DC Edit | A battle of narratives as Telangana state turns 8

The TRS promises to protect the plural tradition of happy cohabitation of the Hindu-Muslim brotherhood

Eight years on, very interesting narratives and counter-narratives are being attempted to be set for Telangana, the youngest state of India. Unlike Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand formed in November 2000, Telangana retained the powerful economic engine and mega-city of Hyderabad, and had a surplus budget. On cue with the oft-used moniker of a start-up, it was more a high pedigree unicorn on the day of its birth.

The TRS narrative, since its inception, has consistently held that the exploitation and injustices meted out to Telangana region, its people and culture, had to be ended by the creation of a separate state. Besides the political and economic deprivation, the constant attack on the self-respect of the people, of a part that had seen great heights in the past before it was merged with Andhra to create India’s first “linguistic state”, was unconscionable.

The state’s first chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao led one of Independent India’s most fascinating political struggles to give the people of Telangana their most cherished dream, and almost immediately set the course for its development, promising to make it “Bangaru” (golden) Telangana.

The future of the state and of its people was locked with the most popular slogan of collective aspiration — neellu, nidhulu, niyamakalu (water, resources and jobs) for everyone. It continues to be the narrative of KCR that Telangana can achieve these aspirations only under his rule and that the onslaught against Telangana continues even now; this time, the culprit is not Andhra exploiters and rulers but the Central government led by Narendra Modi and the BJP.

The TRS promises to protect the plural tradition of happy cohabitation of the Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, with secular credentials as the only recipe for the betterment of Telangana.

In stark contrast, Amit Shah led the BJP in setting a historical context of when the Hyderabad state, under the Nizam, had designs of being either a separate nation or become a tributary under the suzerainty of Pakistan.

Mr Shah sets the start of Hyderabad’s journey with Operation Polo, when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel saved the region from disaster, ensuring it was a part of India. By not celebrating the Liberation Day, the BJP argues, the current dispensation is appeasing Razakar tendencies, who, they allege, possibly still view the merger with India as a negative.

Added to it, the BJP forwards its “party with a difference” argument, set against family-ruled corrupt parties, and pitches how the truest aspirations of the region are best trusted for fructification in the able hands of the saffron party.

The Congress, which calls the creation of Telangana a gift from Sonia Gandhi, has pitched its own brand of past good governance, with great focus on free education and healthcare for all, as the mantra for seeking the mandate in the next polls.

It would be interesting to see the arguments unfold over the next 18 months, as each side portrays itself as the sole trustworthy party the people must repose faith upon along these fault lines. But the battle promises to be interesting, because it is not just for the heart or mind, but the very soul of the newest state of India, one that came to exist because of its people’s indomitable will and action.

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