Push for separate Telangana acquires a caste colour
ARUN KUMAR, TNN 9 December 2009, 02:32am IST
HYDERABAD: The Telengana campaign is fast acquiring the dimensions of
a spontaneous caste upsurge. Although the present agitation was
kickstarted by a political party —the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) —
the movement's base is now gravitating to the numerous backward castes
(BCs) who form the bulk of the population in the region.
Left out of the political matrix and in the market for job and
business opportunities, many among the BCs are looking at the campaign
as a golden opportunity to gain from. "Students, women from
self-employed groups, lawyers and intellectual are all jumping into
the movement, though as of now it is still on the surface and cannot
be said to have attained a self-sustaining dimension," an inspector
general of police told TOI.
As of now, there is no political outfit which represents agitators —
the TRS' organisational base being not strong and K Chandrasekhar Rao,
being at best a symbol. But in coming days, representatives of
Congress in the region are expected to rush in to fill the vacuum. The
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that is mum now will also want to take
advantage of the situation. The BJP, non-existent in this part of the
world, wants to push energetically to expand its southern base.
"A flip side to liberalisation has been that the well-to-do today send
their students to private universities and private engineering
colleges. The majority of those who study in the state run
universities are the BCs, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. In
this slowdown there are no jobs and these students feel that a
separate Telangana will be the panacea," a professor of the Osmania
University (OU) said.
That is the reason why the Osmania University in Hyderabad and
Kakatiya University in Warangal are the hotbeds of the agitation. This
is also the reason why the government is trying to forcibly vacate
hostels of both these universities using anti-naxalite forces,
commandos and central forces.
The proliferation of the TV channels is helping spread the movement
fast and dissiminate the message of Telangana, protest leaders say.
The last major Telangana movement in 1969 in which 380 students died,
was led by students and intellectuals. "These were students from the
higher castes and intellectuals from the liberal establishment. But
this time boys from the community of weavers, masons, potters,
barbers, washermen and tailors all have joined. This makes them a
potent force," a professor from the University of Hyderabad said.
Members of the numerically small higher castes like Reddy would not be
for a separate Telangana at a rational level, yet the feeling of
exploitation by coastal Andhra migrants has grown so strong in the
last fifty years that they too have back a separate state.
"Its no longer an idealistic movement like that in 1969. It is now an
in-your-face kind of agitation", said Janaki of Rani Rudrama Samkhya,
a women's self-help group in Warangal.
"We are covering 10-15 km in villages, mandal headquarters and towns
by going on two-wheelers, tractors, autos to spread the separate
statehood message. It's now or never," said backward caste Aikya
Vedika leader Banda Prakash. "We have overwhelming support from
students, government employees of all departments, advocates, private
schools associations, coolies, teachers and women of selp groups," he
"Telangana is sitting on a volcano now and the separate state issue
cannot be dodged anymore," said associate president of Telangana Non
Gazetted Officers Forum Paritala Subba Rao.
"There is an emotional integration amongst the people of this region.
It could lead to a major upsurge if no assurance is given," warned V L
Narasimha Rao, who took part in the '69 movement.
Is the demand for a separate state of Telangana justified?
Should smaller states be created for easier and better administration?
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