Telangana was a region in the present state of Andhra Pradesh and formerly was part of Hyderabad state, which was ruled by Nizam. Andhra Pradesh State has three main cultural regions namely, Telengana, Coastal Andhra region and Rayalaseema. The Telangana region has an area of 114,840 square kilometres and a population of 35,286,757 (2011 census), which is 41.6% of Andhra Pradesh state population. The Telangana region comprise of 10 districts: Adilabad, Hyderabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy, and Warangal. The Musi River, Krishna and Godavari rivers flow through the region from west to east.
History of Telangana
When India became independent from the British Empire in 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad did not want to merge with Indian Union and wanted to remain independent under the special provisions given to princely states. He even asked for a corridor, a passage from India. Rebellion had started throughout the state against the Nizam’s rule and his army. The Government of India annexed Hyderabad State on 17 September 1948, in an operation by the Indian Army called Operation Polo.
When India became independent, Telugu-speaking people were distributed in about 22 districts, 9 of them in the former Nizam’s dominions of the princely state of Hyderabad, 12 in the Madras Presidency (Northern Circars), and one in French-controlled Yanam.
The Central Government appointed a civil servant, M. K. Vellodi, as First Chief Minister of Hyderabad State on 26 January 1950. In 1952, Dr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was elected Chief minister of Hyderabad State in the first democratic election. During this time there were violent agitations by some Telanganites to send back bureaucrats from Madras state, and to strictly implement rule by natives of Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, Telugu-speaking areas in the Northern Circars and Rayalaseema regions were carved out of the erstwhile Madras state on the fast unto death by Potti Sri Ramulu to create Andhra State in 1953, with Kurnool as its capital. Nehru chose to ignore Sriramulu’s fast. On the 56th day of his fast unto death, Sriramulu died and violence erupted. In December 1953, the States Reorganization Commission was appointed to study the creation of states on linguistic basis. The States Reorganization Commission (SRC) was not in favor of an immediate merger of Telangana region with Andhra state, despite their common language.
The people of Telangana had several concerns. The region had a less-developed economy than Andhra, but with a larger revenue base (mostly because it taxed rather than prohibited alcoholic beverages), which people of Telangana feared might be diverted for use in Andhra. They feared that planned irrigation projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers would not benefit Telangana proportionately, even though people of Telangana controlled the headwaters of the rivers. It was feared that the people of Andhra, who had access to higher standards of education under the British rule, would have an unfair advantage in seeking government and educational jobs.
The Chief Minister of Hyderabad State, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, expressed his view that majority of Telangana people were against the merger. He supported the Congress party’s central leadership decision to merge Telangana and Andhra despite opposition in Telangana. Andhra state assembly passed a resolution on 25 November 1955 to provide safeguards to Telangana.
Telangana leaders did not believe the safeguards would work. With lobbying from Andhra Congress leaders and with pressure from the Central leadership of Congress party, an agreement was reached between Telangana leaders and Andhra leaders on 20 February 1956 to merge Telangana and Andhra with promises to safeguard Telangana’s interests.
Following the Gentlemen’s agreement, the central government established a unified Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. The agreement provided reassurances to Telangana in terms of power-sharing as well as administrative domicile rules and distribution of expenses of various regions.
But within a few years, Andhra Pradesh was rocked by political turmoil. Between 1969 and 1972, the state witnessed two separate movements- ‘ Jai Telangana’ and ‘Jai Andhra’. The Telangana leaders accused Andhra leaders of flouting the gentlemen’s agreement. Andhra leaders retaliated by saying the ‘Mulkis’ policy was discrimination against them. In 1919’ the Nizam had issued a decree stating that only ‘Mulkis’, that is people born in the state or those who had lived there for atleast 15 years, were eligible for public appointment in the state. Domiciled ‘Mulkis’ were also required to have an affidavit that they would never return to their native places. After the merger, the people of Hyderabad wanted this rule to be observed, while the people of coastal Andhra and other parts of the state were against it. The movement, which started with the demands of safeguarding the interests of the people of the erstwhile Hyderabad state, soon started demanding a separate state. On January 10, 1973, president’s rule was imposed, but soon the matter was resolved for the time being.
Why a Telangana State?
-The government has discriminated against the region by providing a huge chunk of aid to private colleges (Junior as well as Degree) in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema with very little to the private colleges in Telangana.
-While state level institutions are spread out in many districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, in Telangana region they are located only in the capital city Hyderabad. t is asserted that indirect benefits in terms of employment and development of the area around a state level institute/university are denied to the 9 districts of Telangana while 4 state level institutions have been located in one town (Tirupati) of district Chittoor in Rayalaseema region.
-It is stated that there are four government medical colleges for the four districts in Rayalseema,whereas there are only two medical colleges for the 9 districts in Telangana(excluding Hyderabad) and as a result, even students with a high rank cannot get a seat. In nursing also, there are several colleges in Rayalaseema whereas Telangana has only one college which was established during the Nizam period.
-The government health facilities (Hospital Beds and Doctors) per lac population are the highest in Rayalaseema region followed by coastal Andhra region. Telangana region particularly, excluding Hyderabad, is behind in these respects.
-Discrimination has ben done against Telangana in the distribution of river waters, inadequate mechanisms to address inter regional disputes over river water sharing and water use and part diversion of river Godavari to coastal Andhra and river Krishna to Rayalaseema to the detriment of the Telangana region.
-It is claimed that cultural domination by coastal Andhra has affected the development of distinctive Telangana culture with lack of respect for Telangana writers, poets, artists and other literary figures.
-It is claimed that festivals like Bathukamma, Bonalu, Dashera, Deepavali, Holi, Peera Panduga(Muslim festival), Jataras (festival of tribals and Dalits) are celebrated in Telangana but not in coastal Andhra and not given recognition in the state.
-They argue that several agreements and promises made and beginning with those in the Gentlemen’s Agreement have not been adhered to.
-They also alleged that Telangana chief ministers represented the state for only 10.6 years out of over five decades of its existence, with no chief minister from the region being in power continuously for more than 2 1/2 years, while Seema-Andhra region held it for 42 years.
Events leading to Bifurcation
-In 1999, Congress demanded creation of Telangana state. Congress was then smarting under crushing defeats in successive elections to the state Assembly and Parliament with the ruling Telugu Desam Party in an unassailable position.
-Yet another chapter opened in the struggle for Telangana when Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, who was seething over denial of Cabinet berth in the Chandrababu Naidu government, walked out of TDP and launched Telangana Rashtra Samiti on 27 April 2001.
-Following pressure applied by Telangana Congress leaders, the Central Working Committee of Congress in 2001 sent a resolution to the then NDA government seeking constitution of a second States Re-organisation Commission to look into Telangana state demand, which was rejected by the then Union Home Minister L K Advani.
-TRS started gradually building the movement for a separate state.
-Congress forged an electoral alliance with TRS by promising to create Telangana state.
-Congress came to power in 2004, both in the state and at the Centre, and TRS became part of the coalition governments at both places.
-Protesting delay in carving out the separate state, TRS quit the coalition governments in the state and at the Centre in December 2006 and continued an independent fight.
-In October 2008, TDP changed its stance and declared support for bifurcation of the state.
-TRS launched an indefinite hunger strike on 29 November 2009 demanding creation of Telangana. The Centre budged and came out with an announcement on 9 December 2009 that it was “initiating the process for formation of Telangana state”.
-But the Centre announced on 23 December 2009 that it was putting Telangana issue on hold. This fanned protests across Telangana with some students ending their lives for a separate state.
-The Centre then constituted a five-member Committee on 3 February 2010, headed by former judge Srikrishna, to look into statehood demand. The Committee submitted its report to the Centre on 30 December 2010.
-Telagana region witnessed a series of agitations like the Million March, Chalo Assembly and Sakalajanula Samme (general strike) in 2011-12 while MLAs belonging to different parties quit from the House.
-With its MPs from Telangana upping the ante, Congress made Union Home Ministry to convene an all-party meeting on December 28, 2012 to find an “amicable solution” to the crisis.
-The Lok Sabha passed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, which bifurcates the State of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, on 18th February 2014 and on 20th February 2014 by the Rajya Sabha. The President of India attested the bill on 1st March 2014. The appointed day for the formation of the new states was 2nd June 2014.
Hyderabad will serve as the common capital for both states for 10 years. Thereafter, it will be in Telangana. However, the Seemandhra capital is expected to come up in a couple of years – most probably between Guntur and Vijayawada (two major towns separated by about 35kms). Till then, the government buildings in Hyderabad will be shared by the two states.
By Vipin Mittal, Jindal Global Law School, Haryana.