 171 MLAs of Andhra and Rayalaseema easily outnumbering 123 MLAs of Telangana. Therefore it is clear there will be no majority. Is this how India is going to protect its minorities? By allowing the majority to vote against minority?
Imagine what must have happened in the past.
Who wants to build canal from Nagarjunasagar dam to Telangana? Say Yes, Say No. Good the majority doesn’t want it.
Now, we have to establish 500 schools? Who says there should 450 in Andhra? Say Yes. Good the majority wants it.
Though this is an exaggeration to drive a point, it was not hard to imagine how this could have unfolded in the last fifty years. In 1950s and 1960s, Congress Party was dominant in Andhra and Rayalaseema because they were under British, while Communist Party was dominant in Telangana. Even if the voting in Assembly was along the party lines which is what happens in India, Telangana would lose out. In 1970s, corrupt MLAs, MPs and CMs of Telangana were brought in to sing the tune of national agenda to keep the state together. These leaders betrayed their own people again and again citing they didn’t have enough power to wield. When the transparency was minimal, when the MLAs could be bought for a sum, when a region is already backward, Telangana MLAs were bought were a price and asked to sing the tune of united state.
Telangana lost out because it had to carry the burden of keeping the marriage working and pretending everything was alright while suffering and enduring discrimination all the while. Telangana lost out because the Indira Gandhi’s Congress was not ready to create more states. Telangana lost out because they had to unnecessarily live with the tag of united Telugu when they were only concerned with their self-rule, self-expression and self-development.
We don’t want continue with charade any longer. We don’t want to be cowed down by the majority of Andhra-Rayalaseema. We just want to be on our own so that our politicians, however vile they are, are at least accountable to us. So that they spend the money they get in our region, even if they eat half of it, at least we get the other half. Self-rule, self-development and self-expression are more important to us than the unity under a tag called Telugu. This tag does not even make sense when many Telangana people actually feel that their language is treated inferiorly by their Andhra brothers.
People of Telangana were a reluctant party to this marriage from the beginning – now we want it to end. We want to go our separate way with our state. If Hyderabad happens to be part of our region, please live with it.
Has it always been about capital city?
Why do you have so much love for people of Telangana that you want stay united with us? Do you have love for us or just the love for our city of Hyderabad? Long ago, you vied the city of Chennai and try to get it from Tamils and you have failed. Now you want city of Hyderabad.
It’s high time people of Andhra built their own capital city and I am quite sure they will build a city far bigger and better than Hyderabad – there is no doubt that people of Andhra are more educated, industrious and enterprising. They have a rich cultural heritage, a far better agriculture economy, much better land reforms, and far more business men. I actually believe this.
I am quite aware of inadequacies of Telangana people. We have to do a lot to overcome our weaknesses. But we want to do that on our own. Hope you understand that.
If United States or France says, come join my country, because we have access to funds and investments, Indians would proudly say, Sorry. We may want to make progress like you, but on our own, not by joining you.