While Home Minister P. Chidambaram was reminded of his December 2009 statement that said, "The Centre would initiate the process for the formation of a separate Telangana state," his recent remark, "We hope that the process of consultations will show us the path to reach a conclusion," added fuel to fire.
Even while it surprised many, the sudden demand for the creation of Telangana from Petroleum Minister and senior Congress leader from Andhra Pradesh Jaipal Reddy sent shock waves. The bone of contention in the Congress circles is Reddy's now disclosed ambition of becoming the chief minister of Telangana.
While the party is struggling to save face, veteran Congress leader from Araku constituency in Andhra Pradesh and Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj, Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Deo, speaks to Gulf News in an exclusive interview.
GULF NEWS: After four decades of wait, is there still a question of ‘if' or only ‘when' the formation of Telangana will happen?
V. KISHORE CHANDRA DEO: The answer to it is not that simple. The architect of this entire movement, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, chief of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), probably started it all to get political mileage. It's not proper to ignite the emotions and sentiments of people just to find a political place for yourself. A significant factor of this issue is that it has existed only in certain university campuses in Andhra Pradesh.
You mean there is no requirement as such and the issue is being raised only to usurp political power?
Yes, for political power and to satiate the political ambitions of some individuals.
There should be a national debate on the issue. I feel it's basically a fight for Hyderabad and its surroundings. Ever since Hyderabad developed its infrastructure and huge investments came in, there has been a boost in the real estate value in and around the city. And the fight now is to gain control over that. It's important to know that people of Hyderabad do not want to be part of that Telangana. That's why many political leaders of both Hyderabad and Secunderabad have not joined the demand for a separate state.
Since many Congress party leaders also resigned recently, you mean to say they were instigated by your own party leader(s) to do so?
I don't have first-hand information on this, but I don't rule it out.
But even after over 100 resignations of MPs and MLAs, the Centre seems unperturbed. Isn't your party concerned about further agitation?
Resignations are not the way to get demands fulfilled. It's political blackmail.
What are the serious differences that have cropped up among the Congress leaders over the Telangana issue?
Most of the Congress leaders who have resigned are from that region, but there are many more who have not resigned. A lot of them were coerced to resign and did so for fear of being isolated.
Isn't it true that MPs are pressing for the demand also because, as many say, including your own party member Madhu Yakshi Goud, that they are unable to visit their constituencies because of the agitation?
Madhu Yakshi has been at the forefront of the movement. He might say this, but others have a different take on the matter, especially those who come from rural areas.
Being confronted at Hyderabad is one thing, but in the interior parts it is quite different. I don't think this problem of agitation is there at all.
Major parties, including Congress, Telugu Desam and Praja Rajyam Party had supported the formation of Telangana. What made them take a U-turn after the elections?
Even before the elections, then main opposition party Telugu Desam, was not in favour of Telangana, except some of its leaders from that region. Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam, which has merged with the Congress, was also not in its favour. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) has categorically said no to Telangana. The Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been dilly-dallying as for them it's more of a compulsion. And to take this kind of a stand is easy when you are not in power. That leaves only TRS and some leaders from the Congress.
Is the Congress apprehensive that the formation of Telangana will help the BJP, which is trying to expand its base in the south?
The BJP hardly has any presence in Andhra Pradesh. The few seats it managed to win at one time was due to political affiliation with Telugu Desam.
But since they have not been able to make any base on their own, that's not the worry for our party.
As a Congress leader, are you for or against Telangana?
I have no issues if Telangana is formed or not. I am not against smaller states. But it can't be done on an isolated basis. Different parts in the country have different demands and these kinds of threats are going to result in disintegration of virtually all states on some pretext.
You mean that demands for Jharkhand and Uttarakhand were genuine, whereas in the case of Telangana it is not?
This is not the way other states were conceded. There was an agreement among people to whom it concerned.
The feelings of people, especially from Hyderabad, who do not wish to align with Telangana, need to be taken into consideration.
I am, in fact, for smaller states because they are better for development. But then that applies to many other states as well, including Uttar Pradesh (UP), which is probably larger than most European countries. So, if at all any state needs to be bifurcated for the sake of development, it should first be UP.
What in your opinion is the correct manner to demand formation of a separate state?
Dialogue. Discussion. One has to put in views rationally.
For this, economic experts need to study the implications, the allocation of funds and understand what really are the issues of the people. Only then one can negotiate. These issues cannot be decided on the streets.
What impact has ‘cooking on the streets' made?
These kinds of gimmicks do not serve any purpose. It does not convey any message. They are just trying to involve people to rake up emotions.
- Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Deo was born on February 15, 1947, to Sobhalata Debi and Durgaprasad Deo.
- Graduated in Economics and obtained Master's in Political Science from Chennai Christian College in Tamil Nadu.
- Elected to the Lok Sabha on Congress ticket in 1977.
- Federal Minister of State, Ministry of Steel, Mines and Coal in 1979.
- Re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and 1984.
- Member of Rajya Sabha in 1994.
- Elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and 2009.
- Representing the Araku constituency in Andhra Pradesh, he has served on numerous parliamentary committees.
- He has authored Changing India's Political Mould, a book on electoral and federal reforms in India.