With absolutely no assurance from the Union Government all the Telangana leaders from the Congress are headed back to Hyderabad. Visibly upset they said that they did not expect this from the centre and they would continue fighting until the main goal is achieved.
Ram Reddy Damodar Reddy, one of the MLAs from the Congress who also resigned informed that the issue does not end here. We have waited a long time and we expected some result from the Union Government. Suggestions were made but we got no assurance from them. There is no question of withdrawing our resignations. Our protest against the union government will continue. We will not settle for anything less than a Bill regarding Telangana in Parliament, he also said.
The only thing in all our minds is a formation of Telangana. We do not care if the government falls or President’s rule is imposed. All that does not matter any longer to us.
While the MPs from the Congress have come back to Hyderabad, the MLAs and the ministers are scheduled to reach by 3.30 PM today. They will take part in the ongoing protest and meetings are already on to chalk out the next course of action. In addition to this they would pressurize the speaker who is set to return on July 12 to accept their resignations and not delay the process any further.
Meanwhile Home Minister P Chidambaram said in New Delhi that they had no plan of imposing President’s rule in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress is upset about the resignations and we hope to engage in talks and discussions with these leaders. It is a delicate situation and we hope law and order is maintained he said.
Meanwhile the bundh which entered into the second day continued to bring to a halt the entire city of Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana. All schools remained closed and entrance examinations in Osmania University where the students are protesting have also been postponed.
At New Delhi, the representatives of the government continued to hold meetings trying to chalk out ways to tide over this crisis. At the moment it appears that they would have no option but to introduce a bill in Parliament since all the MLAs seem to be admant.
Will the revelation that Rs 90,000 crore lies at the Sri Padnamanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala given birth to more Ghaznis and Ghoris? History would show at that point of time these emperors looted temples since they were cash rich.
Now it has been pointed out by a couple of experts that making public such large amounts of wealth stashed away in temples would only attract terrorists. While this is one view, the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing says that terrorists would attack temples not with an intention of taking away its wealth but only to create a social divide.
Among all the targets that are in place in India, intelligence agencies still rate places of religious worship high on the list. There have been many instances in the past to show that temples are terror targets and the Akshardham and Varanasi attacks are only proof of that. In addition to this the revealations by David Headley also reveal that he had surveyed a couple of temples which the Lashkar-e-Tayiba wanted to attack.
The question now is whether terrorists would attack places of religious worship for the money stashed in there or would it be to create a divide in society. C D Sahay, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing says, “ I don’t think money would be criteria for terrorists in such cases. Temples are very high on the radar of these terrorist groups and every second ploy of theirs would involve a place of religious worship in it.”
I know that some people are claiming that revealing such wealth could attract terrorist groups. Although we need to be careful, I think it would be a bit far fetched to say that terrorist groups would try to do away with the money in our temples. Research and the pattern with which these groups have been working have shown that their intention is more to create a religious divide and hence they chose to attack temples. They can also stage an attack to create havoc and this again would be on the context of creating a religious divide and not to escape with the wealth. It would be very difficult for them to do so.
Another point I would make over here is which terrorist group today is short of cash? They have enough and more and once they are in the limelight the funds continue to pour in. Take for instance the London blasts and it has been revealed that the attack was carried out with 7000 pounds. This is not big money for these terrorist organizations and they can arrange this in no time. I would not walk that far to say that terrorist groups would attack temples for the money, but their one and only goal would be to cause destruction and a divide.
Sources in the Intelligence Bureau point out that guarding of temples is extremely difficult for security agencies. Devotees throng these places in large numbers and find it to be irritating to be frisked and checked at all times. A majority of our temples have bad security due to this reason and this attracts terrorist groups as it makes it an easy target. Moreover we have seen in the past that there has been a religious divide once a place of worship is attacked and these terror groups thrive on such situations. There is a need for the managements of these places to come forward and understand the grave threat there is to these places. More often than not, they are not too cooperative where security measures are concerned which only makes the job of security agencies even more difficult.
Sahay adds that terrorist groups have never believed in religious sanctity. However more importantly it is for the management to realize the importance of safeguarding the wealth which is national treasure. When this news regarding the finding of wealth came out, it worried me a great deal. The money is lying dead and this is a national wastage. I am not saying that this money should be taken out and used right away. It is all contributed by the kings and instead the trust would do well to create assets. The artefacts that have been found should be put out on display in order to display our national heritage so that people would get a better idea of what our civilization would be. Our temples not only represent our religion but also our national heritage.
While terror threats to the temples in Indian continue to loom large the biggest issue that we continue to face is that of bad security. Take the case when an intelligence alert was put out regarding the Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu. The security agencies found it extremely difficult to beef up security since the department for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments was not too forthcoming and providing details regarding the security. Security experts point out this aspect and say that there is a tussle on since the department believes that it would cause a problem for the devotees who come to temples to worship and they would not want a security guard standing in between them and God.
A crucial meeting of Pranab Mukherjee and the leaders from Telangana once again resulted with no concrete decision being taken on the issue. During the meeting the finance minister said that the consultation process on Telangana has already begun and these leaders should consider taking back their resignations since there is a lot of turmoil in the state.
The Congress leaders from Telangana were however adamant and said that they would need an exact date and these assurances are just not good enough.
While this remains the official line that the Congress leaders from Telangana have been giving out, the real reason is that they are under tremendous pressure not to take back their resignations.
According to sources, the original ploy by the Congress was to bring pressure on the Union Government and then take back their resignations after a couple of assurances were made. In fact they had even agreed to take back their resignations once the government said that they would withdraw Article 14 (f) according to which Hyderabad would not be a free zone any longer. This means that only people from the Telangana region would be entitled for government jobs in Hyderabad.
However for the Congress the ploy went wrong when MLAs from the other parties too came forward and began submitting their resignations. The MLAs from TDP and the TRS who have tendered their resignations have only done so to put pressure on the Congress. Moreover these MLAs are adamant that they would not take back their resignations which has only increased the pressure on the Congress MLAs. During the various meetings held in New Delhi, the high command has been told about this situation. They have also been saying that if they return empty handed or take back their resignations then it is doom for the Congress in Telangana.
Applying more pressure on the Congress is the various protests that are taking place in the Telangana region. Students, the common men and women and also the government officials from this region have taken to the streets and are planning a series of protests over the next couple of days. In addition to this the Congress MLAs have also sworn before the martyrs memorial in Telangana stating that they would not take back their resignations until Telangana is formed. Sources say that the centre is seeking more time and is trying to drag this issue so that the crisis blows over. However it does not appear that it would be successful this time around since the pressures are different with 40 per cent of the MLAs in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly tendering their resignations.
The Centre meanwhile has its own set of pressures. While these MLAs from Telangana have refused to budge the centre is coming under pressure from the MLAs from Rayalseema and the Andhra region too. These MLAs have been threatening of resigning en-masse if the centre decides to give into the demands of Telangana. The Seema-Andhra MLAs have at the moment been pacified not to take any hasty decision until this crisis blows over.
While there are meetings galore scheduled in New Delhi, the entire Telangana region continues to be on the boil with the bundh continuing for the second day. Yesterday the bundh was total and it appears that it would be the same today too. Tomorrow the students are taking to the streets and have set a July 10 deadline for the announcement regarding Telangana. The students have also warned that the protests would intensify if the government ignores the deadline. Following this there would be other forms of protests including a rail rokho across Telangana.
There appears to be some news from New Delhi on the Telangana issue, with the Central Government suggesting that it would commence the consultation process on this issue. However the leaders from Telangana are not impressed since no time frame for the same has been given as yet.
However what the centre would do immediately is the declaration that Hyderabad will no longer be a free zone (withdrawal of Article 14(f) of the Constitution. This issue has been debated thorougly at New Delhi with the leaders from Telangana stating that this is only secondary and the process should commence first to set up the state. However the Union Government states that we should take one thing at a time and the issue of 14(f) was the primary demand of the agitators when they started their protest in 2009.
During the meeting of the Prime Minister with Ghulam Nabi Azad who had met with the Telangana leaders it was stated that they wanted the consultation process to commence. Although the union government was acceptable to this demand they however did not did not fix anytime for the same. This in turn angered the Telangana leaders.
Meanwhile in Hyderabad the Telegu Desam Party staged a protest outside the assembly demanding that all the resignations be accepted with immediate effect. There is drama on regarding this issue because the Deputy Speaker who hails from the Telangana region has left this matter to the Speaker who is out of the country. The Speaker who was scheduled to return today has now delayed his return to July 12 thus raising a suspicion. The leaders are now demanding that the deputy speaker either accept the resignations or quit since he too is from Telangana. The government of Andhra Pradesh has however refused to react and said that the entire issue will be decided in New Delhi.
July 10th will the last day for the Union Government to announce the formation of Telangana. This deadline was issued by the Osmania University Joint Action Committee for Telangana.
This committee which comprise the students who have been the nack bone of the movement have said that they are not prepared to wait longer than July 10. We have the support of the entire region and we will take to the streets if our demand is not met, the students said.
The students would also take part in the rail rokho programme from day after tomorrow onwards.
Meanwhile the pressure for the government is building up. At New Delhi all talks have failed and none of the packages offered for Telangana have been accepted by the leaders. Ghulam Nabi Azad who met with the leaders earlier today is briefing the Prime Minister about the demand made by the Telangana leaders. Moreover he also has informed the PM about more resignations by the TRS which means almost half of the Andhra Pradesh assembly has gone vacant.
At Hyderabad the bundh has been severe with all government employees too taking part in it. There has been enhanced security around the houses of Danam Nagender and Mukesh Goud, both Ministers. The two leaders who hail from the Telangana region have not yet resigned. Nagender and Goud have always spoken about a greater Hyderabad and said that they would await the decision of the high command.
Our temples in India have trillions of Rupees and this was revealed when the vaults of the Sri Padnamanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala was opened recently.
There is a raging debate that is on with regarding to money found in the temples. Whether it should be used for public purpose or should this be kept a secret is the question that is on everyone’s mind today.
R Vaidyanathan a Professor of Finance at IIM says three things regarding this issue- it is the wealth that belongs to the Lord, the wealth is Inter generational equity and with countries such as the United States of America and also countries in the Middle East being on the decline, the time was just not right to reveal such details. Professor Vaidyanathan in this interview with rediff.com says that Jihadis have always had their eyes on our temples and revealing of such details will only tempt them to attack our temples and steal the wealth which belongs to our Lord.
Could you explain the dangers in revealing details about the wealth in our temples.
The temples of India contain several billion dollars worth of treasures and such details have been revealed at a time that is dangerous for our polity. Given the economic depression in Europe and the also the acute unemployment situation in the USA, such news items could tempt such countries. Let us take note of the fact that the US had invaded Iraq on the ground that there were some weapons which was ultimately not there. If we open up the vaults of our temples then such factors could only tempt such countries. The US is a declining empire and they have a huge amount of economic crisis and all this just sets a dangerous precedent.
So are you saying that the US like the British invade our temple wealth?
I am not saying they would, I am just saying they could. Moreover this is not just about them. Temples are targets of terrorists and they could invade them too. Giving out such details to those terrorists could only attract them into our temples in order to loot our wealth. The Middle East too is under crisis and they could also prove dangerous to our temple wealth. Under such a situation we need to be cautious.
So what are you suggesting that we need to do with all this wealth? Let it lie idle?
It has been lying idle all these years. Why should we take it out now? We are not getting any Godly benefit by taking it out of the coffers at the moment. When one talks about temple weath which has been accumulated from the days of our Maharajas, this present generation cannot assume that it belongs only to us. It has inter generational equity and hence my great grand children too have a right over this wealth. How can we pull it out and say let us build roads with this money?
But don’t you think that wealth cannot lie idle all the time?
I am not saying that. Going by the present situation in the entire world, all I am saying is that the time is just not right to make such revealations. Moreover this wealth does not belong only to this generation. The previous generation did not get its benefit, so how can we claim a right over it? As of now it would be best if that wealth is left alone. These treasures were donated to the temple by devotees over centuries, and rightfully belong to Lord Vishnu, who cannot even be fully seen from any angle by devotees. He is the true owner of this wealth and this truth should be internalized.
So, who should handle this wealth?
Let it just remain there and be handled by the trust as was being done all these years. The time now is most inappropriate to try to list the billions of rupees worth of diamonds and rubies and sapphires owned by our temples. We all know that a significant portion of our politicians have a criminal background and even parts of the judiciary are corrupt. The bureaucracy is also compromised. Hence where government finances are completely out of alignment with revenue realities, the temptation will be to use these invaluable treasures to fulfill the insatiable personal and political greed of our politicians to fund populist schemes like “food security” for all with resources belonging to Lord Vishnu. Already more than 80% of the incomes of major temples is used for “secular” causes rather than for “sacred” purposes.
I am sorry to sound repetitive. But once again I would like to ask, what use is this wealth if it will lie idle?
During the days of the Rajas, such money was in the reserve fund. It was used only at a time of natural calamity when the rest of the coffers went dry. The money belonging to the Lord should be used only when the Lord creates a calamity. We must appreciate our Kings who had kept this wealth safe for us. In the past the Kings have used this wealth to wriggle the society out of a crisis. We must keep the wealth for the same.
Do you mean that we have gained nothing by revealing the details of this wealth?
Absolutely nothing. The Jihadis will eye our temples more. Other countries in distress will have their eyes on it. As a result of all this we will have to pray in temples in the presence of gun trotting security guards. The entire atmosphere in temples will be vitiated.
You say that some Hindu maha sabhas are quiet about this issue. Why is this the case?
I don’t think they have understood the full import of what is happening.
So what do you suppose be done now?
For the sake of Dharma and for God’s sake, our courts and powers should stop digging for treasures in our temples. We need to have a temple protection force and the responsibility should be shared between the Central and State government. We are speaking in terms of trillions over here and there is a need to protect this wealth from prying eyes. This is national treasure and hence the protection ought to be very high.
The resignations of K Chandrasekara Rao and Vijayashanthi of the Telangana Rastriya Samithi only made matters worse for the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh. The TRS which has always claimed to have spear head this movement for the formation of a separate Telangana have been watching the developments that have unfolded in the past two days.
Will the rest of the TRS MLAs also tender their resignation is the next big question? The answer from the TRS is that at the moment the rest of the MLAs do not have any intention of tendering their resignation, but they also add that if the need be then they would do so in a second.
The party’s general secretary, Subash Reddy in this interview with rediff.com takes us through the plans of the TRS and also says that KCR resigned only to keep the pressure up on the Congress. He also goes on to say that if the Congress does give a separate state, the TRS would return the favour by supporting that party in the next elections.
What is the movement looking like now?
It looks as though we are closer to our goal. There were issues with unity among all those fighting for this cause. Today we are closer to that goal and all of us are united.
Speaking of unity, there are some Congress MLAs who are yet to resign. Does that look like unity to you?
They will come around for sure. They will have no option but to resign. The people will ensure that they resign. If at all they want to salvage their political careers then they have to step down.
Why is that only KCR and Vijayashanthi have resigned? What about the rest?
The people of Telangana did not want the MLAs to resign. They had done so six months back and have come back with the peoples’ mandate. All through we had been saying that this movement would have some impact only once those in power step down and see how it has turned once they did that. KCR and Vijayashanthi resigned only to put pressure on the Congress MLAs and MPs. We did not want anyone raising a finger at us stating that we are clinging on to our seats while expecting the others to resign. Mark my words, the MLAs in our party are all set to quit. They will do so in a second.
When will that second happen sir?
We want to wait and see what happens at New Delhi. Either they give us Telangana or they should impose President’s rule. As on today nearly 33 per cent of the assembly is missing with these resignations. If the centre does not yield, then all our MLAs will resign thus taking the number up to 42 per cent. Then the government will have no moral right to continue in power and will have to step down.
What is your reading of the public in this latest issue?
Frankly speaking the public wanted to put pressure on those MLAs playing a double game. For these Congress and TDP MLAs it was necessary that they resigned since the public had started to doubt their intentions. KCR too realized this and hence had warned the Congress MLAs that they fates in politics could be sealed if they continued to play around with the sentiments of the public. You mark my words, there are a couple of more people in the congress who are yet to resign and they will follow suit because they will be left with no choice.
How sure are you that these Congress MLAs will not go back on their word and agree to some other compromise formula other than the formation of a separate state?
Do you think that they will go back on their word? We have every reason to believe that they will not go back on their word. Before setting out to hand over their resignations, they had sworn before the martyrs of Telangana that they will continue their battle until the goal is achieved. They will be cheating each and everyone if they go back on their word. Not to mention what would happen to their political careers.
What about the TDP?
We will trust the intentions of the TDP only once Chandrababu Naidu openly declares his support for Telangana.
Is the TRS already thinking of an election?
No not at all. We want Telangana first or this government to step down immediately. We are sure that we will win the elections if this government falls.
You are thinking of political benefits already. Am I right?
No we are not. The people want us back. If the Congress declares the formation of a separate state, then the TRS will support it. The Congress will lose in Seema-Andhra due to Jagan. Their only hope will be Telangana and if they want to hold on to it then they have to declare a separate state. If the Congress back tracks this time on the issue then their party would reduced to nothing like it was done in Bihar.
As the Telangana issue continues to boil, more resignations from Congress leaders hailing from the Telangana region are expected today. Around 14 MLAs from the Telangana region had not submitted their resignations yesterday and are expected to do so today thus plunging the Kiran Kumar Reddy government into further crisis.
The Andhra-Rayalseem counter
Even as the resignations of the MLAs from the Telangana region continued, there was a plan by the Congress leaders from Rayalseema and Andhra regions to tender their resignations in a bid to counter this movement. Some of these leaders felt that the Union Government may just buckle under pressure and hand over a separate state and the only way to counter that would be to tender their resignations as well. However this plan was scuttled at the last moment by Chief Minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy. He told his MLAs from the Andhra and Rayalseem regions that if they do this then it would mean the end of the party in the state, since Jagan Mohan Reddy could swoop in to take advantage.
Meetings and complaints:
Sources in the Congress, Andhra Pradesh said that Jana Reddy, one of their leaders would be meeting with Sonia Gandhi today to discuss the issue. Although the Congress high command is trying its best to avoid the formation of Telangana for now, the MLAs and MPs continue to remain adamant and will not take back their resignations unless a favourable decision is made.
The meeting with Sonia Gandhi will be the last straw for the high command to pacify the protesting leaders from Telangana.
Jana Reddy had made it clear that during the meeting there would be no compromise formula that would be worked out. Our only demand is the formation of a state and we will not settle for anything less. The people have taken to the streets and many have lost their lives. We will not let those efforts go waste. The centre has no option but to declare a separate state.
During the meetings that have been held the biggest complaint has however been against Home Minister P Chidambaram. The people of Telangana feel betrayed by his statement on December 2009 which was never implemented. He is the one who said the process has begun and now there appears to be no action on it. However the Home Minister had said that he was only voicing the view of the government and those views were not his personal views.
Another factor that has irked the leaders from Telangana is that a couple of months back, Chidambaram had acted arrogant during one of the meetings on this issue. We deserved to be treated with respect, the Telangana leaders had said.
Lastly a statement made by Chidambaram has irked them no end. The Home Minister had yesterday said that the consultation on this issue is a continous process. He had also said that two parties had not attended this process and hence the consultations had to continue. The leaders from Telangana have ridiculed this statement stating that he is only buying more time on this issue. What does he mean when he says that two parties had not attended. He should remember that two days before he made the statement assuring us of Telangana, there was a unanimous decision in the Andhra Pradesh assembly that a bill on Telangana needs to be passed. It was on the basis of this reselution that he made that December statement. So what consultation does he speak of again, the leaders asked. The fact that such a reselution was passed itself is a clear indication of what the leaders want. When he said two parties had not attended he meant the CPI(M) and the Telegu Desam Party. The TDP was part of this unanimous resolution and the CPI(M) has not seats in Telangana. Moreover one must also take into account the election manifesto of all political parties during the 2009 elections. Each one has the formation of Telangana on it. Is this not sufficient for the union government?
During the meeting with the leaders in the high command, the Telangana leaders would also say that a consultation process cannot be changed each and everday. There are enough and more indications that each party in Andhra Pradesh want a separate Telangana.
At the moment it does not appear that the union government has enough tricks up its sleeve to pacify these MLAs and MPs. The only option the leaders are giving them is to commence the process for the formation of a separate state.
Hyderabad has been placed under high alert as the 48 hour bundh call by pro activists began this morning. Security is tight in all parts of the Telangana region especially in Hyderabad.
Yesterday MLAs and MPs from both the Congress and the Telegu Desam Party hailing from the Telangana region submitted their resignation thus creating a constitutional crisis in the state. Today matters became worse with K Chandrashekhar Rao of the Telangana Rastriya Samithi sending in his resignation to the Speaker. While telling his leaders to submit their resignations, he has also said that the time is right now to intensify the movement.
Hyderabad is expected to be tense in the next couple of days with all units supporting the Telangana movement deciding to take the fight to the streets.
The Osmania University which has been the epi centre of this protest will be the centre of every one’s attention as the students prepare to take this battle forward.
The protestors while showing their appreciation towards those leaders who have tendered their resignations however are keeping a close watch on the ten ministers from the Telangana region who are part of the Kiran Kumar Reddy government. They say that they would have to change the manner in which they have submitted their resignations since the procedure they have followed is incorrect. As per the rule Ministers should submit their resignations to the Governor and not to the Speaker. These ministers should try to get out of this on a technicality they say.
Moreover the agitators have also said that these leaders should keep the pressure on at all times. The Speaker who is scheduled to return today will take a look at the resignations. There is no time limit for him to accept these resignations. He has the power to accept these resignations after meeting with each of these leaders personally- a process which could take months. Hence bearing in mind these delay tactics, it is important that the pressure and the heat is stepped up on the government.
The Union Government meanwhile has already written to the President of India seeking an amendment to the Indian Constitution in so far as Hyderabad is concerned. They had assured that they would not keep Hyderabad as a free zone. This would mean that only those from the Telangana region will be able to secure government jobs in Hyderabad. However both the activists and the MLAs have rejected this offer and said that they will settle for nothing short of a separate state. These issues are secondary and can be discussed later. First give us Telangana and then talk about the rest, the leaders had told the government in New Delhi last night. The government would however try and make a final push today too to pacify the leaders who at the moment appear to be in no mood to listen.
The latest in the offering by the Union Government- we will ensure Hyderabad is no longer a free zone. As talks between the Union Government and the Telangana MLAs and MPs continue, the deadlock also continues. Nearly 80 MLAs both from the Congress and the Telegu Desam Party have resigned bringing both the Union Government and the Andhra Pradesh government under tremendous pressure.
The centres discussion with the MLAs and MPs commenced with the former offering a special package for Telangana. Then they said that they would start discussions on the issue. When none of these worked the government assured that they would ensure that Telangana is no longer a free zone. This means no person from Andhra and Rayalseema can get government jobs in Hyderabad and these jobs would be reserved only for the people of Telangana.
However the leaders remained adamant and made it clear all these issues are secondary. On December 9th the Union Home Minister had promised us that the process for the formation of Telangana would commence. Act on that statement and begin the process if you want us to take back our resignation.
The leaders also stepped up the heat on Jaipal Reddy who is also from Telangana but has not resigned as yet. Reddy has been brokering the talks between the Telangana leaders and the government as of now. The leaders told him to first step down and then talk.
Meanwhile a series of programmes have been planned in Hyderabad and the rest of Telangana. A 48 hour bundh would be followed by a rail rokho programme after the bundh. Political Joint Action Committee leader for Telangana, Kodanda Ram said all this while the people protested and the politicians watched. Today onwards it will be the other way round.
At the moment it appears as though the issue would continue to dangle. The congress MLAs came under immense pressure after the TDP MLAs resigned to their posts. They will not be able to reverse their decision now unless the government of India offers somethin concrete and by concrete the leaders mean formation of Telangana.