To understand the significance of Telangana movement for statehood, this chapter intends to analyze its historical background of the region in three phases. For that it focus on some of the findings such as variety of causal factors which have been identified as contributors to separatism, including the sense of deprivation or exploitation, recognition of cultural differences, feelings of neglect, unequal economic development, historical wrongs committed against the people of the area, and so on.
The Background: First Phase (1948 ‘ 1956)
The movement for separate statehood of Telangana has a very long history. The process of the movement offers so many different dimensions of the political system in Indian context. Even though India got independence in 1947, the Hyderabad state did not get freedom at that time. During this time, Telangana was a part of erstwhile Hyderabad state. The princely state of Hyderabad under Nizam consisted of three linguistic regions such as Marathi, Kannada and Telugu. Telangana the Telugu speaking region of Hyderabad has acquired a distinct identity and history. Finally the union government incorporated the Nizam princely state into the Indian union after an armed action popularly known as the ‘Police Action ‘ in 1948. In another side the formation of ‘Andhra State’ took place in October 1953 from Madras Presidency in the south region of India and at this time the demand for creation of other linguistic states also acquired prominent place.
In response to the treatment meted out to Hyderabad by the central government after independence, the demand to preserve the identity of the region with the creation of a separate state of Telangana started immediately. Initially people thought that their socio-economic conditions would improve after the integration of the region into the Indian union. But they were dissatisfied and disillusioned with the administration. Moreover after the process of Police Action for the purpose of administrative convenience officials were brought here from the coastal districts and the districts of the then Madras Presidency . These officials showed a condescending attitude towards the local people and treated Hyderabad as an occupied territory.
The word ‘Mulki’ means the natives of Telanagna and outsiders are called as ‘Non-Mulkis’. The patronizing sort of conduct towards the local natives led to an agitation against Non-Mulkis (outsiders) in August 1952. The agitation popularly known as the ‘Mulki’ movement lasted for over one month. During this time students from all over the region actively participated in the movement and finally it was suppressed by the authorities. Thus 1952’s muliki agitation is significant because it shaped the attitude of the people towards the issue of state reorganization. Though the demand for a separate Telangana state had its roots in the Mulki movement it was not articulated by the political groups until the question of state reorganization became a reality. At this juncture the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) was set up by the Government of India (Headed by Fazal Ali) in 1953. Later the SRC recommended that the Telugu-speaking people of Hyderabad should have separate state by the name of Telangana. One principal cause of opposition to Vishalandhra (United Andhra), according to the SRC report,
‘Seems to be the apprehension felt by the educationally backward people of Telangana that they may be swamped and exploited by the more advanced people of coastal areas’.
By taking these fractions into the considerations the commission felt that any safeguards to protect the interests of the Telangana in Vishalandhra may not work longer. Therefore the commission recommended that Telangana should continue as a separate entity. It also noted that the commission had come to a conclusion after considering a ‘complete cross section of public opinion’. In another side the Andhra leaders not only supported Vishalandhra but also actively pursued it. To begin with they appealed to the Telangana leaders to give up the idea of a separate Telangana state. Way back in 1950 itself the Andhra Congress Committee declared this committee (ACC Executive) is not unconscious of the undeveloped state of Telangana both economically and culturally and hasten to assure our brethren in Telangana that it will be the special concern of future government of Vishalandhra to pay special attention to their legitimate interests and rights and their effective share in the administration of that government and to develop such progressive economic and social institution as it will pave the way for the establishment of a cooperative common wealth.
In this context the Andhra leaders prepared to convince the Telangana leaders and peoples by providing written safeguards and guarantees to Telangana people. Moreover in the beginning it seemed that the central leadership was not in favour of Vishalandhra. In October 1953, Nehru criticised the idea of Vishalandhra ‘as bearing a tint of expansionist imperialism’. But consequently he changed his views due to pressures from the leaders of the Andhra region. At this time the Andhra region was actively involved in the national movement very actively. Hence the Congress leaders from the region had strong ties with the national leaders. They used their contacts to persuade Nehru to accept the demand for Vishalandhra. The struggle for representative government led by the Hyderabad State Congress in the erstwhile Hyderabad state remained outside the national movement. In fact the Hyderabad State Congress was not part of the Indian National Congress. Therefore the Congress leaders from Hyderabad had only tenuous contacts with the national leaders. After the central government took a firm decision to form Vishalandhra, the protagonists of the separate state could not continue their battle any further as Chenna Reddy; a staunch separatist admitted ‘Nehru’s stature loomed large. It was difficult to oppose him. Now we believe that we had made a mistake. Had we insisted for a separate state, without fear, it would have emerged’.
By February 1956, the idea of creating separate state of Telangana was dropped and eventually formed a single state called Andhra Pradesh comprising of Andhra and Telangana by Gentlemen’s Agreement. There was also an experiment with Regional Committee under these circumstances to placate the opposition to Vishalandhra in the Telangana region and the leaders of Andhra offered certain safeguards. Through an agreement, known as the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’, certain safeguards were guaranteed to Telangana.
Telangana turns two on June 2 and the State government is pulling out all stops to make it memorable. The Telangana Formation Day also gives us an opportunity to revisit some of the key events that led to the creation of the 29th State of India.
The seeds of Telangana struggle were sown in 1955 when the recommendation of the States Reorganisation Commission to retain Hyderabad as a separate State went unheeded. Telangana leaders accused the people of Andhra of "colonising the region" by grabbing their jobs and land, and the government of not investing in the region's infrastructure. On November 1, 1956, Telangana merged with the State of Andhra, carved out of erstwhile Madras, to form Andhra Pradesh, a united state for the Telugu-speaking populace.
Security personnel patrolling on Jawaharlal Nehru Road (Siddiamber Bazaar) during a 33-hour curfew in Hyderabad on June 05, 1969. Photo: The Hindu Archives/M.A. Rahim
The State witnessed a violent 'separate Telangana' agitation in 1969 and a 'separate Andhra' agitation in 1972. The 1969 stir was primarily started by social groups, students and government employees. Following the agitations, a six-point formula was evolved by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for "accelerated development of backward regions and preferential treatment to local candidates in employment."
Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao (left) and former Governor Kandubhai Desai (right) receiving the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in Hyderabad on September 7, 1972. Photo: The Hindu Archives
Thereafter, the Telangana movement took a political turn. In 1997, the BJP supported demand for Telangana State and in the subsequent year, which saw an election, the party promised ‘one vote two States’. But the push intensified in 2001, when K. Chandrasekara Rao floated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to revive Telangana movement. Many believed it was the creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) states that spurred the demand for Telangana. Three years later, the TRS fought elections in alliance with the Congress and won five Lok Sabha and 26 Assembly seats.
Karimnagar — the hotbed of the movement
During the first phase of the movement in 1969, Karimnagar district emerged as the centrestage for the intensification of agitations. While campaigning for the 2004 elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also announced that she would respect the sentiments of the Telangana people in Karimnagar town by addressing a public meeting. Mr. Rao had contested as MP from the Karimnagar Parliament constituency in 2004.
In 2006 and 2008 by-elections too, he won from the same constituency. In all by-elections in the district, people voted in TRS candidates.
Karimnagar was the host for the intensification of Telangana statehood movement in 2009, when the TRS president had decided to launch a fast-unto-death, demanding the Telangana State. It was the same town where police had arrested KCR, who was on his way to launch his fast-unto-death in Siddipet town.
The movement had spread like a wildfire after his arrest in Karimnagar and several youth had committed suicide for the cause of Telangana.
Following the continuation of his fast-unto-death while in a hospital, the Union government had announced the formation of separate Telangana State on December 9, 2009. However, the government had again gone back on the issue on December 23, 2009.
About 17 pro-Telangana students had launched a fast-unto-death in front in the Osmania University campus after the Centre backtracked on the statehood issue.
Osmania University students staging a protest demonstration over the statehood issue. File Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
Sri Krishna Committee report
On February 3, 2010, a panel headed by Justice (Retd.) B.N. Srikrishna was formed to "bring about a permanent solution” to the statehood demand. The panel met 30 times, visited 23 districts and 35 villages and held interactions with about 100 organisations.
The report of the Committe for Consultation on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh was released by the then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, to representatives of political parties from the State on January 6, 2010. It said, "The united Andhra option is being suggested for continuing the development momentum of the three regions and keeping in mind the national perspective. With firm political and administrative management it should be possible to convey conviction to the people that this option would be in the best interest of all and would provide satisfaction to the maximum number of people in the state."
Click >here to download the full report ( PDF- 7.1 MB)
Click >here to download the summary. ( PDF- 846.5 KB)
Click >here to download the Appendices to the report ( PDF- 10.4 MB)
The Hindu Editorial
The Editorial, dated February 15, 2010, said that "carving out smaller States is too important and complex an issue to be taken in the heat of inflamed passions and under the pressure of political agitations." It called for peace and non-violent means to get to the bottom of the issue. "Those clamouring for a separate Telangana will surely help their own cause by extending full cooperation to the Srikrishna panel, instead of vitiating the atmosphere again by instigating violence or asking elected political representatives to resign. All stakeholders must ensure that the panel succeeds in its rather difficult task of balancing the interests and concerns of different sections and recommending a plan of action towards a solution, as set out in the terms of reference." > More...
Cabinet approves bifurcation
In December 2013, the Union Cabinet approved a Bill for the creation of Telangana State with 10 districts, paving the way for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The Cabinet had broadly approved most of the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers constituted to consider the contentious issues.
The Cabinet’s approval came after the Congress Core Group decided to adhere to the Congress Working Committee’s decision on a Telangana with 10 districts. Meanwhile, Osmania University in Hyderabad was slowly becoming the nerve-centre of the Telangana agitation. Student activists continued their agitation along with political leaders in the struggle.
Passage of the A.P. Reorganisation Bill
- The A.P. Reorganisation Bill was passed in 2014, listing out the specifics involved in the process of bifucation. Some of the salient features the Bill were:
- The Bill envisages Hyderabad as the common capital. The Andhra Pradesh Governor will be Governor for both successor States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- The common capital includes the existing area notified as Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. Centre shall form expert committee to suggest a new capital of Andhra Pradesh within 45 days.
- The Centre will set up an apex council for the supervision of Krishna and Godavari rivers on water sharing.
- 25 Lok Sabha seats to be allocated to residuary Andhra Pradesh and 17 Lok Sabha seats to Telangana.
- Residuary Andhra Pradesh will get 175 Legislative Assembly seats and Telangana 119.
- Existing admission quotas in all government or private, aided or unaided institutions of higher, technical and medical education shall continue for 10 years during which common admission process shall continue.
- The Polavaram Irrigation Project will be declared as a national project and the Centre will take under its control the regulation and development and the Tungabhadra Board will continue to monitor the release of water to high level canal, low level canal and Rajolibanda diversion scheme.
- The High Court at Hyderabad will be common for both States till a separate High Court is set up for residuary Andhra Pradesh.
- Any dispute, regarding financial assets and liabilities, shall be settled through mutual agreement failing which by the Centre’s order on the advice of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
- All properties situated outside existing Andhra Pradesh will be apportioned between the successor States on the basis of population ratio.
- Greyhound and OCTOPUS forces of the existing Andhra Pradesh will be distributed after seeking opinions from the personnel and each of these forces.
- The award made by the 13th Finance Commission to the existing State of Andhra Pradesh will be apportioned between the successor States by the Centre on the basis of population and other parameters.
When years of struggle came to fruition
The last general elections to the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats in united Andhra Pradesh was held in two phases on April 30 and May 7. It was decided that the counting of votes for both phases would be taken up on May 16 and election process will come to an end by May 28. It was notified that the States of Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh would come into effect from June 2.
The chief architect of the separate Telangana agitation, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, was sworn in Chief Minister of Telangana. Mr. Rao’s son K. Taraka Rama Rao and nephew T. Harish Rao, who took active part in the agitation, were among the 11 Cabinet Ministers sworn in at a simple ceremony, punctuated by slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’. Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan administered the oath of office.
And the celebrations began, India's 29th State was born. Photo: Mohammad Yusuf
There was a reason for us to celebrate too!
(Compiled by Sriram Sivaraman)