People's Democracy

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


No. 02

January 10, 2010




Carry Forward Consultation Process


FINALLY, the central government has started the consultation process on the question of Telangana and the future of the state of Andhra Pradesh.  This has come very belatedly.  Instead of making a unilateral statement earlier, if the central government had initiated such a process to begin with, then, perhaps, the large-scale disturbances and disruption of normalcy in the state could have been avoided. 

The unilateral announcement made by the union home minister in the late hours of the night of December 9, 2009, bypassing the parliament which was in session, threw the state into convulsions. This wrong handling of the situation contributed to confusion and aggravated the situation, escalating tensions and confrontation amongst different sections of the people in the state. 

The Congress party's prevarication on the issue of separate Telangana is nothing new.  Four decades ago after a violent agitation that saw large-scale loss of property with over 300 lives lost in police firing, an agreement was reached for ensuring the development of the Telangana region and eliminating its relative economic backwardness.  In fact, the constitution was amended by adding Article 371 D, "Special provisions with respect to the state of Andhra Pradesh" which, amongst others, provided that the  President "may by order.....provide .....for equitable opportunities and facilities  for the people belonging  to different parts of the State, in the matter of public employment and in the matter of education, and different provisions may be made for various parts of the State". 

The history of the last four decades is witness to the fact that all promises and assurances made to the people of Telangana to eliminate their relative backwardness were, by and large, betrayed. It is this simmering discontent  that feeds the periodic bursts for the creation of a separate state for Telangana.  It is the Congress party, leading the governments both at the centre and in the state, for long periods during these four decades that is primarily responsible  for not  redeeming the assurances made to the people. 

Historically, it must be recollected  that the Telugu-speaking people  fired the first salvo, after independence, for a linguistic reorganisation of the states.  The martyrdom of Potti Sriramulu, galvanised the movement for Vishalandhra. This soon found a reverberation in the movements of Aikya Kerala and Samyukta Maharashtra.  It was the strength of these massive popular struggles that eventually led to the linguistic reorganisation of the Indian State after the integration of the princely States into independent India. 

The CPI(M) has all along maintained that this principle of linguistic reorganisation of the states should not be disturbed.  In the recent period, three new states of Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh were carved out from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, areas that, strictly, were not part of the linguistic reorganisation.

The central government's unilateral announcement and the subsequent mishandling of the situation by both the central government and the state governments led by the Congress party has now given rise  to a large number of demands from various parts of the country for the formation of separate states.  This has serious consequences not only for  the federal content and structure of the Indian constitution but also in unleashing potentially disruptive  tensions in the country.

In this background, it is absolutely imperative that this process of consultations started by the central government, initially with eight major political parties from Andhra Pradesh on the question of Telangana,  must be continued in right earnest.  It is necessary for the central government to engage in wide consultations with all political parties and other organisations and groups. It is only through such a process that a solution can be found on this sensitive issue.

While this process is on, it is of utmost need that people must maintain peace and tranquility and shun the proclivity to succumb to provocation.  At the same time, it is the responsibility of the central and the state governments headed by the Congress party to maintain peace and normalcy while carrying forward the process of consultation.

(January 6, 2010)