Amid waning hopes of the Centre taking any decision in the near future on granting statehood to Telangana, Hyderabad will witness yet another march—the second in a year and a half—on September 30 afternoon by thousands of people voicing a demand that has seen peaks and troughs through three generations since the 1960s.
For four hours beginning at three in the afternoon, men and women, young and old from various parts of Telangana will form a “haaram” (necklace) around the Husain Sagar lake in the heart of the capital, singing Telangana folk songs, staging street skits and dancing to Telangana ditties.
It was after a lot of drama and political coercion that the state government finally agreed to give permission to the Telangana March, having first denied it, citing the Ganesh immersion procession and the threat of agitators resorting to vandalism of the kind seen during last year’s Millennium March when statues of Telugu greats on Tank Bund were destroyed.
With the DGP V Dinesh Reddy adamant that the march cannot be permitted and the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) vowing to go ahead with it willy-nilly, ministers from Telangana lobbied, harangued and arm-twisted chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy into agreeing to a limited-hours-only march. Their rhetoric was much inflamed by recent utterances by Congress high command functionaries Vayalar Ravi and Ghulam Nabi Azad and even the chief minister himself that consensus was the only key to a solution of the separate state question, a far-fetched proposition.
“How can you say that a Telangana state can be given only if the other two regions of the state agree to it? Is it something possible now?” Deputy Chief Minister Damodara Raja Narasimha fumed at Kiran Kumar when he led a delegation of Telangana ministers to seek permission for the march.
The TJAC’s insistence on the march at this juncture stems from the fact that the Congress has not moved an inch on finding a solution to the issue, notwithstanding the claims made by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) before he left for Delhi early this month that he would return before the march with a separate state in his hand. In the three weeks that he has spent in Delhi, all that KCR has managed to do was to meet some Congress leaders. Neither Congress president Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi evinced any interest in the TRS chief’s presence in the national capital. After a few meetings over tea, lunch or dinner, KCR was reportedly informed that the Centre is in no position to hurry up a decision on Telangana, preoccupied as it is with other pressing problems. He was also reportedly told that Rahul Gandhi is not in favour of dividing Andhra Pradesh at this juncture.
Chandrasekhar Rao reportedly went to the extent of offering to merge his party with the Congress if there were a statement in favour of Telangana without even a specific time-frame. But Delhi was still not willing to take the offer. It was a shock to KCR, who had spread leaks of a positive response from the Congress high command. While he was at it, he was cold to the TJAC’s Hyderabad March, even declaring that it wasn’t going to be necessary because he had Telangana in the bag. With that not happening, and their leader being rebuffed in the national capital, his TRS troops were left to make late and peremptory statements of support to the TJAC march.