People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 02

January 10, 2010

ANDHRA PRADESH

 

CPI(M) Stand Driven by Principle

 

Thammineni Veerabhadram

 

FOR the last one month, the state of Andhra Pradesh has been reeling under the impact of agitations for separate Telangana and integrated Andhra Pradesh. Apart from the issue of whether the state remains unified or divided, it is unfortunate that the people are divided vertically on this issue. The political parties in the state are each adopting differing stands.

As the CPI(M) has made it clear right from the beginning,  it remains committed to its stand in favour of linguistic states and believes that the development of Telangana is possible only in a unified state of Andhra Pradesh. The Party cadre in different regions have stood united with this stand, which is a matter of pride.

It is not just some political leaders who are seeking a separate state of Telangana, but a large section of common people also are strongly in favour of this. This is a fact. In a democracy, should political parties not follow people's wishes? Why dont you also demand a separate Telangana in line with people's wishes? These are the questions being posed to the Party by some people. It has been proved beyond doubt that the CPI(M) is not only committed to democracy in theory but also in practice. But in this context, it should be stated that many people are making a mistake in interpreting the word ‘democracy’ itself.

Let us keep aside the issue of whether all people in Telangana region are seeking a separate state or only a few. For argument sake, even if we take that all people are in favour of a separate state, it is not correct to say that democracy means that political parties should change their stance accordingly. Communists would do everything that is in the interest of the people, but they do not do everything that people want. Sometimes, lacking a long term perspective, people may believe ‘things’ to be ‘good’ for them which are actually inimical to their interest. People have been electing Congress party despite of its anti people policies, and just because of this fact, it would be wrong to ask CPI(M) to certify the anti-people rule of Congress. However, since majority of people have voted for that party, we need to respect the verdict of the people. Similarly, whatever the stand of the CPI(M) on separate Telangana, if the government decides to form it, that will become a reality.

Therefore, we have been insisting that the process of consultations must begin. It is by taking the opinions of people and all political parties would it be possible to emerge out of this crisis with minimum damage. The CPI(M) wants both the centre and the state government to initiate this dialogue immediately and thus pave way for restoration of normality in the state.

All political parties in the state are 'actively' involved in agitations on the one hand in Telangana and on the other in both Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Many are asking why does not the CPI(M) also actively participate in these agitations, particularly in the agitation for integrated state, a demand which is in line with the Party’s stance. The CPI(M) is of the firm opinion that no action should be taken which harms the unity of the people. Therefore it is our policy that a solution must be found on the basis of talks and there should not be any movements on any ‘slogan’. It may be surprising for many that a party based on struggles  like CPI(M) is taking a position against this movement. There is no doubt that CPI(M) is a movements based party. But the movement should be against the exploiters and their exploitation. It would never support movements that pit people against people. When differences arose among dalits in the state and rival movements arose, CPI(M) did not support them.

Those presently carrying on these agitations in the state are acting opportunistically. The opportunism of the Congress party in particular, which is ruling both at the centre and in the state, is reaching its peak. Its ministers from Telangana region resign for the sake of Telangana while its MPs from other regions resign for an integrated state. The party doesn't pull up anyone. On an issue which is shaking the foundations of the state, Congress appears more interested in strategising rather than making its stand clear officially. Everyone claims that their leader Sonia Gandhi has said this or something totally contrary to that. But she herself never utters any word. Why dont those who celebrated after the December 9 statement of the home minister, seek action against those who waged a counter agitation against that decision? Or, why dont the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema leaders seek action against Telangana ministers who quit after the December 23 statement of home minister making amends to his earlier statement?

It is not just Congress that is resorting to such opportunism. Others are no less in this regard. We are witnessing leaders taking stance region-wise and still declaring that their bosses remain the same. This is nothing but under-estimating the consciousness of the people, or more correctly insulting the people. What is more absurd is that these very parties’ leaders holding a dharna demanding the resignation of CPI(M) MLA on this issue! Do we take that they are demanding that the CPI(M) also must join them in this opportunism?

Telangana is under-developed and one of the reasons for this is the bias of the rulers. But the main reasons are the feudal rule in this region before Independence as also the present capitalist path of development. In this exploitative mode of development, seeking people's upliftment is a tough task. But it is essential to keep raising the issue of developing backward areas and bringing pressure on the governments for doing so. That is why the CPI(M) has been forcefully raising its voice on issues relating to development of Telangana region with the government in various fora at different times.

It is the Communists who fought for the formation of linguistic states in the country and Andhra Pradesh came into being thus. By remaining committed to linguistic states, the CPI(M) is upholding that legacy. The CPI(M) has not taken this stance due to sentiment, but out of the necessity of upholding the unity of people in struggles. During British rule, people of various nationalities were scattered in various regions. Communists have been demanding that people speaking one language must be brought together in one state and accordingly reorganisation of states must be done. Why was this demand raised? In order to rouse the fighting spirit of people, it is necessary for people speaking same language to remain as a unit. It is possible to rouse and enthuse them through language.

That is why those seeking to bring people into struggles would seek people's unity. During freedom struggle, the Congress party also sought this. It passed a resolution in the 1920 Nagpur session seeking formation of linguistic states. Since then only, it also organised its units on linguistic basis. This was necessary for the Congress party to play a major role in the freedom movement. In contrast, those who are rulers would always seek to keep people divided. The British too did the same then.

However, post-independence, the Congress party made a U-turn on the linguistic states and opposed them. It was not surprising. When it was a party leading the freedom movement, it sought unity of people through linguistic states. And when it became a ruling party, it wanted the divisions among people to continue. Only after various struggles were conducted through out the country for formation of linguistic states, was the Fazal Ali Commission formed and reorganisation of states done. For people and parties fighting against exploitation, people's unity through linguistic basis is essential even today. Similarly those who seek to perpetuate exploitation prefer people to be divided. The opportunism and flip-flops of the ruling bourgeois parties on this issue of division of state have to be seen in this context.

The big bourgeoise feels that smaller states are useful in carrying on their exploitation without hindrance. If strong states are weakened in this manner, the centre would become all powerful. For the multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-national people of India, a federal system is essential for their development. Along with the centre, the states must also be strong. Only then will plans be made for development of states as per their requirements. But during the long Congress rule in the country, the powers of states have been gradually eroded and reduced to even the level of municipalities!

In such a situation, we must note that if states are further reduced in size, the domination of centre would increase manifold. Moreover, this will not stop with just Telangana. After the December 9 announcement of home minister, similar demands and agitations arose for creation of 15 more states from various parts of the country. The dangerous game being played by the ruling classes is apparent from this.

The galloping prices of essential commodities are ruining the lives of common people. Lakhs of people who got BPL ration cards before the elections are being denied ration in the name of weeding out bogus cards. Despite scrutiny of new applications for grant of ration cards was completed, they are not being given cards. Due to increased prices, more than a crore of people have joined the ranks of below poverty line population. Despite such a grim scenario, the governments, both at centre and the state, are doing nothing to tackle the situation. The promises made by the previous chief minister, late YSR before the elections are being ignored. In fact, it appears there is no government in the state. Majority of the political parties are busy in politicking. At least now the government must take steps to mitigate the sufferings of people.

Although on the outside it appears that the bourgeois political parties in the state are a worried lot unable to find a solution to the problem of division of state, but in actuality they would be gleeful internally at the prospect of people remaining divided and lack of united opposition to their exploitative World Bank dictated policies.