Need Statesmen in Telangana

Realisation of Telangana State is a joy for many. Tenacity, perseverance and grit of many individuals, organisations and people did play a significant role in the formation of Telangana State. There is no doubt about it. Leadership of Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao in steering Telangana Rashtra Samiti through various phases is appreciated by friends and foes. Today, a section of Telanganaites rever him so much that they started comparing him Mahatma Gandhi. Telangana Mahatma, Father of Telangana are being used.

Many would vouch for his political shrewdness, and would acknowledge him as a wily man. More than a decade back, he was ridiculed for his idea to bring Telangana through electoral politics. He held extensive discussions on the strategies required for demerger of Telangana State. His view then was that Telangana State can be formed only by making it a political and electoral issue. And, then later, after formation of Telangana Rashtra Samithi, time and again and much later, he had repeatedly said TRS has been formed only to realise Telangana State. KCR had also announced time and again in various meetings that any other issue can be discussed only after the formation of Telangana State. I particularly remember when his visited a village downstream of Hyderabad, which was affected by polluted water flowing in Musi river. He promised them that after Telangana formation, he would solve it. Villagers were not happy, as it has become a life and death situation for them. Yet, KCR kept on ‘postponing’ discussions and debates on possible solutions for many issues at various places across Telangana. Ofcourse, he also started promising a dream land of bliss, comfort and employment. He carefully avoided issues of potential intra-Telangana conflict. With the formation of Telangana, his position on various issues would become critical. And, such positions would also decide upon his status, as a visionary or ordinary person.

Telangana realisation was because of various contributions starting with the sacrifices made by youth (in the form of suicide, agitations and foregoing of their careers), involvement of different organisations and individuals, and the firmness displayed by Smt. Sonia Gandhi. From July, 2013, starting with the CCW resolution, a number of hurdles have been created in the formation of Telangana State. It was only because of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, who had repeatedly assured that CWC resolution has to be implemented, since this decision came after consultations and approvals from various sections and political parties. Final step, in the formation of Telangana State, was possible only because of this grit, displayed by Smt. Sonia Gandhi. While there cannot be any comparison on whose contribution was what, how much and at what cost, either qualitatively or quantitatively, every contribution needs to be acknowledged for whatever it may have been.

There would be endless debates on such contribution. KCRs contribution is also being discussed. This reminds us of the discussion of Mahatma Gandhi’s role in bringing independence to India. However, the big issue, in the aftermath of the formation of Telangana State, is how and what form this acknowledgement can be. Expectations would be there, no doubt. A ‘blank cheque’ realisation of this contribution, in terms of whatever expectations can be, may not be possible. However, sacrifices need to be acknowledged. For example, a family of youth who committed suicide, demanding Telangana State, can be rehabilitated as per their need and ability, to the extent that they can lead their life normally, happily and contented. So is the case with every contribution. Politics over Telangana ‘freedom fighters’ would be a major emotional issue. Selective and/or partial acknowledgement would give scope for fissures and heart burn.

With KCR himself leading a surge for acknowledgement, it remains to be seen how and to what extent he would be able to satisfy these demands for acknowledgements. Would they be limited to words, symbols, higher social status or personal economic gains, etc.?

KCR had at one stage, sensing the difficulties in the separation, especially thinking that there is a political obstacle, had announced that TRS would be merged with Congress. He had repeated this ‘offer’ several times, in response to apprehensions about sharing of political gains, after the formation of Telangana State. Then, it was considered as a brilliant political stroke. There was no hint of any pre-conditions in this offer. But, post-Bill, merger of TRS with Telangana Congress seems to be in trouble. There are reports there is a section of TRS is opposed to such merger. And, KCR is not yet decided on unconditional merger. Delay, in either alliance or merger, would not augur well for both parties and can change the politics from bonhomie to bitterness.

In 2004, when TRS and Congress had entered into alliance, and TRS has reaped a few MLA seats, many people thought this is a beginning for a more united push towards Telangana. However, KCR by his intemperate language has missed an opportunity of becoming a Statesman, then. Probably, a conciliatory, strategic approach might have prevented Y. S. Rajashekhar Reddy’s influence in Telangana, and created an positive atmosphere for Telangana formation, much before than 2014.

No one can disagree that on the eve of elections, especially after formation of Telangana State, various aspirations have to be reconciled. Conflicting and contradictory claims have to be responded to. At various levels, expectations have to be met. Political jostling for a chance to serve the people of Telangana has already begun. In this situation, instead of playing a role of Statesman, KCR seems to be veering towards a partisan role and serving narrow interests.

Reconstruction of Telangana and sustainable development of Telangana is possible, when all political forces align themselves to the aspirations of the people. This is not easy, ut not impossible either. A leader of a party, which has announced itself as an agitational party, has the work cutout for himself. KCR should play the role of a Statesman and shun the role of a sectional leader. He has that mandate, given by an admiring crowd of Telangana enthusiasts. His name would be permanently etched in the memory of Telangana, if and if he plays that role. He should no longer see himself as the President of one party.

Not just KCR, political leaders who wanted change because power was not with Telangana people, should transform themselves into statesmen, and enable growth of honest, committed and visionary youth in the political spectrum. Negotiations, reconciliations, acknowledgment and responsiveness can be built into political system, if all Telangana politicians shed their personal interests.

An equitable, justiciable, democratic political platform can help in enabling progress and development of Telangana. Current political trends are a cause of concern. While the geography has been redefined, political trends seem to have not changed. Class and caste should not be the primary factors of political games. If so, the atmosphere gets vitiated. Social change is possible with a joint commitment for structures of political, social and economic empowerment. Political parties alone cannot be the harbingers of such change. Political culture has to change, which means either current crop of politicians have to reform themselves, or a new crop of political enthusiasts have to replace them. KCR with his current status in Telangana political geography can set such an example. His political acumen and strategies need to be channelized into creating a broader, acceptable and ‘native’ form of political culture.

Support from civil society and media in such efforts would be helpful, as well.

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