End of dilemma for Telangana JAC?

By: Rama Melkote

The decision of the TJAC to support the TRS candidate in Parkal Assembly constituency augurs well both for the TRS and the TJAC. Yet, it is rather strange that the TJAC needed a survey by academicians and students of Osmania University for “finding the pulse the Parkal public”.

The co-convener of the TJAC said that some 600-odd voters in different polling booths were posed questions after which the final survey report was prepared, assessing the strength of the two pro-Telangana parties, the TRS and the BJP.

The Chairman of TJAC said that this decision was not taken to please any one party. “Not backing either of the two pro-Telangana parties might lead to splitting of votes, eventually benefitting the Seemandhra parties….Therefore, the TJAC is left with no option but to change its neutral stand.”

This is a lesson learnt, somewhat belatedly, from the experience of Mahboobnagar election where the TJAC’s stand has led to the defeat of the one and only minority candidate.

The question is: Should the TJAC give primacy to electoral calculations at the cost of ideological issues? While one can understand the compulsions of a complex grouping of different individuals and parties of divergent political persuasions, whatever stand it takes cannot be at the cost of people’s vision of the future Telangana State.

The TJAC is the consolidation and democratic expression of the Telangana movement. The movement for Telangana is today spearheaded not so much by political parties as by student organizations and other democratic movements that represent all sections of the people.
Yet, without a political party, the movement itself cannot realize the separate State.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti is the party that has been working towards that goal. This is,however, not to say that the party has the support of all those who are for Telangana; nor of all democratic movements.

The dynamics of the movement and the political party are different. The TRS cannot do without a strong movement; nor can the movement achieve its goal without a strong and democratic political party led by leaders of integrity, a word that is fast losing its salience in Indian politics.

The BJP is a late entrant into the Telangana movement and its claim to legitimacy and leadership is based on its so-called national status. A party tarnished by its record of communal politics, by its Hindutva fascist ideology, amply manifested in the Mahboobnagar by-election, must be subjected to scrutiny before one can accept its leadership of Telangana movement.

The TRS has condemned the communal discourse of the BJP. It must prove its credentials by building a party that is secular, inclusive, and democratic in its functioning.are the visions of the TRS and the BJP for future Telangana? Those who are part of the Telangana movement, students above all, dream of a Telangana that is a just State and is an inclusive society.

The Telangana movement has acquired a base that is unprecedented and the issues are far wider and do not confine themselves to Statehood but also include issues of land, livelihood, Dalit and OBC rights, women’s rights, minority rights, language and culture. Where do the two parties stand on these issues?

The TRS has issued statements on and off on Dalit policy, on minorities, etc. There is a manifesto [?] of 17th December,2006, “What after Karimnagar” which speaks about reorganizing of districts, of reviewing of urban land assignments, agricultural power corporations, youth employment centers, Telangana micro credit banks, administrative reforms etc.

There is a TRS Dalit policy document. One has not seen such policy documents of the BJP. This is not to say that the TRS, if and when it comes to power, will implement democratic and just policies.

Electoral manifestoes are one thing; power politics quite another. It is in this context that what we need is a civil society of democratic, secular organizations that will hold parties in power in check and make them accountable to the people.

The several JACs, people’s fronts of the Telangana movement, have the potential to perform such a task. For this, it is imperative that they take a normative, ethical ideological stand on issues and not sink into calculations of competitive power politics. The burden, above all, lies on the TJAC that claims to lead the movement. (Hans India)

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