India: Telangana State Put on Hold

By Suren Rao
Suren Rao
Suren Rao
December 13, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao (second from right) along with the TRS's other three members of Parliament show their resignation letters as they enter the parliament house in New Delhi in this file photo from March 2008. Rao is in stable condition after an 11-day hunger strike to as part of a campaign for a separate of a Telangana state. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao (second from right) along with the TRS's other three members of Parliament show their resignation letters as they enter the parliament house in New Delhi in this file photo from March 2008. Rao is in stable condition after an 11-day hunger strike to as part of a campaign for a separate of a Telangana state. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)
MUMBAI, India—Two days after the central Indian government initiated the formation a separate state of Telangana, a volley of protests erupted across the state of Andhra Pradesh, all major political parties were vertically split and 134 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) of non-Telangana regions, submitted their resignations. The political crisis in Andhra Pradesh over the proposed Telangana statehood deepened on Saturday when 20 ministers resigned from the cabinet.

Ministers from Andhra and Rayalseema met in Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, and unanimously decided to fight for an integrated Andhra Pradesh. A.R. Reddy, minister for municipal administration said, “We hope that the central and the state government will take appropriate action to ensure the unity of the state.”

In a damage control effort, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured members of Parliament from the coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions that no decision “will be taken in haste.” And, Congress now says that there will be no resolution if there is no consensus.

Congress legislators in Telangana have made it clear that nothing less than a separate Telangana will be acceptable to them. "After having taken a bold step, the central government can not go back on it," said Yadav Reddy, a Congress legislator.

Spearheading the move for Telangana statehood is Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president, K. Chandrasekhar Rao who had threatened to fast-unto-death before the central government agreed to a separate Telangana state.

Andhra Pradesh was established by the central government in 1956 by merging Telangana with Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, based on their linguistic affinity, to form Andhra Pradesh. The merger was made under a Gentleman’s Agreement, under protest from Telangana which felt the agreement was biased. The ‘Gentleman’s Agreement of Andhra Pradesh’ reassured the Telangana people as well as the Andhra people of terms of power-sharing as well as administrative domicile rules and distribution of expenses of various regions. But the agreement was not followed either in spirit or in letter.

Discontent with the Gentlemen's Agreement intensified in 1969 when the agreed upon guarantees were supposed to lapse.

The movement for a separate Telangana state has been on and off for the last 50 years. It grew out of a sense of regional identity, rather than a sense of ethnic identity, language, religion, or caste. The movement demanded redress for economic grievances by writing a separate history, special consideration for a different policy on education, and the acknowledgment of cultural diversity.

Suren Rao