By Sujai K
While describing the merger of Telangana and Andhra State in 1956 that resulted in formation of Andhra Pradesh, we tend to use metaphors like calling it ‘marriage of unequals’, or describing it as ‘an innocent girl married to naughty boy’. Nehru purportedly said that this ‘marriage’ could be annulled through a ‘divorce’ at any point of time in future. While such comparisons make poetic sense for the sake of driving a point, there is a danger when people start taking these analogies quite literally. Right now, such comparisons are encouraging some Seemandhra politicians to seek alimony from Telangana or compensation from New Delhi for the loss of Hyderabad. They should realize that any talks of compensation for the loss of Hyderabad as if it is ‘alimony’ will be quite disastrous for Seemandhras.
When Gujaratis claimed Bombay because they had invested heavily into the city, no compensation was provided to Gujaratis for the loss when Bombay eventually became part of new Maharashtra. No such compensation was given to Andhra State when Madras was retained by Tamil Nadu. There was no discussion on ‘alimony’ because no one seriously considered them to be real marriages. Back then, people were sensible enough to admit that such poetic references cannot be taken literally.
A journalist in DNA makes a dangerous proposition:
The leaders of Telangana will have to accept the burden of a costly alimony payment for severing the ties. The centre should facilitate the separation and structure and schedule the payment to be made in lieu of Hyderabad.
Such a talk may NOT go against the interests of Telanganas but will definitely go against the interests of Seemandhras. That’s because, if Seemandhras expect ‘alimony’ and ‘compensation’, then Telanganas can draw a list of items that Seemandhra need to compensate us for the loss that we endured in the last 55 years in this farcical ‘marriage’.
Our list sums up to a far bigger amount than any pitiful investment Seemandhras made into Hyderabad. Telanganas will demand the compensation for the loss to our farmers and our economy over last three generations for the water they stole from us. We will then demand compensation for the loss of natural resources like coal and minerals. We will then demand compensation for the loss of opportunity to three generations of Telanganas in the sectors of government jobs, in administration, banks, education, electricity, transport, revenue, etc.
We will then demand compensation for the loss of our lands that was sold to the bidders from Seemandhra. We will then sue them for the massive and large scale pogrom of discrimination, suppression and marginalization of Telanganas for nearly three generations. We will then sue them for negative characterization of Telanganas in their movies and history books and seek compensation for the neglect of our culture that resulted in loss of self-identity. Then we will sue them for malicious delay in formation of Telangana after 9th December 2009 announcement resulting in death of nearly 600 people in Telangana.
And my dear friends, the money owed to Telangana will be so big that Seemandhras will have to toil for the next two hundred years to pay us with their hard-earned taxes. Therefore, according to me, it is in the best interest of Seemandhras that they stay away from such foolish and irresponsible discussions before it backfires on them.
And then there are some Telanganas who seems to have a plan on how we can trick Seemandhras on the status of Hyderabad. Some Telanganas have suggested that we should do exactly what Andhras did to us to teach them a lesson. That we should just blindly accept all agreements right now so that we get Telangana, and once it is in the bag, we should just ditch all agreements.
I am not supportive of such an argument. Creation of Telangana is not about just achieving Telangana but it is also about setting a right example to ourselves so that it will be a guide to all of our future actions. We cannot start the new state on such a gross deceit. Just because Andhras meted out such duplicitous treatment to us does not mean we should behave like them. One of the key ideas while forming Telangana should be that we should do everything possible in our capacity not to emulate what our Andhra brothers did to us after they signed Gentlemen’s Agreement.
We do not learn our histories to repeat the ignominies and wretchedness of the past, but to carefully avoid them for all time to come. We do not pore over our histories, documents and agreements to carefully chronicle the betrayals of Andhras to learn to behave like them, but to learn not to accept the same treatment ever again, and more so that we don’t treat others the same when it is our turn.
We may be eager to get Telangana, we may be exhausted from our strikes and agitations and we may be in a hurry to sign on the dotted line on the agreements to get Telangana. But that does not mean we walk into any compromise. We should not sign on an agreement if we have no intention on abiding by it. We should not make any promises that we have no intention of keeping it. If it means we have to struggle a little longer to get Telangana, let it be so, but there should be no slyness, no trickery, no subterfuge, and no deception when we sit across the table discussing the modalities of creation of Telangana. We cannot be dishonest with our Seemandhra brothers because then we are being dishonest to our future generations.
We have a responsibility to set the right example for our future generations in Telangana. When they look back at us in time, what will they think of us? Will they be proud of us that we were crafty enough to sign a document knowing very well we have no intention of keeping it? Or will they be proud that we fought a little longer, took little more pain, but in the end came out as true gentlemen?
If New Delhi says ‘take Telangana without Hyderabad’, we have to refuse Telangana right now. We will not go into accepting Telangana with the hope that we will somehow trick Andhras out of the capital city. Some people may call it ‘smart’ but everyone knows that it is ‘cunning’. We cannot create Telangana on the basis of deception. What kind of a story will that be to tell our children and grandchildren, that after fighting with Andhras for so long to get our own state, we became like them in the end?
I, for one, will not like to be part of that story.