Did Sunday's massive Telangana March signal the unhitching of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) from the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)? Observers of the struggle believe so.
In the charged atmosphere on the shores of the Hussain Sagar, there was an undercurrent of divergent views.
Late in the evening, TRS MLAs walked out of the post-march sitin after Vimalakka of the Telangana United Front took a swipe at TRS boss K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) when she said, “Telangana cannot be won by bowing and scraping in Delhi but by fighting in the streets of Hyderabad.”
The MLAs were also said to be peeved with TJAC chairman M Kodandaram’s “unilateral” decision to convert the March into a sit-in after the permitted hour of 7 p.m.
The TRS boss had been lukewarm, or even cool, to the idea of the march from the time it was proposed a couple of months ago. Before embarking on his mission to Delhi early this month, KCR had reportedly remarked sarcastically that there would be no need for the Sept 30 march because he would return to Hyderabad with a Telangana state by then.
On Sunday, while thousands of Telangana supporters engaged the police in a standoff on the banks of the Hussain Sagar, KCR was still in New Delhi, perhaps watching the show on TV.
The Pink Panther’s family members -- son K T Rama Rao and daughter Kavitha -- joined the buildup to the march rather late. They too took out rallies which converged at the venue and KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao led a huge rally of TRS men from his Siddipet constituency making sure that each of them carried a pink flag so that the TRS’s participation registered on TV screens.
Sources within the TRS admitted that KCR is beginning to regret having fallen into the trap laid by Delhi. He cold-shouldered Kodandaram perhaps in the belief that a show of this scale would not be possible without his own active support. But by the time he sensed that Delhi was not going to do anything on Telangana, it was too late to take ownership of the march.
In the buildup to the march, through all the numerous meetings with ministers and police officials and then during the show itself on Sunday, it was Kodandaram who was at centrestage. “No one can deny it was KCR who kept the issue alive for years, but today’s event shows that the inherent strength of the movement is more important than individuals. When the call for the march was given, people didn’t bother to look at who gave it: KCR or Kodandaram. They just wanted to be part of it,” a Telangana political observer said.
It is not just now that KCR has remained away from a big event. Observers point out a change in his approach from the time he came in for flak for allowing a business partner to bag an irrigation project in coastal Andhra that is vehemently opposed by Telangana. He went into a shell, preferring to stay at his farmhouse away from the capital and kept himself busy growing capsicum, among other vegetables.
And when the time to gear up for the march came, he took the flight to Delhi