Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi stirred a hornet’s nest in Telangana when he raked up the bifurcation issue in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, and in the process, needlessly opened old wounds.
Motion of Thanks
Replying to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Modi, while targetting the Congress for their remarks on the BJP government’s policies, referred to the manner in which the State of Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh during the Congress regime. “People do not forget things easily. I want to remind the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha about the manner in which proceedings regarding the creation of Telangana took place. Doors were closed and live telecast was prohibited,” he said.
The Prime Minister went on to add: “Did our former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Sigh not remark that democracy is being harmed due to protests on the Telangana issue? Atalji created not one but three states. The entire process was done in an amicable manner, unlike what happened during the creation of Telangana.”
No connect between Kashmir issue, TS formation
What raised eyebrows in Telangana political circles was that Modi was essentially replying to Congress allegations on the abrogation of Article 370 pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir. Political pundits were quick to point out that there was no connect between the Kashmir issue and the formation of Telangana State, akin to North and South Pole, and that the Prime Minister’s remarks reeked of frustration, given the party’s existential dilemma in Telangana State.
Even more flummoxing is the fact that Modi himself led the pack of national leaders and experts who showered accolades on the new State for the rapid all round development it had witnessed in the first five years of its existence. Telangana’s emergence as a State to reckon with on all fronts from being just a parched, debt-ridden and drought-prone region is a testimony of the past neglect and the need for it to be liberated to establish its own existence. The Prime Minister’s observations are also seen as unwarranted particularly at a time when the two Telugu States, thanks to the initiatives of Chief Ministers K Chandrashekhar Rao and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, are working together to resolve all bifurcation issues.
Early reactions began with Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy, condemning the Prime Minister’s comments, stating that the latter lacked understanding on the subject. “Formation of Telangana State was the result of 60 years of struggle and sacrifices by hundreds of people. It is because of the Telangana movement that Mulki rules, 610 GO, Pranab Mukherjee committee and Sri Krishna Committee were established. But the process of bifurcation of the State was delayed,” he pointed out.
Statehood for Telangana, the Minister said, was granted only after the people continued with their fight relentlessly for years. “There was no other alternative than to fulfil the long-standing dream of the people of Telangana region,” he said, and reminded the Prime Minister that it was the BJP that said it would grant separate Statehood within 100 days of coming into power if the Congress failed to deliver the goods.
KCR’s fast unto death
Giving a long list of events that resulted in the carving of the new State, Niranjan Reddy said the Centre finally relented only after the final phase of agitation launched by Chandrashekhar Rao in 2001 and his fast unto death in 2009. “That is the time when there was no other option left for the government and also for the national parties to declare support for the cause of Telangana,” he said.
“Modi had on an earlier occasion too made a mindless comment that while carving Telangana, the mother was killed and the child was saved. Your ‘closed doors’ comment is nothing but belittling the sacrifices of the people who died for the cause of Telangana,” Niranjan Reddy rued.
He said that it was on December 30, 2010, that the Sri Krishna Committee submitted its report to the Centre. On December 28, 2012, the Central government called for an all party meeting. The Pranab Mukherjee committee was set up in 2004 and the Rosaiah committee in 2009. A cabinet committee was established on October 8, 2013, which submitted its report to the government. The Centre then accepted the report on February 7, 2014. “Only then did the subject come up for discussion in both the houses of Parliament,” Niranjan Reddy pointed out.
“In 1969 alone, 369 Telanganites died in police firing. And the PM’s comment on an agitation this long is highly condemnable,” he said.