Monday, October 10, 2011

Telangana 25: Why Delhi cannot wish away Telangana anymore

No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come - Victor Hugo

No one knows this better than PM Manmohan Singh, who very often quotes this line. After failing to suppress the Telangana movement with the SriKrishna committee and its Chapter 8 recommendations, the central government now is embattled by the ‘Sakala Janula Samme’ (SJS) launched by the people of Telangana. A million employees of Government, right from state secretariat to Singareni colleries have been on an indefinite strike for 26 days now. They have foregone their salaries too and signaled they are not going to budge till the central government implements its December 9, 2009 decision to demerge Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

An otherwise bustling Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS) wears a deserted look as the RTC employees are on Strike. MGBS is among the 4 largest bus stations in Asia.

So what will Delhi do now? Unlike in the past, there is an ongoing strike which overthrew governance in Telangana and is pushing the state and regions around it into darkness, literally. Cities, towns and villages in Andhra Pradesh are facing electricity power cuts (some up to 10 hours a day) as are cities like Bangalore, Pune and Thiruvanathapuram. There are mounting revenue losses with each passing day and more importantly increasing frustration with these democratic and peaceful methods of agitation. With the SKC episode, the Congress and its central and state governments lost all credibility. As did the mainstream print and electronic media, which played an active role in Chapter 8.  The game is up for Delhi which has no option to dilly-dally now lest the agitation will spiral out of control of its leadership. The NH-9 blockade 4 days ago is a precursor of things to come, in such scenario. Already, the TJAC is under tremendous pressure to ‘harden up’ from its vanta-varpu kind of programs which have made enough of the point about peaceful & brotherly co-existence in Telangana.

In Hyderabad, Seemandhra secretariat employees were taken to their offices with police escort.

What should worry supporters of Telangana is the steady loss of faith of the agitators in our institutions of democracy. The executive, the judiciary, the press all have been corrupted and rights to these institutions have been denied to the movement. The despondence this sparked contributed to 600 odd suicides. How long will it take for this despondence to turn from hurting self to avenging the oppressive rulers? Unmindful of this volatility, those opposing the demerger, like the Chief Minister himself, poke fun at the strike everyday by reminding that the strike would ‘only hurt Telangana’. So what do these guys want?

At least, did someone in Delhi wake up to the reality that this strike is not just going to ‘hurt Telangana alone’. And that, besides hurting the democratic and social fabric of this region and country, this strike could also create a real, day-to-day crisis. Did someone realize that Telangana is no Manipur. Bang in the middle, if the agitators turn restless, the north and south of this country gets disconnected. What if the Rail-Rokos get indefinite? What if the national highways get blocked indefinitely? Are they then going to bring the army in!? The media owned by Andhra plutocrats definitely want us to believe so. They have been on a propaganda spree for last few days that center is geared up for President’s rule in the state to ‘control’ the spiraling unrest. Wishful thinking, I would say or just another trick to demoralize the striking citizens into believing that their efforts are futile and the strike needs to be withdrawn. The media also created a controversy out of Pranab Mukherjee’s comments on Telangana agitation.

In fact, the very fact that this media, after a prolonged silence on Telangana, as per SKC’s Chapter 8 instructions, now started talking about possible Centre’s action shows the success of the strike. The strike has successfully untied the Chapter 8 blockade on Telangana debate. And it is poised to push all the Andhra plutocrats into a corner, despite their media empires.

Nothing short of demerger and inaugurating the state of Telangana is going to stop this movement. The agitators have risked their lives and livelihood, Delhi has to succumb. While the Andhra Pradesh government seems to have released nearly 80 crores to Police to ‘control’ the Telangana stir and marked the same GOs as confidential, it would be fallacy to assume this agitation can be contained anymore through police and paramilitary forces. The SJS is the inflection point and Delhi cannot wish away Telangana anymore. The time for the idea of Telangana has come.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Telangana 24: Sakala Janula Samme and our Gandhian CM Kiran Kumar Reddy

I should say I am ‘moved’ by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s singing paeans for Gandhism in the Vijayawada meeting today on the occassion of Gandhi Jayanthi. This tribute to Gandhian principles ‘Vandhe Gandhiyam’ is choreographed and produced by our prime gandhian and honorable MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, whose latest gandhian act has been to trigger a police attack on the genitals of a Government employee, a leader of the NGO union. Nonetheless, off late Kiran Kumar Reddy has been showing outstanding gandhism and deserves to be understood for his spirited speech today. Here is something that illustrates how ardent a follower he is of Gandhi. 

When Govt. employees gave a hartal notice, an instrument advocated by mahatma himself, this gandhian’s government made no efforts on their demands and now after 20 days of strike, it is not paying the 7 lakh employees on strike. What is particularly notable is that this is the festive season, with bathukamma and Dussera, the two most important festivals in Telangana. While the employees go without the festive joy, our Gandhian CM is busy pouring his heart about peaceful protests and Gandhi’s methods – like hartal and satyagraha!
With the ongoing Sakala Janula Samme (SJS), the CM took a very gandhian approach of ‘divide and rule’ and violent police oppression. When the drivers and employees of the state road transport corp (APSRTC) went on strike, he made no attempts to have a dialogue and instead pushed unlicensed and inexperienced home guards to drive the city buses in Hyderabad. His gandhian actions killed 3 people and injured scores of pedestrians when the rookie drivers created mayhem on the road in few separate accidents like this.

The most gandhian action is how he is tearing down the livelihood of millions of farmers in Telangana at this moment. While the water reservoirs in the state are full and can generate 65 million units of electricity, this gandhian Government chose to generate only 30 million, thereby creating an artificial electricity deficit and cutting off power in Telangana. The Gandhian CM tells the farmers in Telangana, in this busy season when they are expecting to harvest their crop, that the daily power cut is due to the strike of his Telangana brethren in Singareni colleries. By robbing the Telangana farmer their hard-earned crop, this gandhian proved how to commit genocide without raising a knife! Can anything get more gandhian than this - destroying the livelihood of millions of farmers? Think about their families, the debts they got to pay, the marriages they have to do,..

Of course, I won’t even attempt to start discussing the many other gandhian acts of police repression on peacefully agitating MLAs, MPs – no less. Only the other day, a group of MLAs who resigned months ago in protest against the delay in forming Telangana, shut themselves in the premises of the state legislature to get their resignations accepted. The Governments and the speaker who threw the spirit and procedures of the constitution to the wind won’t accept the resignations, because accepting them would open another front for people of Telangana, through the by-election, to reiterate their right for statehood. This must be the only instance of its kind in the world where supposedly democratic governments won’t accept a resignation of a public representative but instead would kick them around and arrest them!

Even as you read this, soon after the meeting, the chief minister must have gone into a huddle with the esteemed guest Gulam Nabi Azad, the numero uno gandhian Lagadapati and other prominent gandhians like KVP Ramachandra Rao, Botsa Satyanarayana, Devineni Nehru etc to discuss the status of Delhi parleys on Telangana and the more advanced gandhian means and methods to suppress the Telangana movement while deciding on a date and time to reenact the Samaikyandra drama.