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First Linguistic State:ANDHRA’S SUCCESS STORY,by T.D. Jagadesan, 8 June 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 8 June 2006

First Linguistic State


By T.D. Jagadesan

Andhra Pradesh has come a long way in the last 50 years. The first State to be constituted on the basis of language in the country on November 1, 1956, has witnessed political stability, except during the two separatist agitations that rocked Telangana in 1969-71 and Costal Andhra in 1972-73. The one-party rule of the Congress was successfully challenged by matinee idol N.T. Rama Rao, who founded the Telugu Desam (TD) and gave the State its first non-Congress Government in 1983.  Now, the State has a two-party system in place with the Congress and TD being the main claimants to power.

For more than 27 centuries, the Telugu-speaking people lived together under various dynasties till the formation of the State Telugus lived apart in various regions under different dispensations.  Till India achieved freedom in 1947, Telugu-speaking areas of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema were administered by the British and Telangana and adjoining regions formed part of the erstwhile Nizam’s State.

After Potti Sreeramulu sat on a fast for 58 days and sacrificed his life in 1952, a separate Andhra State was carved out of the composite Madras State in 1953.  It comprised coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions with Kurnool as its capital.  In the meantime, following in Police (military) Action against the erstwhile Nizam State, Hyderabad became part of independent India in September 1948.  Hyderabad state consisted of Telangana, Marathwada and the Hyderabad-Karnataka region with Hyderabad as its capital.

With the formation of Andhra State, the movement for Visalandhra (Greater Telugu state) gained momentum, leading to the appointment of the first States Reorganisation Commission (SRC).  Based on the recommendations of the SRC, Andhra Pradesh was formed with the merger of the Andhra state with Telugu-speaking areas (Telangana) of Hyderabad State.  Hyderabad was chosen as the capital. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy became the first Chief Minister of the new State.

Much before the popular governments were installed in Andhra and Hyderabad states and later In A.P., the Congress was riddled with groupism and casteism. Factional rivalries and ego clashes of its leaders dominated the politics of the State.  Many short-lived political parties such as Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party and Krishikar Lok Party were floated in the 1950s by dissident Congressmen.

In the 1960s, disgruntled Congressmen joined other parties such as Swatantra Party, Praja Socialist Party and Samyukta Socialist Party.  Similarly, in the 1970s, dissatisfied Congress leaders jumped onto the Congress (O) or Janata Party bandwagons.  The Communist remained the main opposition to the Congress in 1950s and early 1960s and the Swatantra Party for a brief while in the late 1960s.

Though the 1969 split in the Congress did not have much impact, with a majority of Congressmen throwing their lot with Indira Gandhi, the post-Emergency era saw a number of prominent Congress leaders joining the Janta Party.  Jalagam Vengal Rao, who served as Chief Minister during 1973-78 with the solid backing of Indira Gandhi, however, sided with those turned against her following her debacle in 1977 Lok Sabha poll. Seizing the opportunity, Dr. Channa Reddy headed the Indira Congress and led the nascent party to power in 1978.  Vengal Rao had to bite the dust and the Janta Party’s attempt to grab power in A.P. failed.

Both the Janta Party and the Congress (Socialist) were marginalized within no time when many of the 90 MLAs belonging to these two parties defected back to the Congress to claim crumbs of power from Dr. Channa Reddy and T. Anjaiah. The f requent change of Chief Ministers due to the highhandedness of the Congress High Command prompted NTR to capitalize on the situation by plunging into politics and launching the TD in March, 1982.  K. Vijayabhaskar Reddy, who was brought in to checkmate NTR, could not stop the TD hurricane from sweeping through the State in the 1983 Assembly polls.

The Congress had to pay dearly for extending support to former Congressman Nadendla Bhaskar Rao, who toppled NTR as the Chief Minister for 30 days in 1984.  Indira Gandhi had no choice but to re-instal NTR in the Chief Ministers’s seat.  NTR took his revenge by ensuring a one-to-one fight against the Congress in 1984 Lok Sabha polls and dissolving the Assembly and calling for fresh elections.  The Congress suffered badly in the 1985 polls.  But NTR met his waterloo in the 1989 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls with Dr. Channa Reddy leading the Congress onslaught against him.

Once again, the change of Chief Ministers afforded the opportunity to NTR to wrest power from the Congress.  Incidentally, for the second time, it was Vijayabhaskar Reddy who handed back power to NTR.  But NTR could not retain his seat for long because his ambitious second wife Lakhsmi Parvati turned out to be his Achilles’ heel.  His own son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu led the revolt against him.

After his longest innings as the Chief Minister, Naidu suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2004 Assembly polls.  The Congress stormed into power with Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy as the Chief Minister. Thus, the State’s politics over the last 23 years has revolved around a two-party system with Congress and TD being the contenders for power. Parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the two Left parties, which nurtured ambitions of emerging as a third alternative, had to align with one of the major players for survival.

Despite intense dissident activity that characterized the reign of Congress Chief Ministers, the State has enjoyed relative political stability, compared to many other States. In all, 14 Chief Ministers have ruled the State over the last five decades, including 11 from the Congress and three from the TD.  Apart from NTR, three other Chief Ministers Sanjiva Reddy, Channa Reddy and Vijayabhaskar Reddy served in two spells.  Bhaskar Rao and Bhavanam Venkatram had brief tenures of one month and seven months respectively.

In the last 50 years, the State came under President’s rule only once, that too for a short spell of 11 months.  In the wake of the separate Andhra agitation in 1972-73, which took a violent turn during P.V. Narasimha Rao’s tenure as the Chief Minister, President’s rule was imposed in the State in January, 1973 but it was revoked before the year end, with the installation of a popular Government headed by Vengala Rao. Incidentally, the State survived two separatist agitations – one for Telangana State and another for Andhra State.  Disgruntled Congressmen with the support of other parties, led both the agitations. 

On both occasions, the dissident Congressmen made peace with the party High Command by calling off the agitations in exchange for the loaves of office. A six-point formula was evolved in 1973 to protect the interests of the people of the three regions of the State after the separatist agitations. However, like the Gentleman’s agreement between the leaders from Andhra and Telangana before the formation of A.P. in 1956, the six-point formula has met a similar fate over the last three decades.

This has caused consternation among a section of people in Telangana, prompting dissident TD leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao to float Telangana Rashtra Samiti to spearhead the movement for separate Telangana once again.  It looks like A.P. will come out unscathed from Rao’s attempt to carve out the Telangana State.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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