Hyderabad: Rulers, political leaders are not known to appreciate, understand any criticism, critique of their policies. What we witness today in the State of Telangana is a huge hype about the great achievements of the TRS [read KCR] government. Going by the electoral manifesto of the TRS , barring the two projects-Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya fruits of which have yet to be seen , there is not much that one can boast of. For two years people waited, giving the government time to settle down.
While huge funds were being spent on Yagams and temple constructions, in the rural areas farmers were committing suicides, drought robbed them of their livelihoods, rural and poor urban children waited to get better education from government schools, women were breaking their backs to earn a little more to send them to private schools, educated youth was waiting to secure some jobs even with meager salaries, Universities were waiting for funds to fill up long vacant jobs and run the educational institutions, public health system in the most deplorable condition with governments hospitals deprived of even primary medicines and the poor and the middle classes being forced to approach private hospitals at formidable costs which they pay by selling their property if they have any or taking loans.
In the name of building irrigation projects, industries, IT start ups etc. land was being acquired by the government, completely in violation of land acquisition Acts. In the name of reorganizing the State, more districts have been created irrespective of the views and demands of the people. The promise of decentralized governance of 73rd, 74th Constitutional Amendments is totally undermined and Panchayats have been rendered powerless.
Two years after the formation of the State, people began to get impatient and rightly so. The problem is that the party in power believes that it alone bore the burden of making Telangana State a reality, neither the people nor the people’s organizations of different hues, not even the TJAC had any role in the struggle. This usurpation of the credit for achieving Telangana by the TRS is a manifestation of arrogance of power and blindness to history to say the least.
It, the TRS may rightly question the credit claimed by the Congress Party for ‘granting’ the Telangana State. But can it ignore, deny the contribution of the TJAC in mobilising the people and creating a movement in the most democratic manner without ever using violence, and setting an example as a new social movement that gave political power to the people of Telangana? It sounds comical when some who were in fact part of the TJAC and various JACs that made up the TJAC who have now joined the political power circles, question the role of TJAC and its contribution to the struggle for Telangana.
Is this not an example of ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’? Why are there no answers to the questions raised by the people and TJAC whether it is about the Land Acquisition Act or about powers to the Panchayats or about education and health systems ? Instead, these issues are dismissed and those who raise such questions are termed enemies of the State that is TRS. Now the police have busied themselves, arresting people who are protesting, members of local JACs in the districts and in the city. Are we veering towards a police State?
Those who are in power and the party in power must learn to listen to critique and answer questions raised by the people and not ridicule them in a cheap way.
Above all the Party and those in power must realize that if something is indeed done for the people, say for example building five hundred and odd houses for the poor, it is not charity nor a gift of those in power but the Right of the people to a decent life which the Constitution of India guarantees to its citizens. What democracy needs is statesmanship, not authoritarianism.
Rama Melkote[Prof. Retd. Osmania University.]