By N Venugopal – HYDERABAD
Published: 22nd October 2013 08:32 AM
Last Updated: 22nd October 2013 08:32 AM
‘No Legal, Constitutional Basis for Creation of Telangana State’ (NIE, Oct 19, 2013) by DA Somayajulu is full of lies, half-truths and distortions. One would only like to prescribe a complete reading list, including the Constitution of India, Report of the States Reorganisation Commission and hundreds of books on history and politics of Telangana, to the author who has little knowledge on these matters. However, I would restrict myself to point out a few blunders dished out by him.
First of all, Andhra Pradesh was formed not on the recommendation of the SRC as he thinks. The SRC recommended that the Telugu districts of the erstwhile Nizam’s State be made a separate state to be known as Hyderabad. The SRC added that Hyderabad legislature might consider its merger with Andhra State six years later. Hyderabad’s political class was duped with a fake Gentlemen’s Agreement, implemented more in violation, to merge with Andhra immediately.
Second, Andhra Pradesh was not the first linguistic State in India. Orissa was formed in 1936 by the British government predominantly on the basis of language.
Third, though the Congress was in favour of linguistic states since 1920 and reiterated the stance as late as 1945-46, it changed its position after 1947 and the shift is visible in SK Dar Committee (1948), JVP Committee (1949), Wanchoo Committee (1953) and finally, the SRC (1953-55). In fact, in the five parameters given by Dar Committee, language was not even mentioned. The fallacy of the so-called linguistic states is quite palpable in the case of at least seven states whose official language is Hindi.
Another glaring example of violation of linguistic principle is the case of Puducherry where people of three languages, living in far off places separated by hundreds of kilometres, were put under one administration–a UT with partial statehood.
Fourth, contrary to the author’s assertion that there was nothing unusual about Telangana-Andhra merger, the most important distinguishing factor was that it was a conditional merger. The conditions were categorically enumerated in the Gentlemen’s Agreement signed on February 20, 1956, eight months before the merger came into effect. Later, the Union Home Ministry prepared a Note on Safeguards for Telangana and tabled it on August 10, 1956. None of the conditions and safeguards was honoured subsequently and the violation was one of the major foundations of Telangana demerger aspirations.
Fifth, surprisingly, he says the Union Cabinet did not spell out any basis for creation of Telangana state. One is not sure whether the author, a member of the political affairs committee of a political party, reads newspapers and watches TV channels. The basis for creation of Telangana is well laid out and repeated ad nauseam. In an attempt to defend his fallacious stand, he brought in unnecessary arguments on arbitrariness. Yes, of course, the Union government can be accused of being arbitrary in a number of instances, but certainly not in the case of Telangana. The argument of arbitrariness falls flat and citation of Supreme Court orders is irrelevant. The decision was taken six decades after the SRC’s recommendation, four decades after crushing the massive upsurge in 1969 and after at least 16 years of consistent struggle of Telangana people. Moreover, the decision was taken after acquiring consent letters from all the political parties, including the one represented by him. The Congress was the only party that had not given such a letter till July 30 and its CWC decision completed the process.
What kind of basis he further needs? He seems to suggest “language or ethnicity or backwardness” should be “valid basis” for creation of a new State, but Telangana has more than valid bases in denial of fair share, violation of promises and unique identity.
Sixth, he seems to think he would be able to counter Telangana by quoting an old resolution of CWC on setting up another SRC. In fact, Telangana doesn’t need a new SRC to repeat its recommendation. It has already been there on the table for the last 60 years. Telangana wants that recommendation to be implemented.
Seventh, the author asks why the Union government is not considering other long-pending demands like Vidarbha and UP Assembly resolution for dividing the State into four. Yes, Vidarbha is as genuine a case as Telangana. But mixing it with UP is erroneous and it would be better if he studies the Constitution, Debates of Constituent Assembly and the judgment of the Supreme Court in Babulal Parate Vs State of Bombay (1959), among other things. There was a thorough debate on Article 3 and there are ample reasons why the State Assembly was not given a decision-making choice. Indeed, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Union government to even change the Bill after the perusal of the State Assembly concerned in Babulal Parate’s case.
The author ended his article with a high-sounding curse: “Such a caprice shall never stand judicial review.” Yes, caprice has been the monopoly of the rulers of Andhra Pradesh for the last six decades and Telangana people in their judicious review threw that into the dust bin of history. The UPA government had only ratified that decision after much dilly- dallying. There can’t be more justice and any judicial review has to stand by it.
(The author is Editor, Veekshanam, a Telugu monthly journal of political economy and society.)