Bammera Pothanamatya (1450-1510), popular as Pothana and who had translated the Bhagavatam into Telugu from Sanskrit, is a household name in the Telugu land and it is no exaggeration to say that no child grows up without learning a few of his Bhagavatam poems.
The place where he had lived about 500 years ago at Bammera in Warangal district had been under encroachment for a considerable period of time and now, after the painstaking efforts of two persons, M Panduranga Rao, a retired professor of NIT, Warangal and BV Papa Rao, a retired IAS officer, the 4-acre and 30-gunta agricultural land, which was tilled by Pothana and the well, whose water was used to irrigate the land, were freed from encroachment and now the place is being developed as Bammera Pothana Smarakam (Memorial).
Pothana’s samadhi (grave) is also situated there.
Pothana was an agriculturist by profession and a poet by passion.
He dedicated his epic work Andhra Mahabhagavatam to Lord Rama.
Apart from freeing the place, where once the great poet lived and worked, efforts are also being made for conserving and propagating his literary works by Panduranga Rao and his partner who founded Kakatiya Heritage Trust with the help of the tourism department.
The state government sanctioned Rs 20 lakh as first instalment against the approved Rs 66 lakh for the B amme r a P o t h a n a Smarakam Project.
Panduranga Rao has plans for seeing that three important places in Warangal district _ Warangal Fort, Thousand Pillar Temple and Ramappa Temple _ find place in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
In fact, Panduranga Rao gave a presentation to that effect at the South India World Heritage Meet organised in Chennai on August 10 which was taken note of by a panel of experts and officials from New Delhi.
Rao laso published a 170- page Hands on Heritage Book, a bilingual book in Telugu and English, to educate people, especially students, about heritage places and the need to protect and conserve them In this tete-a-tete with this correspondent, Panduranga Rao speaks about his concern for heritage places, Kakatiya Heritage Trust, Pothana Smarakam and several other issues.
Here is a glimpse: Q.
What is Bammera Pothana Samarakam project? A.
It aims to protect, conserve and propagate the heritage of Bammera Pothana at Bammera village in Warangal district of Telangana region.
We have purchased the 4 acres and 30 guntas for the land that was tilled by the great poet, who was a farmer by profession.
His Samadhi and the agriculture well are also located there.
When did you free the land from encroachers by buying it? A.
In May 2010 we managed to buy it from the encroachers for Rs 5 lakh.
We thought of developing a memorial and submitted a project report to the government envisaging an outlay of Rs 85 lakh.
What is the master plan? A.
Foremost aspect of the project is construction of a Pothana memorial, a compound wall to protect the property, ameneties to visitors and a library containing the works of Pothana.
Why has the government sanctioned only Rs 20 lakh though Rs 66 lakh was allocated in the budget? A.
The amount was sanctioned for the first phase of the project, in which, compound wall, memorial and landscaping of the place will be done.
We expect to commence the works in couple of weeks once the amount is released.
How do you plan to popularise the place and propagate the heritage of Bammera Pothana? A.
The project is linked to the Warangal Tourism Circuit and its proximity to Palakurthi, which is famous for Sri Someswara Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple, a much-visited pilgrim centre, will be an added advantage.
Q What inspired you to take up the project? A.
In our childhood we used to pray, reciting the poems penned by Pothana and ever since we wanted to do something to convey to the posterity the greatness of the poet.
When it was once established by the historians that Pothana hailed from Bammera village in Warangal of Telangana region, putting an end to controversy that he was from Rayalaseema region, we decided to protect and conserve the heritage of Pothana along with the culture and heritage of Telangana.
In 2009 we floated Kakatiya Heritage Trust.
Q How do you plan to create awareness among the present generation, especially students? A.
Creating awareness among students is very important as they need to know about what we are and what our culture is to safeguard it and pass it on to future generations
mid strong indications of Centre taking a decision on separate Telangana soon, Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu has reiterated that his party will give clarity over the issue during the next fortnight.
Addressing the Telugu Desam Legislature Party meeting here on Friday, Mr. Naidu is believed to have told the MLAs that it was time that the party removed misconceptions among people about its stand on Telangana. There was no change in it and this message needed to be sent across effectively for which he would make an announcement shortly. The party should be geared up to face the gains or loss that could result from such a decision.
Having already made a tremendous impact by his declaration of giving 100 tickets to Backward Classes and sticking to the stand of Scheduled Castes ategorisation, it was important that the party cleared the air on separate statehood issue too, he reportedly told the MLAs.
The party president praised the MLAs and other partymen for organising and actively participating in all the agitations related to unprecedented power cuts. “This has resulted in a positive impact on the people,” he said. Meanwhile, TDP MLAs met Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan and submitted a memorandum demanding summoning of special session of the Assembly to discuss power cuts and other problems faced by people.
Addressing a press conference later, senior TD leader, Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the government had failed to provide even basic facilities required by civilised society. Another leader M. Narasimhulu said the government was not in a position to ensure seven hour power supply to agriculture, pay full reimbursement to BC students and take action against “tainted” Ministers.
Senior legislator G. Muddukrishnama Naidu found fault with All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad for refusing to accept the resignation of Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, who had been charge-sheeted by the CBI.
The BJP and people of Telangana want the present phase of agitation for separate statehood to be the eventual one as further delay in the decision on the issue will cause immense loss to the region development-wise, State unit president of BJP G. Kishan Reddy has said.
Speaking at a ‘meet-the-press’ programme organised by Telangana Journalists Union here on Friday ahead of BJP’s ‘Telangana Poru Deeksha – Satyagraha’ at Delhi from September 3 to 5 pressing for a Bill on Telangana in Parliament, Mr. Reddy said there was no development in Telangana, particularly after the 2009 movement and the woes of people were piling up on all fronts due to continuing injustice.
Sonia, Naidu blamed
He blamed All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu for the stalemate and suicides by 856 youth for the cause of Telangana.
“Further delay on Telangana will only add to the lack of confidence between people of different regions in the State, widen psychological barriers and build suspicion,” Mr. Kishan Reddy said.
TJAC to start protests on September 9 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...tests-on-September-9/articleshow/16289566.cms
With the UPA cool to their separate state demand, Telangana JAC on Thursday urged the people of Telangana to take to the streets with the slogan 'Intiko Manishi, chetiko janda' and take up series of protest programmes starting on September 9 that would culminate in 'Chalo Hyderabad' on September 30 in a bid to re-launch the agitation for a separate state.
The steering committee of Telanagana JAC that met on Thursday decided to revive the agitation and charted out a series of protests that would start with a public rally at Manikyeswara Nagar on September 9.
It will be followed by campaigns at divisional level, and a public rally in Karimnagar on September 16.
"Since we did not get any signal from the Centre, we are forced to re-launch the agitation and the protest will start on September 9," said Swamy Goud, convener of TJAC.
Telangana leaders including chairman of TJAC M Kodandaram, chairman of Telangana non-gazetted officers (TNGO) Deviprasad Rao and general secretary of TNGO Ravindra Reddy took part in the steering committee meeting.
Meanwhile, Byreddy Rajashekara Reddy, who formed the Rayalaseema Rashtra Samithi (RRS) urging for a separate Rayalsaeema state, announced on Thursday that he would take out a 'padayatra' and that leaders of the Rayalaseema Joint Action Committee (RJAC) would meet on Friday in Hyderabad to chart out a plan for agitation.
While BJP has upped the ante on Telangana with its three-day protest at Jantar Mantar and promise to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh if it comes to power in 2014, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is still non-committal.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu said, "We will discuss the issue in our party and then make our stand clear very soon."
With increasing pressure from Telangana leaders within his party and accused by the Centre of being a roadblock in the formation of the new state, Naidu was expected to make his party's position clear during his visit to Delhi.
The TDP chief, however, chose to peddle his 'BC Declaration' which envisages 100 assembly seats for backward classes (BC) from his party in Andhra Pradesh. The declaration also demands reservation of one-third seats for backward classes in all legislative bodies, an exclusive Union ministry for their welfare and reservation in promotion.
Naidu said he had met several leaders across parties to garner support for his declaration, adding that SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was with him on the issue.
"We will also welcome support of all OBC MPs irrespective of their party," said Naidu, who is hoping to corner YSR Congress in Andhra through this.
On Coalgate, Naidu held PM Manmohan Singh directly responsible as the leader of the government, but blamed both the Congress and the BJP for the scam. "Both parties are responsible for shielding the guilty in these scams," Naidu said.
On the Parliament logjam over the issue, he said, "You have to cancel all allocations, institute an enquiry and only then a debate can begin."
The Andhra leader reiterated his support for a third front, saying, "We are anti-Congress and anti-BJP. We are in touch with all like-minded parties."
He, however, ruled out mid-term polls. "The Congress has enough support base and the BJP is not in a position to pull down the government," he said, adding that in any case, bringing down the government has never led to end of corruption and there greater institutional changes were required to stem the rot in the system.
"Anna Hazare had begun a good movement. But they have now entered politics because of which the movement has lost its sheen," Naidu said.
Extending the suspense over a possible forward movement on the Telangana issue, TRS sources said on Friday that the Congress high command asked its president K Chandrasekhar Rao to stay put in the national capital for some 'important talks.'
The monsoon session of Parliament was adjourned sine die on Friday but there were indications that KCR would stay on in Delhi for a few more days. "As KCR was coming out of Parliament, AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad stopped to speak to the TRS leader.
Azad asked KCR how long he would be in Delhi and the latter said for a couple of days more. Upon this, Azad told the TRS chief to stay on as he had something important to discuss," said the sources.
The TRS sources claimed that a meeting between KCR and Azad was likely to happen in the next couple of days. The TRS chief has not been a regular for the Parliament sessions, but set out for Delhi last week stating that he wanted to attend the Lok Sabha. Before leaving Hyderabad two days ago, KCR had said that an important decision on Telangana would happen by the end of September.
In fact, KCR has been confident of a positive announcement on Telangana from the UPA government for the last several weeks now. Addressing a gathering in the first week of August this year, the TRS chief had said that the Telangana forces would wait till August 20 before deciding to relaunch the movement. However, there were no announcements from the Centre but KCR is now claiming that something would happen by the end of this month.
However, the Telangana Congress leaders and Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) representatives are not as enthusiastic about a forward movement on the separate state issue as KCR is.
A delegation of T Congress MPs and TJAC leaders had called on Azad two days ago and impressed upon him the need for an early decision on Telangana. "We do not see any enthusiasm on the part of the UPA government to take a decision on the issue. Hence, we have decided to revive the agitation," a TJAC leader said.
In fact, the TJAC has already reiterated that the Chalo Hyderabad scheduled for September 30 would be held as planned. But the TRS sources were optimistic that some discussions on Telangana would take place between KCR and Azad in the next couple of days.
Eminent freedom fighter and a well-known figure in the Telangana movement, Konda Lakshman Bapuji died Hyderabad on Friday. He was 96.
Bapuji, who was not keeping well for the last few months, breathed his last at his home in Ashok Nagar, family members said. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
Born on Sep 27, 1915 at Wankidi in Adilabad district, Konda Lakshman earned the nickname Bapuji for his participation in the Quit India Movement.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, governor ESL Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu governor K Rosaiah, TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao, Telangana Joint Action Committee convenor M Kodandaram, BJP state president G Kishan Reddy and leaders cutting across party lines paid rich tributes to the veteran leader.
The body has been kept at Padmashali Bhavan in Kachiguda to enable people to pay their last respects. The last rites will be performed Saturday.
Both houses of state legislature paid their respects to Bapuji. The legislators observed a two-minute silence to mourn his death.
The chief minister announced in the assembly that the departed leader's last rites would be performed with state honors. He also declared that a memorial for Bapuji would be built in Hyderabad.
Chandrababu Naidu said Bapuji's services for backward classes would also be remembered. He termed the freedom fighter's death a loss both for the state and the country.
State Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana, Rajya Sabha member K Chiranjeevi, CPI state secretary K Narayana, CPI-M's BV Raghavulu, state ministers, MPs and other leaders paid their last respects.
Bapuji, a socialist, took an active part in the armed struggle against the Nizam government of then Hyderabad State.
He resigned as minister in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet in 1969 to join the movement for separate statehood to Telangana.
The veteran leader had also observed a seven-day fast in Delhi late last year to press the demand for Telangana state and had threatened to go on indefinite fast to achieve the goal.
He alongwith several intellectuals and freedom fighters from Telangana had floated a front last year to intensify the Telangana movement.
He differed with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and other political parties fighting for a separate state and had launched a series of meetings with leaders from the Andhra region to convince them to agree for bifurcation of the state.
Freedom fighter Konda Laxman Bapuji, who died on Friday, was cremated with full state honours at ‘Jaladrusyam’ overlooking Hussainsagar Lake here on Saturday in the presence of family members, a large number of his admirers and Telangana activists besides leaders of political parties.
The pyre was lit by his daughter Pavitra Mani. Earlier, his body was taken in a procession from Padmashali Bhavan, where it was kept to enable people to pay their homage, to Jaladrusyam with brief halts at Gandhi Bhavan and Gun Park memorial in front of the Assembly. The police fired three rounds into the air as a mark of respect to the departed leader at Padmashali Bhavan. Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Speaker N. Manohar, Ministers P. Sabita Indra Reddy, Botcha Satyanarayana, D. Sridhar Babu and Pithani Satyanarayana, former Union Ministers G. Venkataswamy and Bandaru Dattatreya, CPI State secretary K. Narayana, MPs G. Sukhender Reddy, T. Devender Goud and L. Rajagopal were also present.
As speculation rages over creation of Telangana, tension is building up in Hyderabad with pro-statehood forces gearing up for a do-or-die 'Telangana March' on Septmber 30 in defiance of the government ban.
Talk in political circles here say the Congress has been working on a twin-pronged strategy to address the Telangana statehood issue as well as the Jagan factor so as to safeguard its political fortunes in Andhra Pradesh.
Congress is said to be engaging TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao in talks in New Delhi as a prelude to making a formal announcement on Telangana.
Rao, who had been camping in the national capital since September 5, met Union Minister Vayalar Ravi three times in recent days and discussed these issues.
This fuelled speculation that the two parties were firming up a merger deal along with modalities for carving out the separate state though not a single word has been spoken officially by either side.
If at all this turns true, as anticipated, the Congress will become a formidable force in the Telangana region and hope to derive maximum mileage in terms of Lok Sabha seats (17) in 2014.
The other speculation is that the Congress would have a "tacit understanding" with the YSR Congress of Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy in the Andhra-Rayalaseema regions.
Jagan has emerged as a mighty force in Andhra-Rayalaseema regions and the Congress as things stand now may be decimated if the recent bye-election are an indication. The Congress'
target is to grab the majority of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra-Rayalaseema regiion in concert with the YSRC and leave Andhra Pradesh to Jagan.
Such stories spurred the political leaders in the two major parties, Congress and Telugu Desam, to launch an offensive and a counter-offensive for and against the bifurcation of AP.
While the Telangana Congress leaders wrote a letter to their party supremo Sonia Gandhi seeking an early decision on the statehood issue, those from Andhra-Rayalaseema sent out an open appeal for keeping the state united.
The political developments revolving around the statehood issue have put the TDP in a fix, divided as it is along regional lines. Despite many rounds of talks with his colleagues from the two regions, TDP president Chandrababu Naidu is unable to decide on whether or not to communicate the party stand afresh to the Centre.
He, however, asked the TDP rank and file to "be prepared" to accept any decision taken in the "party's interest".
Now, all eyes are riveted on events of September 30
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu tonight shot off a letter to the Prime Minister requesting the Centre to immediately resolve the contentious Telangana issue and asked it to convene an all-party meeting immediately where his party's stand would be clearly spelt out.
He reminded Prime Minister Mnamohan Singh that the TDP had made its stand known on the Telangana demand through a letter to the Pranab Mukherjee Committee way back in 2008.
Accusing the Centre of "complicating" the statehood issue, Chandrababu regretted that it had failed to take a call on the issue so far and thereby pushed Andhra Pradesh into a deep crisis
He accused the Congress and the TRS of trying to gain political mileage out of the Telangana issue.
TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao today said Andhra Pradesh government should give permission to the proposed 'Telangana March' of September 30 here.
Fearing violence, the police have so far not given permission to the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) to organise the march at Tank Bund on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake here.
Condemning the alleged arrests of TRS activists and other Telangana supporters in the run-up to the march, the TRS president said the government should give the permission for a peaceful conduct of the event.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders from Telangana region have expressed different views on the march. While some said they supported it, others said the event should not lead to violence as immersion of Ganesh idols would take place on September 29 and 30. It would be followed by international biodiversity convention from October 1.
An amicable solution was found on Friday to the standoff over permitting the Telangana March in Hyderabad on September 30 when the government gave the go-ahead to the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) after extracting a commitment in writing from the organisers that they will not give any scope for disruption of law and order during the rally.
After several rounds of discussions with his Cabinet colleagues, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy agreed to permit the rally on the Necklace Road and not the Tank Bund as proposed by the organisers in view of the bitter experience during the ‘Million March’ last year when the statues were vandalised.
The government assured the organisers that, barring anti-social elements taken into preventive custody, all the other protagonists of separate Telangana would be released by Saturday.
There was, however, no clarity about the duration for which the rally would be permitted even as Minister K. Jana Reddy said the finer details, including the timings, would be finalised in consultation with the officials concerned.
Mr. Jana Reddy, along with Home Minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy, B. Saraiah, N. Uttam Kumar Reddy and G. Prasad Kumar, held elaborate discussions with the TJAC leaders for over three hours.
Congress MPs Ponnam Prabhakar and S. Rajaiah, TRS floor leader E. Rajender, BJP senior leader Bandaru Dattatreya, CPI leader Palla Venkat Reddy and constituents of the TJAC, including employees participated in the deliberations. Mr. Jana Reddy said since the government had considered the aspirations of the people in according permission to the rally, it was now up to the pro-Telangana activists to ensure that their message was communicated to the Centre in a peaceful manner.
Mr. Jana Reddy said the meeting discussed about the apprehensions about the possibility of untoward incidents ahead of the UN Convention on Biodiversity beginning in Hyderabad on October 1. An in-depth analysis was still under way to ensure peaceful conduct of the March as the government thought it was appropriate to allow the people to exercise their right of expression.
TJAC chairman M. Kodandaram described the development as the first victory of the people, but the main objective was to mount pressure on the Centre to implement its December 9, 2009 assurance on initiating the process for separate Telangana utilising the March as an opportunity.
He hoped that the government would fulfil its assurance of releasing the arrested people.
Braving heavy rain, thousands of protesters demanding a separate Telangana state refused to leave Necklace Road here even as the deadline set by police ended on Sunday evening. The marchers earlier clashed with security personnel.
Police used water cannons to disperse protesters after they squatted on the road on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake.
Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M Kodandaram and other leaders said the protest would continue till the central government agrees to the demand for a separate state.
Police had given permission for the march from 3pm to 7pm.
Earlier, protesters set afire two police and four media vehicles and tried to attack two restaurants and a multiplex. People from the city and neighbouring districts converged on Necklace Road as tension mounted due to clashes in surrounding areas.
Holding flags of their respective parties and groups, the protesters squatted on the Buddha Bhavan-PV Ghat stretch. Hundreds of youngsters occupied the parallel railway track.
Raising slogans of "Jai Telangana" amid the beating of drums and singing songs by Telangana artists, men, women and children from various sections asked the central government to make Telangana a separate state.
Leaders of the JAC, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and organisations of students, employees, lawyers, women and trade unions were on the dais.
Youngsters removed barricades and clashed with police to advance towards the secretariat and other high-security areas. Police fired tear gas shells in at least three places to disperse protesters who tried to remove barricades.
Police twice arrested MPs from the ruling Congress from Telangana who staged a sit-in in front of the chief minister's office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad.
A section of state ministers from the region threatened to quit.
The cancellation of dozens of trains and buses in Telangana region and the arrests of hundreds headed to the state capital angered pro-Telangana groups, who alleged that the government was trying to suppress the movement despite giving permission for the march.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was deployed at the chief minister's camp office in Begumpet.
Several parts of the city resembled battle zones, with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the chief minister's office and other high-security areas.
Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked traffic in support of the march.
Amid fears that properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions could be attacked, many roads were sealed off. Police chief Dinesh Reddy monitored the situation from a helicopter.
At Osmania University, students stoned police.
JAC convenor M Kodandaram condemned what he said was a government conspiracy to foil the march by cancelling trains and buses from various parts of Telangana to Hyderabad.
Another Telangana leader, N Janardhana Reddy, threatened to disrupt the UN global biodiversity meet opening here Monday.
Tension gripped Hyderabad all through the day as police lobbed teargas shells and used force to foil the Telangana march, as thousands of people tried to converge at the Necklace Road.
Sporadic violence was witnessed as the agitators clashed with police at several places, including Osmania University campus and Khairatabad. Police put barricades and barbed wire fencing at several places in the city, and allowed people to reach the venue only through a single route. With the entry blocked at several places, agitators pelted stones and also set fire to a few media and police vehicles.
Khairatabad, Telugu Thalli Flyover and the State Secretariat were the flash points where hundreds of protesters tried to remove the barricades and make their way to the venue. At Osmania University, students and police were engaged in a pitched battle, after the latter refused permission to proceed to Necklace Road.
After denying permission for the T-JAC protest for days, the State Government finally agreed to allow the March on Sunday evening for four hours.
Though this ended a thaw ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the leaders of T-JAC (Telangana Joint Action Committee), alleged that the police have resorted to violence.
They also alleged that the police have stopped trains, buses and trucks to stop Telangana activists from the region from attending the protest march.
Telangana Cong MPs, ministers planning to quit en masse http://www.rediff.com/news/report/t...isters-planning-to-quit-en-masse/20120930.htm
The repression let loose by the government and the police against the Telangana [ Images ] supporters to stop them from participating in "Sagara Haaram" program has left the Telangana Congress ministers and MPs very angry and upset and some of them have started talking in terms of tendering their resignations.
The situation arising out of the arrest of the Telangana Congress MPs was also discussed at a meeting at the residence of senior Congress leader K Keshav Rao and question of tendering their resignations also came up there, sources said.
Even before the meeting Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and K Jana Reddy, another senior minister from the region, said that they were seriously considering the question of quitting the cabinet.
Keshav Rao said that the state government had cheated the people of Telangana by going back on its promises that no body will be arrested while coming to attend the march and no obstacles will be created.
He said in open violation of this agreement, the police arrested people throughout the day and many trains were cancelled.
"When we asked the railway minister for the reasons for cancellation, he said that the government had asked for it".
Keshav Rao said that he was aghast that the government was asking for the cancellation of trains.
He was also angry that despite promising to allow the march on Necklace Road, the government restricted it only up to PV Ghat.
He said that all the Telangana MPs were very disturbed and not able to take any immediate decision on their next course of action.
"We are now in a very serious stage of our discussions. We need some time to take our final decision", he said grimly.
Loud agitations in Hyderabad fail to dent the Centre’s silence
The Telangana March held on September 30 was hailed as a success. People from all walks of life trudged miles, dodged police and braved a heavy downpour to reiterate their demand for a separate state.
But will this march be just another blip on the Centre’s radar? Is the Congress-led UPA really taking note of the agitations and protests for Telangana? In Hyderabad, which is the centre of all such agitations, no one has any idea how New Delhi views the popular sentiment for Telangana and the passion with which people are willing to fight for a separate state.
Nearly three years after P. Chidambaram’s famous statement on December 9, 2009, that the process of creating a Telangana state had been set in motion, no one in the region knows clearly what the Centre or the Congress Working Committee plans to do about the demand for a Telangana state and when. Not even a hint has come from the Congress, let alone assurance. There is only speculation: some say an announcement is expected this week, some say it will happen soon, others feel it may take more time.
Meanwhile, there have been numerous protests, strikes, shutdowns and suicides. Osmania University students have borne the brunt of police action while participating in protests for a separate Telangana state. But after Chidambaram’s statement in 2009, things have not really moved forward, beyond the Srikrishna Committee report, which indicates that the process of creating a new state is actually going on. A few resignations aside, even elected members not have much visible effort.
Some who resigned in protest against the delay in creating the new state got re-elected; others did not and the matter rests there. Over the last three years, during every Parliament and state assembly session, MPs and MLAs from Telangana have protested either inside or outside the House, raised slogans and issued statements. Every time, after a brief furore, it all becomes quiet until another occasion arises. It is common for Hyderabad journalists to rush to the houses of Telangana Congress MPs or to MLA quarters, expecting to hear some news on Telangana. But with the ball in the Centre’s court, no one really has any information that is not based on speculation. Even seasoned Congress MPs and leaders have not been able to elicit a proper response from the Congress high command. Worse, they are not even sure whether the Centre takes the Telangana issue as seriously as people in Hyderabad do.
The president of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), K. Chandrasekhar Rao, claimed that a Telangana state would be declared “very soon’’ while Union minister Vayalar Ravi stated that people from all regions had to be consulted and a consensus evolved before a decision could be taken. Such disparate claims and statements only add to the Telangana conundrum.
Another major impediment to arriving at a solution is the lack of direct communication between grassroot pro-Telangana groups like the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), which organised the September 30 March and the million march last year, and the Congress at the Centre. It was only recently that TJAC members met senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for the first time. Otherwise, they depend on Telangana Congress MPs to communicate with the high command. However, it appears that Congress MPs from Telangana are not able to assert themselves and cut no ice with the decision-makers in Delhi. They usually dash off to the AICC all charged up about the demand for a Telangana state but are handed a ticket back home, along with a few soothing words on the matter being under serious consideration. As a regional political party, the TRS can spearhead the Telangana agitations but is unable to force the hand of the Congress.
The constitution of the Srikrishna Committee in 2009 bought time for the Congress to put off making a decision on Telangana. The committee submitted its report in January 2011, suggesting six options that were unacceptable to everyone, which gave the Congress more reason for delay. But the party also has its own reasons for treading gingerly on the matter. Congress MPs and MLAs from coastal and Rayalaseema regions form a strong anti-Telangana pressure group. They are especially opposed to Hyderabad becoming the capital of the proposed state, making the whole issue a prickly one for the party. The most convenient — though highly debatable — option for the Congress seems to be to let the stalemate continue.
An upbeat chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy asserted on Tuesday that no forward movement on Telangana can happen now as politics cannot be the ground for carving out a separate state. In what is being seen as a missile aimed at the TRS and other political parties and organizations like Telangana political JAC, BJP and CPI who are seeking the division of the state, the chief minister in separate interviews to national English news channels on Tuesday said: "The Telangana issue cannot be seen from the prism of politics. Politics cannot be the ground for the division of the state."
This is the strongest statement issued by Kiran Kumar on the demand for Telangana and comes a few days after his assertion in Krishna district that no state can be divided until there is a consensus for the same and a majority agrees to the proposal. "The CM's statement seems to indicate that he has been given the green signal to be assertive against the demand for Telangana. This appears to have been communicated to him after the successful handling of the Chalo Hyderabad march on September 30," analysts said.
However, the TRS was quick to condemn the CM's statement and indications are that party supremo is all set to return to Hyderabad on Wednesday and take on all who are opposing the demand for Telangana. Confirming to TOI that K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) will return to the state capital on Wednesday, TRS politburo member B Vinod Kumar, who is accompanying the party chief in Delhi, said Kiran Kumar had no locus standi to make such statements. "When everybody including the CM is playing politics, what does he mean by saying that politics cannot be the grounds for dividing the state? If that is the case, why did his party include the creation of Telangana in the 2004 election manifesto? Why was the Srikrishna committee formed? And why did then Union home minister P Chidambaram make a statement on Telangana? Kiran has to justify all these," Vinod Kumar said.
Meanwhile, despite the apparent tension between the TRS and TJAC over holding the Chalo Hyderabad march, several TJAC members turned optimistic after hearing that KCR would return to town on Wednesday. TJAC leader M Swamy Goud said he was hopeful that KCR will once again take the pivotal role in the Telangana movement being carried out by them. "We will appeal to KCR to assume the guiding role for the TJAC as his leadership and guidance is very much needed in the prevailing situation," Goud said.
Reacting to reports of TJAC putting pressure on Telangana ministers in his cabinet to resign and strengthen the movement, the chief minister in his interview said any decision to resign is the individual prerogative of the minister and that he would not tolerate any such pressure being put on them. "Those who want to resign from the cabinet can convey their wish to the party state-in-charge and do so. However, resignations are personal decisions. But, if anybody exerts pressure on them or tries to influence them to resign, it is my responsibility to ensure that the ministers are protected," he said.
Even as cracks are showing up in the unity of Telangana Political Joint action committee (TJAC) post mass rally held on last Sunday, TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao is returned to Hyderabad on Wednesday evening after his month-long sojourn in Delhi and a divide among T-protagonists is providing a perfect setting for him to resume lead role of the separate state movement.
While M Kodandaram, chairman of TJAC, led the Sunday's Telangana March on Necklace Road, hoarse were raised against his milder way of leadership thanks to which extremists like Telangana Liberation Front leader Vimalakka dominated on the dias and went on to fire salvos on KCR for his Delhi stay when Telangana region was on boil.
"It is true that we failed to lead the rally effectively on Sunday, and we could have been more assertive to regulate mischievous elements. As the experience showed us that we have to have a stronger leadership, we want appeal to KCR to lead from the front," said Swamy Goud, convener of TJAC.
While Swamy Goud was sincere enough in expressing his concern on the possibility of the movement slipping into the hands of vested interests, insiders said he was just echoing the sentiments of TRS leaders who want to reclaim their party's hegemony on Telangana which is being challenged by the other stake holders like BJP, and CPI especially after the saffron national party handed a shocking defeat to TRS in its bastion Mahbubnagar in a bypoll held earlier this year.
Cold vibes were started to be felt between Kodandaram and KCR post Mahbubnagar bypoll as the latter felt the former helped the BJP in garnering voters' support in the constituency, and bickering worsened when the TJAC unilaterally announced the Telangana rally without taking TRS into confidence. Following the announcement KCR embarked on Delhi visit, on September 5, saying he was getting 'positive signals' from UPA government on Telangana and even suggested the Telangana rally was not necessary. When his efforts to check TJAC's advances apparently failed, KCR obliged to send his party leaders to take part in the rally on Sunday at a last minute. And the TRS leaders beat retreat from the dais after Vimallakka's remarks in protest of the party was being insulted.
"There is a general feeling that the TJAC unilaterally went ahead to announce the agitation plan when the TRS was exploring political means to realize Telangana. KCR is always there for the movement as he is the one who created the TJAC and he will continue to guide from the front," said Dr. Sravana Dasoju, a politburo member of TRS.
Although Kodandaram resorted to damage control exercise by condemning Vimalakka's remarks by saying "Negotiations at Delhi is as important as the agitation on streets", his explanation has hardly given a healing touch. And the sources said KCR would put in efforts to sideline Kodandaram and take control on TJAC.
The Andhra Pradesh unit of the BJP on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should make a statement on the issue of separate statehood for Telangana before his visit to the state scheduled later this month.
Ruling party MPs and ministers belonging to Telangana region should mount pressure on the PM who is scheduled to visit state capital here to attend Conference of Parties (CoP-11) on bio-diversity, state party's official spokesperson NVSS Prabhakar told reporters here.
"If they (Congress MPs and Ministers of the region) are sincere on the issue, they should put pressure on party highcommand as well as the Prime Minister to make a statement before his visit," he said.
Also, let ruling party MPs and ministers of Telangana , who have been harping on the issue, oppose the Prime Minister's visit if they are really sincere and committed for the cause of Telangana, Prabhakar dared.
The recent statements of Congress party's central leaders including Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and state Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy have clearly indicated that the UPA government is not at all in a mood of carving out of a separate state for Telangana, he said.
When asked whether state BJP party would organise any protest demonstrations during the Prime Minister's visit, Prabhakar said the party would hold a meeting soon and decide on it.
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