Sonia's legacy is the everlasting decision of Telangana statehood
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Pillalamarri Srinivas
Hyderabad: If the primary architect, visionary and driving leadership force for Telangana’s statehood is TRS founder K. Chandrashekar Rao — the fountainhead of the agitation, building support for it across that national political spectrum, and across every single segment of society within — an equally powerful ally of his, a balancing force who understood, supported and went against her own party’s interests to ensure that the legislative machine was pushed with conviction in both Houses of the Parliament for the creation of the separate state of Telangana, was Sonia Gandhi.
Then AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is not considered by many as ‘Telangana Talli’ for nothing. Her contribution, an intrepid decision to carve out a separate Telangana state at the cost of her party’s political prospects in the Andhra region of the united Andhra Pradesh, against dire warnings of leaders from Seemandhra, killed the Congress in the bifurcated AP, but ensured that the dream of four-crore Telangana people came true.
There is a strong feeling among the people that while a successful agitation and creation of momentum would have been impossible without Chandrashekar Rao, the creation of a separate state would have not been possible without Sonia Gandhi, who used her heft and political currency in Delhi, being the power centre of the Congress and the UPA, to push forth with the bifurcation.
One of the most emotive and picturesque and prismatic moments of the agitation, and highly unusual too, was when Sonia Gandhi was seen holding a Bathukamma, as a mark of her respect towards Telangana’s distinct and rich culture.
In her speeches, Sonia Gandhi would endearingly often quote late prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and talk of their love towards the people of Telangana. She even expressed her anxiety and concern over incidents of students of universities and others dying by suicide or self-immolation in support of the Telangana agitation.
Chandrashekar Rao, himself, was all praise for Sonia Gandhi, and her contribution to the creation of the Telangana state. He went on record during a state Assembly session saying that one need not hesitate to recognise Sonia Gandhi’s contribution to the formation of Telangana.
Addressing a massive public meeting in Karimnagar in 2004, Sonia Gandhi said the Congress respected the "sentiments of people of Telangana".
She said: "Telangana ki jazbat per ehsas hai, aur hum log iski kadar karthe hain. Telangana ke logonki umeede poore karne ke liye hum log koshish karenge (we are aware of the sentiments of the people of Telangana, and we respect them. We will strive hard to ensure we fulfil the dreams of Telangana people)."
Sonia Gandhi lived up to her promise to the people of Telangana and carved out a state despite facing severe political hardships.
Many political leaders consider her decision to create a separate state as a bold one, terming her a rare leader at the Centre who did go back on her promise and did not cheat the Telangana people.
The then AICC general secretary and party incharge Digvijaya Singh had released an anthology of poems in English, titled Posy of Thanksgiving to Mother Sonia written by eminent poet Dr Damera Ramulu of Nirmal district in Delhi in 2014.
Digvijaya Singh summed it up aptly, saying, "Respecting the aspirations of people and ensuring Telangana was Congress policy."
The poet Damera Ramulu, who played an active role in the statehood agitation, said that without the contribution of Sonia Gandhi, Telangana statehood would have not been achieved.
"Sonia Gandhi made an appeal to agitating youth and students not to resort to suicides, since her party was seriously considering their demand," Ramulu recalled.
In short, never did millions of people, more sincerely, and more lovingly, call anyone mother. For Telangana, she was.