A Brief History of Telangana

Telangana has been backward for centuries. It never came under the British but was ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad. He did set up a few factories and a textile mill in Warangal in collaboration with the French. However, avenues of employment were few and exploitation abounded, owing to the nature of feudalism in the region.

The most crucial infrastructure element, an irrigation system, was never developed systematically in Telangana, although both the Krishna and the Godavari flowed through it. By contrast, the coastal Andhra region aggressively lobbied for and got a garland of canals that took river waters deep into the east and west Godavari Districts. The Telangana region became a stronghold of the Communist Party of India and it was here that armed struggle first came up in India.

In 1956, when Fazal Ali presented his report on the linguistic reorganisation of States, Telangana (called Hyderabad state) first refused to integrate and then negotiated long and hard on the terms on which it would become a part of Andhra Pradesh (AP). What Nehru called a ”gentleman’s agreement” was drawn up, in which Telangana would be recognised as “virtually” a separate state.

This didn’t happen and the movement for a separate state continued to simmer. Dr. M. Channa Reddy cynically fanned the flames of a separate Telangana movement in the late 1960s and 1970s that led to bloody riots but ensured a permanent stranglehold of the Congress over AP. When Sh. N T Rama Rao founded the Telugu Desam, the Congress found itself turfed out of coastal Andhra but retained its base in Telangana and Rayalaseema.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti was formed by Sh. K Chandrasekhar Rao in the winter of 2001. Rao quit as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly and resigned from the TDP. In the 2001 local body elections in AP, the TRS took off so strongly that the TDP got just 10 of the 20 Zilla Parishads. On this, the Congress quickly struck a deal with the TRS for the Lok Sabha elections. In the 2004 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, which the TRS fought in alliance with the Congress, the party bagged 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats. When it found the Congress equivocating on the issue of Telangana, the TRS broke away from the alliance.

(Excerpts of the article by Aditi Phadnis in Business Standard)

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