Telangana issue grabs centre-stage in AP politics again
Hyderabad, Sep 10: After failing to convince the UPA from within, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has brought the statehood issue to the centre stage of Andhra Pradesh politics again throug the ''Telangana Samara Sankaravam''-Telangana Battle Cry in Siddipet, the hometown of TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao.
Hours after Mr Rao, who had quit as Union Labour Minister about two weeks ago, put the ball in the court of the Congress at a public meeting, UPA Sub-Committee member and Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad announced that the Committee headed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee will speed up the process of evolving a consensus as committed in the UPA Common Minimum Programme.
Opining that in the present situaton only the UPA could deliver the goods, Mr Rao, who had threatened to withdraw support to the UPA Government soon after returning from New Delhi after exposing the Congress party before the people of Telangana through a series of public meetings in the length and breadth of the region, exhorted the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress Government in the state to adopt resulutions to facilitate carving out of the new state from Andhra Pradesh.
Explaining to the people the efforts made by the TRS to enlist the support of major parties in Parliament, Mr Rao claims the demand for statehood had the backing of over 35 of the 42 parties in Parliament.
''The Congress is suffering from a mental block'', he feels.
In a bid to put pressure on the Congress, the TRS has announced its plans to come out with video recordings of assurances made by Congress leaders before the polls and their somersault after the elections. ''By aligning with the TRS with the one-point agenda of statehood for Telangana, the Congress has sent out a clear signal to the people that it is committed to the demand'', TRS ideologue Jayashankar, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Kakatiya University feels.
Even as the TRS chief dared the ruling Congress legislators and ministers to quit their posts and contest the elections again to prove whether the Congress had benefitted out of the TRS in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections or otherwise, senior Congress leader and information Minister Md Ali Shabeer threw a personal challenge to senior TRS leader A Narendra to resign from his post and face him in bypoll.
Ruling out any understanding with the BJP, which had openly come out in support of the demand through a resolution at its National Executive meet, Mr Rao has opined that there is no immediate scope for political realignment in the state.
Claiming that the Congress party had offered eight berths for the TRS in the state Cabinet, Mr Rao asserted that the party would not accept anything short of statehood for the region.
Making it clear that development was no substitute to self-rule, the TRS chief felt that since the time of Mr Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, the Chief Ministers in the past had chanted the 'mantra' of development, which was not at all possible in the unified set-up. Development does not mean taking away the precious water resources of Telangana to Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
This was the first show of strength by the sub-regional party after it quit the Congress-led UPA government and its chief went on a hunger-strike to draw the nation's attention to the issue before calling it off on an appeal by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
The meeting saw the participation of over two lakh people from all walks of life, including professors, students, lawyers, farmers and farm workers.
This is the third time that separation of Andhra and Telangana regions assumed the proportion of agitation in the history of the state. In 1969, Congress senior leader Dr M Chenna Reddy founded 'Telangana Praja Samiti' and led the agitation for the bifurcation of the state. He, however, merged his party with the Congress when he was offered a berth in the Union Cabinet and a six-point formula was drawn to do justice to the backward Telangana region.
Three years later, Congress leaders from Coastal Andhra led the 'Jai Andhra Movement' demanding the separation of the Andhra region and alleging that the revenue generated from Andhra was being spent for the development of Hyderabad. Mr Chandrasekhara Rao, who was a minister in the cabinet of the TDP government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had resigned from the party when he was offered Deputy Speaker post and founded the Telangana Rashtra Samiti(TRS) three-and-a-half years ago.
His party won five Parliament and 26 Assembly seats in alliance with the Congress during the 2004 general elections. The party joined both the Union and the state cabinets as the coalition partner of the Congress.
However, TRS ministers in Andhra Pradesh had resigned their posts a year ago protesting against the delay in taking a decision on seperate Telangana state by the Centre.
Mr Chandrasekhara Rao and Narendra after their resignation from the Union Cabinet took the collision course. They are, however, facing the problem of dissidence as four MLAs have raised the banner of revolt, defying the party leadership openly.