People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 37

September 21 , 2008


Telangana People’s Struggle and ‘Police Action’

Telakapalli Ravi

DISTORTING people’s history that is not too distant, is an old game of ruling classes and opportunists of various hues. People of Andhra Pradesh are once again witnessing this age old adage repeating itself in its most bizzarre form on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of ‘Police Action’ marking the entry of the Indian army against the erstwhile princely state of Nizam that took place between September 13-18, 1948. It took place in the backdrop of the glorious armed struggle of the heroic Telangana masses and Telugu people as a whole led by the Vishalandhra Communist committee.

While the so called police action is somewhat of an anticlimax to the struggle enacted by the then Congress rulers, the struggle itself appears in 70 MM on the great screen of history. But all the ruling parties conveniently ignore that part or pay just lip sympathy and try to use the police action to further their ulterior stratagem.

The BJP leadership which has nothing to do with the struggle here or any where in India against the feudal lords is up in arms to hail the so-called liberation. (The Arya samaj in the Nizam state concentrated on reconversion like things and never took up the cause of people.) The intentions are clear. The Nizam being a Muslim, his fall is a cause to be celebrated and nothing more. The party which is a rallying point of many a princely families has no compunction in shedding tears on the overthrow of Royalty in neighbouring Nepal very recently. Even on the eve of independence, the Sangh parivar took diametrically opposite stand on Kashmir and Hyderabad. While the National conference led by Sheik Abdullah stood for integration of Kashmir with rest of India, these very forces supported its independent status just because the ruler there was Hindu. The logic turned upside down in Hyderabad before the same communal reasons. Particularly from 1998, BJP’s over kill on this is quite repulsive. That year L K Advani came all the way from Delhi to participate in the rally. (Incidentally they fancifully call him present day Sardar Patel and it is the original Sardar who headed the police action as the then Home minister.) Then on, it has become a regular ritual for the saffron party as one more occasion for minority bashing. To present Telangana struggle as a pure Hindu phenomena against the Muslims is a great insult to the truth. Bandagi who initiated the first legal fight against Nizam and was killed himself was a Muslim. Popular poet Makdum was one of the signatories to the call for armed struggle. Valiant journalist Sahebullah Khan was killed by the minions of Nizam. Not to speak of many common villagers from Muslim community, these well known instances rebuff the communal ploys of the BJP. The political isolation of the BJP in the state and rejection of it by the Telangana people in recent by-elections even after its somersaults on the demand for separate Telangana is causing jitters to the party and hence this over action.

On the other side of the spectrum is the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, a party supposed to monopolise the word Telangana. Since inception its leader K Chandra Sekhara Rao never effectively highlighted or owned the legacy of Telangana except for occasional references. Even the earlier movements for separate state were led by the very same feudal elements and KCR is no exception. His penchant for anti communist histrionics in the earlier phase brought trenchant criticism from leaders of the Left. But what shocked everybody was his bowing before the tomb of Nizam on his anniversary and hailing him as a visionary ruler. Despite instant and intensive criticism from various quarters, he continued to defend the stance. In an intense debate on a news channel with the present writer, KCR had to admit that Nizam’s misdeeds overshadowed his few administrative measures. But even now, a section of intelligentsia continues to glorify him like any thing. While Nizam who gave large parts of the state in different periods to British rulers is hailed like this, the people living in other parts of the state who were split by him are shown as enemies in the name of migrants. In fact, Telangana struggle was not in any way confined to the people from that region alone. The political atmosphere outside infused with freedom struggle and fledgling communist movement influenced it immensly. Armed training was also conducted in neighbouring districts. Hundreds of comrades from other districts laid down their lives alongside Telangana martyrs. While Telangana struggle paved the way for the reorganisation and formation of linguistic states, these elements use the very same for their parochial politics. Then there are ‘Maoists’ who denigrate the great contribution made by the communist party during this struggle and join the chorus with their own rhetoric. In the end, all these trends lead to distorting the spirit of Telangana.

Of the two major ruling parties, TDP is in a dilemma over its stance on Telangana. Same is the case with newly formed Prajarajyam led by actor turned politician Chiranjeevi. But what is still worse is with the Congress party, the perpetuator of all the inhuman repression on the Telangana struggle and the rehabilitator of those hated landlords. In the later period, it is this party that is mainly responsible for neglecting the region and also fanning the tensions between people of various regions of the state. In the last election, it made use of the Telangana card and later discarded. Now on the eve of elections, it is again chanting the same that Sonia will make the announcement soon.

Amidst all this, the CPI(M) is the one political party which has a clear cut stand on Telangana and its history. Notwithstanding some major differences on issues of the past as well as present concerning Telengana, the CPI(M) and CPI commemorated the Telangana armed struggle in a befitting way against many distortions dwelt above. It is this spirit that assures a right and bright path for the people of state.

Above all, Telangana is synonymous with struggle for land. Dunnevanike Bhoomi (Land to the Tiller) was its everlasting slogan. Mudigonda firing which took seven lives last year during the course of land struggle is also one of the centers of Telangana armed struggle and reminded the unfinished agenda of land. While the state government headed by Rajasekhara Reddy is giving away thousands of acres of land to millionaires, thousands of landless are waging a fight for land even today. The militant and massive land struggles by both the communist parties in recent times are a fitting tribute to the saga of Telangana, but not the misguided interpretations.