Shashi Tharoor while speaking at a meeting organized by Indian Council of Foreign Affairs, endorsed the views of Lord Bhiku Parekh on Nehru’s Foreign. Lord Parekh described it as being based on moral self righteousness, and Tharoor added on to say that it was a moral running commentary. One will surely support any objective criticism of the policies of India’s founding father and founding architect. That should be a exercise in learning as to what went wrong and how we should desist from such policies in future. Fair enough. We can not treat any body to be above criticism. Tharoor faced with the reaction form his party, quickly sought an apology to save his skin, as Congress does have a fare bit of blind veneration of Gandhi and Nehru. One will not criticize Tharoor for criticizing Nehru for that matter.
At the same time one also has to see what is the worth of this criticism, does it hold some water or is it just to run down the morals and objectivities which were the base not only of freedom movement but also the initial foundation of India’s foreign policy. While Tharoor’s statement was criticized merely from the angle of veneration to Nehru-Gandhi, the deeper issues remained unaddressed. And what needs to be taken note of is that
Parekh-Tharoor line is projecting values totally opposed to the interests of the emerging Indian nation, as it came in a particular historical context of the decade of 1940s. One has serious doubts about the understanding of these worthies about the situation and problems which Gandhi-Nehru faced to ensure that India not only becomes free from the shackles of imperialists but also
that it creates better atmosphere for Indians in particular and newly liberating countries from Asia in general. BJP, lost no time in upholding Parekh-Tharoor line and went on to add that Nehru floundered on the issue of Kashmir, his non- alignment created many problems and in the matters of his policy towards China he failed.
Tharoor’s statement that it was a moralistic running commentary gives an impression that morals should have no place in the political World! And that morality is against the self interest of the nation! On the contrary one can say that it is moral values alone which have been the foundations of anti Imperialist struggles all over. It has been the efforts of people to get their moral rights, rights as human beings, rights as nations which ensured the liberation of the vast mass of humanity form thee exploitative-oppressive yoke of colonialism-imperialism. Britain and other
colonial powers and their continuation in the hegemositic policies of United States have been the major oppressive force in the World so far. When Vietnamese people were fighting the insane bombings by United States it was the morality of Vietnamese people which gave them strength to overcome the brutal aggression and come out victorious. It was the morals of Indian
masses which gave them all the strength to overcome the yoke of colonialism.
As far as Gandhi is concerned, he was hardly there, when the foreign policy took concrete shape. The one major contribution he made was statement about the rights of Palestinians who were displaced by the Israel. He could see beyond the obvious to say that the policy of Israel is ‘Jewish terrorism’,which is the real problem. The armed Zionists who were intimidating the
Palestinian villagers were a matter of concern for him. He also went to say that it is wrong to impose Jews on Palestine. This was his contribution in laying India’s policy vis a vis Israel and Palestine! It is highest morality and astuteness to take the sides of victims of injustice. India did stick to the policy of shunning Israel overtures, till last few years when shaking hands with her began and was made more respectable by BJP led NDA in
particular, which not only praised the Israel in more ways than one but was also willing to collaborate with Israel on many counts.
As far as Kashmir is concerned there is a misconception that India
surrendered 1/3rd of Kashmir to Pakistan due to Nehru’s faulty approach.This betrays a total ignorance and misrepresents the past. One recalls that at the time of Independence, Kashmir refused to merge with either India or Paksitan. It is the Independent Kashmir which was attacked by Pathan,
Kabayali, Tribal supported by Pakistani army. So the question of India loosing one third of territory does not hold any water. When the accession treaty was signed India sent its army to dispel the Pakistani invaders, but by that time they had already occupied 1/3 of Kashmir. Now continuation of war would have meant a lot of civilian casualties. UN at that time was an arbiter of sorts, which was to be approached for mediation. It is another matter that since US had its designs to keep its presence in the region,
directly and by proxy, it kept backing Pakistan all through. Thanks to Soviet veto that the status quo was maintained.
It is another matter that the proposal of UN to hold a plebiscite in
Kashmir, to ascertain the choice of Kashmiri people in an honest way could never take place. Later the global politics, as divided between the US dominated imperialist block and Soviet led Socialist block came to be supplemented by the Non Aligned group of Nations. It is Russian veto, which saved Kashmir from coming into the total control of Pakistan. Pressure of non-aligned block had its own value. The unstinted support to Pakistan by
United States has been due to US strategic interests, and to think that a war in Kashmir would have solved the problem is far from correct.
As far as Non Alignment is concerned, it can be regarded as the best contribution to the global politics. From amongst the nations enslaved by Colonial powers, India was amongst the firsts and was also a big Nation so it was natural that it devices a self interest, autonomy in foreign policy, which can also show the light to all the countries. In a way non alignment was the external manifestation of internal sovereignty. That was the phase
of global politics where the easy option for countries was to ally with US-UK axis. As history shows us most of the countries which aligned in such a way turned into banana republics or had the fate of countries like Pakistan. They were used by imperialist powers for their strategic and economic interests. No internal development, no progress of democratic institutions! In practically all countries which got freedom, and allied with US, the progress came to a halt. The trajectory of Pakistan says it all. You ally to US, be its military base, buy readymade goods and material,
the basic development remains unattended.
Nehru did have the vision that only a self reliant economic infrastructure can be the guarantee for the progress of the nation. And here the external policy was an adjunct for internal goals. It is in this direction that he decided not to remain subservient to either of the blocks, while seeking their help in the development of industrial infrastructure of the country.
Foreign policy is deeply linked to economic policies. Nehru’s policy in the area of education and industrialization can be faulted for various reasons, but what is above reproach about his policy is about remaining non-aligned, due to which, the nation gets the technical and other help from who so ever
gives you can tie up with for the particular issue.. So while Soviet block came forward to lay the industrial infrastructure, US help was taken for Green revolution. The nation has to thank Nehru for ensuring that, today it is a Industrial power to reckon with, it is power with its own scientific manpower, it is precisely due to this that it was not lagging behind in IT revolution, as the infrastructure for this was already their.
Surely Nehru should be faulted for his failure to ensure the implementation of land reforms, and for not undertaking more policies which would have resulted in equitable distribution of wealth and resources. One cannot support the shelving of land reforms at any cost as it is the base for democratic programs. One cannot support the policy leading to enrichment of a handful in the name of development. Neither can one support the policies
which led to the marginalization of workers, dalits and Adivasis in the whole process of development. So criticism is OK but from which angle the criticism is done is more important.
With the collapse of Soviet states the World not only lost an important pole of opposition to the US hegemony, it also led to a global scenario where being subservient to US is regarded as the only way to survive, the Non Aligned movement has been marginalized. Surely it has been one of the major policy which came to aid India’s development, it also ensured that not only
that India remains insulated from being intimidated but it also gave strength to the other developing nations to chart the course of self reliance and dignity.
As far Nehru’s China policy is concerned the critics feel that since
Indo-China war took place in 1962 and India had to bite the dust, it was Nehru’s policy which is to blame for this debacle. Since China was an isolated country, since there were many other unresolved issues on India-China border, China did took us by surprise and a short and decisive blow was inflicted on India. Nehru had entered Panch Sheel (Five Principles
of Dignity) which included mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty, non interference, and territorial integrity amongst others. This was also the principal which later on was used by US and Chine to sew up their relations. As such Panch Sheel should be the basis of relations between any two neighbors. While one swallow does not make the summer, one setback does not
taint the whole policy. The relations with the mighty neighbor have to be based on Peace, and that’s the only guarantee for the mutual development of the nations. After the painful episode of 1962, China and India have been both ‘progressing’ materially and the ground for peaceful relations is very much there.
While Tharoor’s press conference seems to have exonerated him from the axe of the blind venerators of Gandhi-Nehru, the deeper issues raised by Parekh-Tharoor and also BJP line on these issues is what needs to be debated and proper perspective of Gandhi-Nehru ‘moral running commentary’ needs to
be understood in the light of the holistic needs of the nation at that point of time.
One of the longest and most controversial legal battles in Karnataka — the Hubli Idgah Maidan case which led to several communal clashes — has come to an end . Not only did this battle for the land witness a lot of bloodshed, but it also claimed the head of Uma Bharti, the former firebrand leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party who was also the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, ruled that the Idgah Maidan in Hubli was the sole property of the Hubli-Dharward Muncipal Corporation and no other organisation had any right over this property. The entire battle for this land began in 1921 with the Hubli Muncipal Corporation signed an agreement with the Anjuman-e-Islam to use the 1.5-acre piece of land for prayers.
In 1990 the Anjuman-e-Islam constructed a commercial complex on the land following which a petition was filed opposing this. Two years later the demolition of the building was ordered. The Anjuman appealed to the Karnataka high court which in turn upheld the order of the lower court. This was followed by an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The real controversy began when a couple of other organisations sought to hoist the national flag on the disputed land claiming that everyone had a right over it. Some people forced their way through the ground which resulted in police firing in which six persons were killed. Uma Bharti too entered the scene and a non-bailable warrant was issued against her while she was the Madhya Pradesh CM. She came down to Hubli to appear before the court after resigning as CM and when she returned, she never became CM again.
The lawyer defending Uma Bharti and also opposing the Anjuman, Dore Raju speaks to rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa about the implications of the judgment.Raju says that it was after this issue that the problems in the BJP started and also adds that the national leadership of the party used this case as an opportunity to oust Bharti as they were unable to deal with her.
What are your reactions to the judgment of the Supreme Court?
It is a welcome judgment. Our stand has been vindicated.
Can you take us through the case?
It was not right on the part of the Anjuman to set up a complex on a public ground in the first place. Some citizens wanted to hoist the national flag but there was opposition. This had led to violence and several people lost their lives.The Anjuman had claimed a right over the land and had on various ocassions lost their battle in the courts. However today the Supreme Court has ruled against the Anjuman.
What are the immediate repercussions of the judgment?
The Hubli-Dharwad Muncipal Corporation will have to evict the Anjuman from the land.
How did Uma Bharti come into the picture?
She was one among the several people who were opposing the misuse of the land. She too was of the belief that a national flag ought to be hoisted on a public ground. She was stopped on several ocassions. However on one occasion, she had tonsured her head and come in disguise and hoisted the flag. Violence had broken out then and several people were killed in police firing. A committee headed by a retired high court judge was formed and a report submitted. Till date no government has even placed that report in the assembly.
What does the report state?
I would not like to go into its details and it is better you ask the judge, Rajashekara Murthy that. All I would like to say that there are indications that the police violated the norms.
Uma Bharti was chief minister of MP at the peak of this controversy. Why was she asked to step down?
The local court had issued a proclaimation against her. A non-bailable warrant too had been issued. Bharti felt that it would not be right for her to continue as a chief minister, with warrants outstanding against her. She decided that she would step down and return to the post of CM only after facing the court in Hubli. However the national leadership of the BJP used this as opportunity to shunt her out. There was conspiracy to remove her from the party as they felt that she was arrogant. They used these cases against her to permanently shunt her out of the post of CM. Party chief at that time, L K Advani had called me to New Delhi and told me that we needed to protect her. The party used this as a golden opportunity to very diplomatically remove her from the CM’s post.
Do you think this judgment will create more controversy?
Why should it? No one wants to be hauled up for contempt of a SC judgment. The BJP government in Karnataka will take it to its logical end and it will be done legally.
Do you see this issue as a religious one?
It is not a religious issue at all. Although it is sensitive, I believe that no one can claim a right over public land. If someone wants to hoist a flag there should be no opposition to it. This land is located in the heart of Hubli. I don’t think any community should be allowed to offer prayers on this land. It is for public use and not religious purpose. Rallies and protest meetings can be held with the permission of the corporation. Now with this judgment all constructions made by the Anjuman should be demolished
Only a constitutional and political crisis can ensure the formation of Telangana, K Chandrasekar Rao, the Chief of the Telangana Rasthriya Samiti said in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
His were the opening remarks at the Telangana Joint Action Committee meeting that was held on Tuesday to decide on the next course of action to be taken towards the formation of a separate state.
All hell broke lose when the Congress MLAs said they were willing to tender their resignations but were unable to do so at the time that was specified at the JAC meeting.
This remark angered the rest of the leaders who told them point blank that they could do without them and it was not correct on their part to seek time when it was the need of the hour to stand united on the issue.
Some of the Congress leaders who were upset with the remarks staged a walk out, but were pacified by JAC chairperson Professor Kodand Ram. He convinced them to return to the meeting and he is now holding talks with the leaders in order to come to a consensus.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Telugu Desam Party, TRS, Bharatiya Janata Party and also the Praja Rajyam Party, hailing from the Telangana region, agreed to submit their resignations on January 18.
KCR said he is tired of speaking to the Union government about this issue. “The response from New Delhi has not been good. We have no option but to create a constitutional and political crisis in the state so that our demands are met. We will go the Speaker on January 18, hand over our resignations and also convince him to admit it so that there is a crisis and our voices are heard.”
“The issue pertaining to Telangana is a simple one, but the Andhra lobby, which is very strong is complicating matters. The time is to stand united and not fight this battle on the basis of the political parties we belong to. It is time to keep all our flags aside and fight this issue holding the Telangana flag high,” he said.
We have reached a conclusion that creating a political crisis in the state is the only way to force the hands of central government to from Telangana state”, said Prof Kodanda Ram, convenor of the JAC.
Though almost all the Telangana MLAs of Congress, TDP, TRS, PRP and BJP have already announced their resignations, they were yet to be accepted by the Speaker N Kiran Kumar Reddy.
The JAC discussed the issue of when and how to force the Speakers to accept their resignations. There were differences among the leaders of different parties on the date of meeting Speaker on the issue. TRS president K C Rao announced that his party leaders will meet the Speaker on January 18 while TDP wants to do it a day later as January 18 was the death anniversary of party founder N T Rama Rao. Congress legislators were demanding more time as they were under tremendous pressure from the party high command to withdraw their resignations.
Senior Congress leaders former ministers K Jana Reddy and R Damodar Reddy reiterated that there was no question of Congress legislators going back on their resignation and they will abide by the decision of the JAC and were ready to make any sacrifices.
However Jana Reddy underlined the need for moving cautiously as a hasty decision can be counter productive as it may lead to imposition of president’s rule in the state.
“If we make hasty decisions, it may lead to the imposition of President’s Rule and the police force will be used against agitators. Then I will not be able to do any thing nor you will be able to come to me and say some thing”, Jana Reddy said.
The meeting witnessed noisy and chaotic scenes for half an hour when Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti president Manda Krishna Madiga made some provocative remarks against Congress and Telugu Desam parties and their leaders Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] and N Chandrababu Naidu [ Images ]. When he alleged that the Congress was trying to put the issue of Telangana in cold storage, and the TDP leader was also trying the same thing, angry leaders of Congress and TDP stood up in anger and threatened to stage a walk out from the meeting hall.
There was a complete pandemonium both on the dais and in the hall with protestors of MRPS and workers of political parties shouting slogans against each other.
Madiga announced that if the central government does not start the process of formation of Telangana by January 18, his organisation will start protests in every village of the region.
Swami Goud, president Telangana Non Gazetted Officers Union said that there was no need for all the parties to agree before pressing the acceptance of their resignations. “Even if TDP, TRS, PRP and BJP legislators force the Speaker to accept their resignations, it will force the Congress to follow suit”, he said.
“The movement MLAS’ resignations are accepted, all the government employees of Telangana region will also start pen down strike and continue their protest till Telangana state is formed”, he said.
Hamid Mohammed Khan of Jamat-e-Islami Hind said that all the Muslims of Telangana region were in favour of a separate Telangana to put an end to the injustice and exploitation faced by the region of Telangana for the last 52 years.
However the strategy of JAC to create a political crisis through resignations suffered a setback as the last remaining two ministers from Telangana – K Venkat Reddy and D Sridhar Babu withdrew their resignations from the cabinet.
The two had so far steadfastly refused to withdraw their resignations till the process for the formation of Telangana state begins while the other 11 Telangana ministers had taken back their resignations.
The two ministers gave in after the party high command sent them a direction to withdraw the resignations to help restore normalcy in the state. The Pradesh Congress committee president D Srinivas also persuaded them to withdraw the resignation.
Sridhar Babu, minister for higher education told the media that they decided to withdraw the resignation as they were confident that the Centre will start the process of formation of Telangana state.
“We will continue our fight from Telangana from with in the government”, he said.
The present dimensions of Andhra Pradesh politics is likely to change with over 1000 people’s representatives deciding to submit their mass resignations on Tuesday after a crucial meeting of the Telangana Joint Action Committee in Hyderabad at 2 pm.
A member of the Joint Action Committee told rediff.com that the agenda of the meeting for Tuesday has been fixed.
“We feel that the Union government is trying to ensure that the movement goes into the ice box and there is no way that we will let that happen. In a bid to step up pressure, all representatives belonging to the Telangana region will submit their resignations tomorrow itself,” the member said.
We are unhappy with the assurances of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and there is no way in which we want to wait any longer. We have built this movement with such difficulty and at the last moment, we don’t want the Union government sending it to the cold storage. Increasingly we get the feeling that they are buying time to kill the movement,” he added.
Chairperson of the Telangana JAC Prof Kodand Ram says, Abhi hum Dilli nahin jayenge, delhi ko yahan aana hoga. (Now we won’t go to New Delhi, New Delhi will have to come here)
The repercussions of such a mass resignation movement will be disastrous for Andhra Pradesh. There are over a 1000 representatives belonging to the Telangana movement and each one appears to be united in its stand. The JAC will not have any trouble in convincing all these members to tender their resignations.
The Telangana region in all has 119 Members of Legislative Assembly, of which 54 belong to the Congress. If these leaders resign, the strength of the party on the floor of the house will drop, which means the government will roll.
Apart from this, there are 17 Lok Sabha members and 10 Rajya Sabha members from the Telangana region. In the mandal level, there are around 480 representatives from this region apart from 10 chairmen of the Zilla Parishads.
In the category of Members of Legislative Council, there are 12 of them from the local bodies, 3 graduates and 3 teacher candidate MLCs.
Apart from this, the Andhra government has something more to worry about in case mass resignations are undertaken. The budget session is slated for February and if these representatives resign, then it will be next to impossible to go ahead with the budget session.
The JAC meeting is not expected to settle for anything less. They say, from the mandal to the Parliament level, there will be resignations galore. A bill has to be tabled in Parliament, and the Congress alone can get it passed, since it has a majority.
Karnataka, which has been witnessing dirty politics for a considerable amount of time now, has stooped to a new low with the former prime minister H D Deve Gowda using un-parliamentary language against chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and also the state advocate general.
Gowda’s statements have created quite a furore in the state, with most leaders demanding a public apology from the former prime minister.
However, both the chief minister and the advocate general have decided to stay away from the controversy and say that let the people decide on the issue.
The overall issue deals with the controversial Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Project which is coming up on the Bangalore-Mysore Road. Gowda has accused the chief minister of favouring the implementers of the project and is also conducting several road shows claiming to show solidarity to farmers, who he feels have been given a raw deal.
Advocate General of Karnataka Ashok Harnahalli told rediff.com that matter has been cleared by both the Supreme Court and the high court which has given the green signal to the project.
Now if a former prime minister (Gowda) stands on the road and says that he is not bound by the order of the Supreme Court, it says a lot about him.
Asked about the legal recourse that the government intends to take on the abuses by the former prime minister, he said that law is not the course we have to take now.
“This is something that needs to be debated and under no circumstance should unparliamentary language be used. I am surprised that Gowda has reacted this way. Let the people take a decision on the matter. All I can say that on this issue pertaining to the project, the framework agreement was signed in 1997 and it was challenged before both the high court and the Supreme Court.
Both the courts had upheld the matter and had also come down heavily on the one’s who challenged the agreement. If any of the farmers whose lands have been acquired feel that they have been given a raw deal where compensation is concerned, the law is always available. Let them go to the civil court and seek enhancement of compensation. Why fight this matter on the streets,” he said.
On whether the government has decided to file a defamation suit against Gowda, the AG said that this option had not been considered as yet.
Yeddyyurappa said, “I will not stoop to the gutter. It only shows his culture. The man seems to have lost his mental balance and it is his frustration which is making him talk like this. I am sorry, but I shall not stoop to this level.”
The process involving the formation of a separate Telangana state will rest largely with the general public rather than the political leaders, Telangana Rashtra Samiti general secretary Subhash Reddy said on Thursday.
A committee comprising both the Home Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary will be formed in the next couple of days and they would receive representations from the people and not the political leaders, he told rediff.com.
As per the discussion with the Home Minister it was decided that the committee would start receiving applications and representations from various people before handing over a report.
During the meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram, TRS Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao made it clear that the general opinion of the public was that their views were not being taken into account.
“Why should only the political leaders have a say in the matter? The general public too should be given a chance to submit their opinion on the matter,” he said.
Further, the TRS chief also told the Home Minister that a time frame to form the state ought to be set, but the maximum the people are willing to wait is months and not years.
Once the committee is set up, the Home and Cabinet secretary would receive applications, opinions and representations from leaders of the various Joint Action Committees, Teachers’ Unions, Students’ Unions and prominent members of the general public.
These associations or unions will have to collectively seek the opinion of the general public and present it before the committee.
Once this process is complete, the report would be submitted to the Union government.
Based on the representations and depending on the majority voice, the government would take necessary action. If the majority is in favour of Telangana, then a Bill would have to be placed in the assembly, debated by the MLAs and then passed. However, it is likely that there would not be any opposition to the Bill if the majority voice seeks for a separate state.
Home Minister P Chidambaram has assured Telangana Rastriya Samiti chief K Chandrashekhar Rao that all steps will be taken to create a separate state, but sought some time to act on the issue.
During the meeting, the violent agitations going on in Andhra Pradesh in support of the Telangana movement were discussed, and the home minister told Rao that a new state cannot be carved out in the backdrop of such violence.
TRS leaders believe that the meeting with the home minister was in the right direction. “In our view, the process (for the creation of Telangana) has already commenced and the home minister has assured our leader that our demands will be taken into consideration,” said a party leader.
The TRS will now urge the Centre to set a time-frame to resolve the issue. Chidambaram has suggested setting up a committee, headed by a senior bureaucrat, to consider the various view points on the creation of Telangana.
But according to the TRS, setting up such a committee is an unnecessary exercise, and the state should be formed based on the collective demand of the people of Telangana.
A crucial meeting of the Home Minister along with leaders of Andhra Pradesh is slated for today on the Telangana issue. The meeting gains significance in the wake of the vast division that there is in Andhra Pradesh over this issue. However from what can be heard and witnessed it does not appear as though both parties are going to buckle down and will stick to their respective demands.
The Telangana Joint Action Committee will have a crucial role to play from now onwards. It will have to ensure several things- one is to keep the entire tribe united and also ensure come what may, their supporters don’t resort to violence and get branded as mischief mongers in the state.
The Chairman of the Joint Action Committee, Prof. Kodanda Ram is very clear about their stand and says that there is no compromise formula that is available at this point of time. In this interview with rediff.com, he also puts to rest the fears of the people of Andhra and Rayalseema who think they will lose their homes once Telangana is formed.
What was the purpose behind setting up the Telangana Joint Action Committee?
The people of Telangana have been demanding united activity all along. The formation of the Joint Action Committee has only ensured that their dreams have come true and leaders of various political parties have come under one umbrella. People wanted a show of unity and the JAC was set up in order to show that to the people.
Despite the setting up of the Joint Action Committee there does not seem to be any reselution to the problem. Various political parties continue to oppose the demand for a separate state. Could you comment on this please?
The Joint Action Committee does not mean a merger. Each political party has its own identity and will continue to have that. What we at the JAC want to ensure is that all political parties come under one roof or umbrella and resolve the entire issue without getting into any kind of conflict. It is a long process, but we are hopeful it would happen.
What does the JAC plan to do in future?
The Joint Action Committee has a three pronged strategy. First and foremost we have no intention of working at cross purposes. Secondly we want to create an awareness and have a common minimum understanding on basic issues. Finally the JAC also wants to ensure that there is a common minimum programme of action on this issue
What is the opinion of the JAC on the various political parties which are opposing the formation of Telangana?
Only the Telangana Rastriya Samithi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have a clear stand on this issue and that is they are in favour of the formation of Telangana. The Praja Rajyam Party is divided into two on this issue. The main problem that we face is from the Telegu Desam Party and the Congress. These parties are heavily divided and this is what is causing the delay.
There is an important meeting with the Home Minister today. How do you think the equation of the issue would change after this meeting?
The meeting is a make or break one. One thing I can say for sure is that the division within the TDP, Congress and PRP will become sharper after this meeting. These parties have two options before them. Either they will have to convince their leaders to tow the line or they will need to break away permanently. The days to come will eventually result in the polarization of all political forces.
Is there a slight possibility of a compromise on this issue?
I am afraid there is no question of a compromise. This movement has come way too far and there is no question of going back. However what could be done is that all leaders sit across the table and have a peaceful discussion on this issue and form the state.
Hyderabad is the bone of contention here. What is your view about the same?
Hyderabad will always be with Telangana and the rest of the citizens will enjoy equal status.
There is an issue pertaining to the investors who appear to be scared of investing in Hyderabad if Telangana is formed. What are your thoughts about this?
Telangana will require a lot of investors and industries. There is absolutely no need for the investor to be scared. In no way is the fight of the people of Telangana with the investor. The reason why the investor has his apprehensions is because there are some vested interests who are coming in the way and floating a propaganda. The people of Telangana will always support the investor as long as they don’t come in the way of political demands. We will ensure that the investor will remain in Hyderabad and will take all steps necessary to safeguard their interests.
Will the Mulki rule of the Nizam return once Telangana is formed? ( The Mulki rule mandates that any outsider will have to live 14 years in the state to be eligible for equal rights)
Not possible at all. The Constitution has incorporated all these people and things cannot be contrary to the Indian constitution. At this point of time there is no tension among the people of Andhra and Rayalseema. The tension is being created by some of the leaders. We are in no way opposed to the outsiders. However in federalism we need to ensure that the development of the local people. I would like to point out here that Hyderabad is a cosmopolitan city and under no circumstances can it lose this status. Whatever change may occur, Hyderabad can and should not never lose its cosmopolitan nature since it needs that to sustain itself. If at any point there is an attempt to change that nature, then it will prove disastrous for Hyderabad and there will be terrible tension. All people living in Telangana will and have to be protected at any cost. This is what we will strive for and ensure it happens.
Contrary to belief, the Muslim community has come out in support of the movement for the formation of a separate Telangana state. Muslims in the Telangana region feel that all these years they have been treated as outsiders in their own place and believe that once the state is formed, a lot of their problems will be solved.
The community claim that as they are the main sufferers in a united state, the time has come to speak up and be heard collectively. Leading the movement in Hyderabad is Lateef Mohammad Khan, chief of the Muslim Forum For Telangana, who says that they are fed up of being branded as ISI agents and rowdy-sheeters.
In an interview to rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Khan speaks extensively about the role Muslims want to play and how their lives would change once Telangana is formed.
We thought Muslims were opposed to the formation of Telangana. What happened? Why has that stand changed?
We have not changed our stand. Our stand was always for a separate Telangana. It was just a propaganda being floated by late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy that the Muslims were opposing Telangana’s formation.
The MIM says they are in favour of the formation of a separate state. However, the Muslims in Hyderabad, at least, have some doubts about them. We have been told by reliable sources that we should not trust the MIM, as they are sitting on the lap of the Congress party which is against the formation of a separate state.
However, the MIM cannot continue this way for long since the movement has gone into the hands of the people and eventually they will have to come around and support our cause.
There is a lot being spoken about the Nizam’s rule. Some say that post-Telangana, the state would prosper as it did under the Nizam. What is the take of Muslims on this issue?
We agree that the Nizam’s rule was feudal in nature. But, the Nizam protected the welfare of the people. He had imposed the ‘Mulki’ rule, under which in matters of education and employment preference would be given to the people of Telangana.
There was another interesting rule, which was in force under the Nizam. People who migrated to and spent 14 years in Hyderabad were given equal rights. After the 1948 police action, Andhra people started migrating to Hyderabad.
The people of Andhra were recruited in military and civil sectors and we, the people of Telangana, were told that we do not know English and Telugu. Some 28,000 Andhraites came here during 1968 and during 1986, 59,000 Andhra and Rayalseema region people illegally occupied jobs.
During the Nizam rule, ‘Mulki’ rules were formed to protect the local people. All the agreements were violated the day after the formation of a United Andhra.
At present, some 3,85,000 Andhra and Rayalseema people are occupying jobs in Telangana region. All these jobs are of Telangana, in which our share is included. Coastal Andhra people overlook the historical Charminar, saying that it will not provide any food, and hi-tech city would provide employment to lakhs of people and benefit of crores of rupees would be gained. We are nowhere today.
We question them to point out a single Muslim in the hi-tech city. Hence, we feel that the ‘Mulki’ rule of the Nizam will be in place once Telangana is formed.
Is that not asking for too much? This is India, after all.
Why didn’t anyone think in the past that we too are Indians? We have been deprived of our legitimate rights and I think that some focus exclusively needs to be given to us so that we are able to rise and prove ourselves.
You say the Nizam’s rule was feudal. How would you compare the rule of the Nizam to the present-day Congress rule?
The Nizam had undertaken a lot of developmental works for the people of Telangana. Whatever he did was for the good of the people. However, the Congress has made the people think that we are lazy and speak a funny language. That is all we have gained. To cut a long story short, the Hindus in Telangana are called jokers and the Muslims terrorists.
How would the lives of Muslims change once Telangana is formed?
Once Telangana is formed, the Muslims will have a big part to play. We form 20 per cent of the population of Telangana. We will get more political representation and a Muslim could become a chief minister or at least a deputy chief minister. Till date, there has not been a single Muslim chief minister in Andhra Pradesh.
What about the real estate mafia? How has that changed the equation in today’s fight for a separate state?
When ‘Hyderabad’ was a State, we were rich in wealth. The State had a lot of lakes and agriculture fields. Leafy vegetables were produced in the fields around Hyderabad. The leaders from Rayalseema and Andhra destroyed several acres of lands belonging to the wakf board.
They also destroyed the lakes and ponds and used it to develop real estate. The people of Coastal Andhra became billionaires and Hyderabadi Muslims were forced to come on the roads.
Telangana lost greatly in the past 50 years. Water was never supplied properly for irrigation and all our resources were always diverted. We are living under the worst conditions.
Muslims have been committing suicide unable to pay loans and innocent girls are being married off to Arab Sheikhs for meagre sums. If at all change has to occur in our lives, we should have an equal share in employment and education and representation in politics — for which a separate Telangana state is the only solution.
The time has come to break our silence and as Hazrat Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed) had said, “There is no meaning for silence when there is a need to speak for justice.”
Jawaharlal Neheru while announcing the formation of a united Andhra Pradesh had said on the Telangana issue, “an innocent girl called Telangana is being married to a naughty boy called Andhra. It is of their choice to continue or to get separated.
Today the people of Telangana say that the time has come and the innocent girl can no longer stay married to the naughty boy. Several protagonists of the movement say that it is high time the state is given back to them.
Dr Srinivas Raj, one of the protagonists of the Telangana movement has prepared a ready reckoner on the issue. He along with several others have been distributing this booklet among the people of Telangana and convincing the people as to why this movement is important and how their lives would change once their state is given back to them.
In this interview with rediff.com, Dr Raj gives very interesting about the movement. He also goes into length about the backroom politics that is being played in trying to curb this movement.
Would you like to give us a brief introduction to the entire movement called Telangana?
We talk of Jalianwala Bagh with such great interest. No one wants to even think of the massacre that had taken place in Telangana at the time the Nizam was ruling us. The Hyderabad state was under the Nizam and Urdu was the official language at that time. Right from that period of time, the people of Telangana were being suppressed. The Nizam’s army butchered the people of Telangana who sought for their rights and there were at least 6 Jalianwala Bhaghs at that point of time. The problem is that we continue to get suppressed even today and that is why we feel that a separate state is required.
You had a separate state, then what happened?
Between 1948 and 1956 Telangana was a separate state. Hyderabad had several industries including two airports. There was a lot of concentration on the Telangana region and this area has a lot of infrastructure. The Time Magazine had in 1937 featured V Usman Ali Khan as the wealthiest man in the world. This only speaks of the wealth that there was in this region. Once Andhra and Rayalseema came out of the Madras presidency, the people of those regions thought that it would be best to merge Telangana with their regions. Our Assembly building, the High court building were all from the Nizam’s period. Moreover in 1909 M Visveswaraya, the father of engineering had constructed an underground drainage system in Hyderabad which is being used till date. 69 per cent of the Krishna catchment area is in Telangana region. The revenues that were being generated out of the Telangana region were good too when compared to Andhra and Rayalseema. The very fact that Dr B R Ambedkar had said that Hyderabad should be made the second capital of India speaks volumes about the region. Moreover Hyderabad is a connecting point between North and South India. They wanted ready made infrastructure which was in abundance in Telangana and hence they managed to pressurize the government of India to consider their decision.
Were there promises broken when the Union Government merged Telangana?
Yes the very first promise that was broken was regarding the name of the state. The union government had promised us that the state would be known as the Andhra Telangana state. However overnight the leaders from the Andhra and Rayalseema regions managed to convince the union government to change the name to Andhra Pradesh. This was the first of the promises to be broken. After that the leaders of the two other regions worked consistently to make Telangana a backward region. Another instance of a broken promise is the fact that the Shriram Sagar water project in Nizamabad is lying in the cold storage since the past 40 years.
What is the main justification for seeking a separate state? Do you really think that things would improve?
It is absolutely important that we be given a separate state. Our accent and our culture is different. Our style is very Deccan and we use a lot of Urdu when we speak. We have a mixture of Northern and Southern style. We even celebrate Holi. We have every reason to demand for a state. To be honest, if Telangana is carved out it would be bigger than 100 countries in the world and larger than 18 different states in the country. Once Telangana is carved out it will be 1,14,800 square kilometers.
What we fail to understand is that how did the Government manage to bypass all of you and merge Telangana?
We concentrated more on development and not politics. The simple fact is that we did not have access to the central leadership like the way the leaders of Andhra and Rayalseema had.
How do the people of Telangana region look at the people of the rest of Andhra Pradesh?
The question should be the other way around. Since day one, we have been treated like second rated citizens. Depriving us of development is one issue, but the fact that everyone makes fun of us is also an important point over here. Take the film industry for instance. There are no cinema heroes from our region. Moreover what hurts the most is that the language spoken by the people of Telangana is always attributed to a joker or a villain in the movie.
There has been terrible violence due to this issue. Would you want to justify that?
The violence is not half of what the media has been projecting. I have statistics to support my view. In the Telangana region, the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation faced a loss of Rs 7 crore due to the protests. This was mainly because the services were shut down and also due to incidents of stone pelting. Whereas in Andhra and Rayalseema the losses were to the tune of Rs 70 crore and this was largely because buses were being burnt. The BSNL too had said that at the Shrikrishna Devaraya university at Rayalseema, students had burnt its optic fibres which resulted in a loss of Rs 2 crore. There was also an incident in which supporters of J C Divaker Reddy in Rayalseema had bombed a railway station.causing a loss of Rs 10 crore. Now it is clear that the people of Telangana have not been protesting in these regions. I can say with gurantee that we have only protested in a democratic manner. All these statistics have never been reported by the media since 95 per cent of the media is being controlled by barons from the Andhra and Rayalseema belts. The media too has been asked to project only incidents taking place in the Rayalseema region. Please understand this is a demand by us for the past 50 years, it is not something that has happened overnight.
What is your view on the flip flop by political parties in Andhra Pradesh?
Both the Telegu Desam Party and the Praja Rajyam Party had said that they would support the bill if it is introduced. Till the 2009 elections, the TDP was against Telangana, but at the time of the polls they joined hands with the TRS since it felt that the demand was very strong. Today due to pressure from the other regions, they are back tracking. There was also this issue when many legislators raised a point saying that the union government had acted in haste by announcing the formation of a separate state during midnight. I would like to ask them whether they had a problem when India got independence at mid night.
This issue has scared off investors. Aren’t you worried that prices will drop and the economy will suffer.
The people of Andhra and Rayalseema have purchased lands from the poor people of Telangana at throw away prices. Over the years they have inflated the prices by 100 times. These persons are worried. There is also the middle class which has invested in land in the Telangana region. I would say for a fact that the prices would drop by half once Telangana is formed. However this is temporary. Once the state is formed and the Telangana government invites investors, the real estate would be back to normal.
Finally, there is a murmur that Jagan Reddy could be behind all this in a bid to overthrow Rosaiah. What is your take on this?
(Laughs), He is very much behind the scene or at least was behind it. He did try and overthrow Rosaiah by escalating the tension. However things went out of control when the movement went into the hands of the Telangana people. He is now in soup since there is pressure from the people of his belt. He is now trying to paint a different picture to come out of the soup.