HYDERABAD: Will Telangana protagonist and former Union minister K Chandrasekhar Rao become another ‘Raju guide’? This is the speculation doing the rounds of Hyderabad ever since the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) boss was rushed to the intensive cardiothoracic care unit of the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) early Saturday morning. On the seventh day of his fast, KCR, who has been under arrest at NIMS for the last few days, was sent to the ICCU after doctors found that his heart condition was deteriorating. NIMS is, however, yet to issue an official medical bulletin on his health.
Old-timers will remember the superhit film ‘Guide’ of the 1960s, in which Dev Anand, who plays Raju guide, disappears after serving a jail term for forgery. Raju surfaces in a village, where he is mistaken for a holy man. The villagers shower so much love on him that when there is no rain one year, Raju cannot say no to their request to undertake a fast for rains. In the end, the sky opens up but Raju has died of starvation.
“KCR is no Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi could undertake fasts often because of the discipline in his life and the continual padyatras he would undertake. So six days may not be too long but it has potential to hit the physical condition of KCR very badly,” said a veteran politician who knows the TRS boss closely but does not want to be identified. KCR is suffering from a host of diseases including diabetes, blood pressure and damaged liver. A medical bulletin issued by NIMS on Friday late evening had described KCR’s health as stable, but had said that his urine reports showed signs of ‘starvation’. Sources aver that KCR may have entered the danger zone on Saturday morning.
For those who came in late, KCR is not on a full fast. He is being ‘forcibly’ administered saline by the hospital authorities. Sources claim that not used to a frugal lifestyle, KCR was looking for a way out of the fast till Friday. “He would be ready to break the fast if he gets some promise from the Union government regarding Telangana or an invitation from Sonia Gandhi for talks. But if KCR gives up his fast without any ray of hope held out by the Centre, the chances of his being lynched by students who form the bulk of the Telangana movement,” said one analyst familiar with the Telangana movement. “KCR is aware of this and the latest is that he has reconciled to the fast, whatever may happen to him. The Union government is yet to respond to his fast. But after hearing that his health condition was deteriorating on Saturday the students have appealed to him to give up his fast and asked the central government to come up with a concrete promise for Telangana. Failing this, the movement will take a violent turn, they have warned.
Possibly unable to carry on his fast beyond a day, KCR had accepted a glass of fruit juice and drunk it on November 30. But if images of him with a juice glass in hand had infuriated his followers so much that the TRS boss was forced to issue a statement that he had not given up the strike and the plantation of this false piece of information was the handiwork of government agencies. KCR was supposed to have started his hunger strike at Siddipet, 130 km from Hyderabad on November 29. But even as he was driving to the place, police swooped on him and shifted him to Khammam sub-jail, 220 km from Hyderabad. The fast started in the jail. Three days later, his conditions deteriorating, KCR was airlifted to NIMS in order to ensure proper medical attention.
Meanwhile, there have been demonstrations on the campuses of various universities in Telangana including in Osmania University (OU) in Hyderabad, which is at the centre of the Telangana region. In the last few days there have been four suicides and three shock deaths including a case of a young man who immolated himself for the cause if a separate state. Even as the universities in the region have been shut down for a fortnight, students are putting pressure on MPs and ministers from this region to take up the Telangana cause and burning their effigies to goad them further. Union minister Jaipal Reddy is one such person whose effigy has been burnt. Faced with this situation, 11 Congress MPs from the Telangana region are meeting Sonia Gandhi to take a view on the creation of a separate state of Telangana.
The matter has been pending since 2004, when the Congress swept to power in the state in combination with the TRS on the promise of Telangana. But once in power, the Congress reneged primarily at the instance of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who was strongly opposed to the proposition. This forced KCR to walk out of his alliance with the Congress in the state and resign his position in the Union Cabinet, but he could not progress further. This was partly due to his own weak will and unwillingness to zealously work for the cause. On the other hand, Rajasekhara Reddy broke the backbone of the TRS by producing evidence that many of the party MLAs were involved in human trafficking. Reddy also kept Congress leaders who pitched for Telangana at bay by successfully selling the line at the Centre that Telangana, once created, would become a breeding ground for Maoists, who his government had driven away to neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
It is no coincidence that the movement for Telangana has intensified shortly after the unfortunate demise of Rajasekhara Reddy. “Reddy was strongly opposed to the creation of Telangana; the new chief minister is too weak to take a stand. Sonia has to take a view. She was held back by Reddy. But she is not against Telangana in principle,” said a senior Congress leader who has been in touch with the Congress boss on this subject.
However, reports suggest that national security advisor M K Narayanan called on Andhra Pradesh chief minister K Rosaiah in Delhi early this week and told him that the chances of Maoists infiltrating the Telangana movement were quite high. The Telangana agitators, knowing that the ruse of left infiltration would be used to justify strong-arm police action against them, have started making a conscious effort to keep the agitation largely violence-free and peaceful.
Telangana incorporates those parts of the former Nizam’s dominions that are not in present-day Karanataka and Maharashtra and were merged with the Andhra districts of former Madras state to create Andhra Pradesh in 1956. This was on the recommendations of the Fazal Ali Committee, which suggested that how well the integration had worked should be examined after 10 years. In 1969, a major movement for Telangana was launched from the Osmania University campus that left 300 dead, but the new state was not created. After a lull of nearly three decades, the TRS was formed in 1996 with the express purpose of forcing the creation of Telangana.
Fifty-three years after the creation of Andhra Pradesh, culturally the people of the two regions remain distinct in terms of food habits, festivals, music and literature, Though in recent years there have been mixed marriages, the people of Telangana feel that they have been swamped by Andhra settlers who have exploited their region and used the surplus generated to develop the Andhra region. But the people of the two regions are united by the fact of their speaking the same Telugu language.