By: Amar Nath
As the Congress finally decided to take the parachute to avoid plunging into a political oblivion in Telangana and announce the state today, a multitude of feelings swept over me. The statehood is a historic victory of a genuine people’s movement, a rarity in modern India. I am proud to be associated with it. It is probably one of the largest ever non-violent mass movements in the world. This has been a life changing experience for people like me who have been highly involved in the movement for last few years. This is a kind of closure to a churning part in me that was engaging with continuous thoughts about democracy, politics, media and most importantly mass people’s movements, in the Indian context.
People of Telangana had to brave a formidable opposition and win over it to fulfill their long held wish. Chapter 8 saga from Justice Srikrishna’s report showed all too well how the opposition was manipulating all institutions we rely upon in a democracy – executive, police, judiciary, media and political parties. Yet, the common man of Telangana persisted and showed time and again (in the elections too) that they would punish the parties that opposed statehood, without fail. Thanks to TJAC and the TRS, it is their long-drawn out agitation that they could sustain that ultimately cornered the UPA government into conceding the state.
At this moment, I can’t help but think how ideologues like Late Acharya Jayashankar and Late Prof. Biyyala Janardhan Rao so selflessly passed on this spirit to fight for Telangana, to this generation. They serve as inspiration to all the millions of Telanganites who are determined to make a better future for them in the new state. They serve as reminders of what the present generation of Telanganites owe to next generation. I already see many of the young agitators forming groups and enthusiastically do their bit in rural Telangana in education, drinking water etc. It is this spirit of active public participation that would make Telangana a better state.
By clinching the statehood, Telanganites proved they can force their public representatives to listen to them, even if it means they have to come onto the streets. While there are no stalwarts among their MLAs and MPs, it is their collective and persistent pressure that forced their politicians, especially from Congress, to fight unitedly for statehood and outmaneuver their much powerful Seemandhra counterparts. Telanganites have united across caste and religion to achieve this. This offered a glimmer of hope that even as electorate in the new state, they would exercise their franchise rising above those divisions.
Finally, in all the churn and turn of last 4 years, most of the Telanganites have become more aware of the politics and its many shapes – the deceit, the opportunism and learned the patience required in dealing with it. Time and again, the Government and parties with their actions, shown them hope that there demand would be considered, only to be disappointed. As and when they planned an event in the agitation, the government used brute force to suppress and harass them. Sakala Janula Samme, the momentous and defining event of this agitation percolated the aspiration and angst of this agitation into each and every home in Telangana. No wonder, the Congress caved in; instead of daring this angst hit them at the ballot. All these factors taught patience to Telanagnites and they would need loads of it to see positive changes in the new state.
While the delay and suppression of Telangana movement after December 9, 2009 in forming the state has caused unspeakable suffering to the moral fabric of Telangana and resulted in hundreds of deaths of youth, it did make a whole new generation wiser, mature and ready to be active participants in the new state. As I was receiving congratulatory calls from Telanganites when news poured in today from New Delhi, a curious North Indian friend asked me ‘How does a new state matter’? Well, you see, as these experiences show, it already mattered, even before inauguration!