AP Formation: Three Birthdays, Three Capitals

Andhra Pradesh has the rare honour of three birthdays just like three capitals but unfortunately, not even one capital has been developed in a full-fledged manner.

The three birthdays include October 1, 1953, when Andhra State was carved from Madras Presidency, November 1, 1956, when it was merged with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was formed, June 2, 2014, when Telangana and Andhra Pradesh came into existence as separate states after bifurcation.

When the TDP was voted to power, it launched the “Nava Niramana Deeksha” on June 2, 2014, with a pledge to rebuild the bifurcated state on par with others. The TDP leaders did not organise any programmes on November 1 during their party’s rule.

However, the YCP government took a different route and declared that November 1 would be officially celebrated as the Andhra Pradesh Formation Day.

Accordingly, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy took part in the Formation Day celebrations by unfurling the national flag at his official residence at Tadepalli, and kept it a simple affair in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initial Struggle

The division of Andhra state can be traced back to January 26, 1950 when India became a Republic. A province called “Madras Presidency” which was part of the British India directly became a state named as “Madras State”.

The Madras Presidency comprised most of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh along with a few districts and taluks of Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa. The Madras State had its capital at Madras, now called Chennai, where a majority was Tamil speaking population.

Apart from Tamil speaking people, there were others speaking another Dravidian language, Telugu, who also settled in the region in large numbers. Two-thirds of the region where Telugu was spoken was also a part of the Madras State.

Eventually, Telugu people started protesting demanding creating of a new state and it reached a peak on December 15, 1952, when Telugu leader Potti Sreeramulu, a Gandhian who was fasting for Andhra province and inclusion of Madras, died. Sreeramulu was born in Madras. He quit his well-paying job in the Railways in 1930 to join Gandhi in his Sabarmati Ashram. On October 19, 1952, he decided to go on an indefinite fast in support of the cause of Andhra. After 51 days of protest, Sreeramulu died while fasting at the residence of another Telugu leader in Mylapore, an area in Madras.

Death Triggers Protests

Sreeramulu’s death triggered violent protests and the protesters ransacked public property surrounding Mount Road in Madras. Gradually, the agitation spread through Andhra and it continued till the Andhra State was formed on October 1, 1953, thus becoming the first state to be formed on the basis of linguistic lines.

Andhra state was carved out of Madras state with an area of 160,205 sq km and there was much contemplation about division of Madras into the capital of both Andhra State as well as Tamil Nadu. However, it was decided that Andhra State would have its temporary capital in Kurnool city.

During partition from Madras Presidency, it was decided that Tirupati, the famous pilgrimage town, and Srikalahasti temple would be included in the Telugu state, when the Andhra people asked for retaining Madras as the capital for their state.

Meanwhile, there was an additional 114,840 sq km Telugu speaking region, called “Telangana” which was part of the Hyderabad State. V. Kaleeswara Rao, the vice-president of AP Congress Committee suggested that the Andhra leaders should work with their Karnataka bretheren for the disintegration of Hyderabad State and combine the Telugu speaking people with Andhra. The proposal of Visalandhra was brought forward as it was envisioned that Andhra would be able to get Hyderabad as their permanent capital.

After two years, on November 1, 1956, Telangana was merged with Andhra State and Andhra Pradesh was formed and Hyderabad was made the combined capital.

Gentlemen’s Agreement

To reach this decision, an agreement was reached between Telangana leaders and Andhra leaders on February 20, 1956 to merge Telangana and Andhra with promises to safeguard Telangana’s interests. A “Gentlemen’s Agreement” was then signed by Bezawada Gopala Reddy and Burgula Ramakrishna Rao to the effect.

For more than a decade, everything seemed right and people of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana lived together happily. However, in 1969, an agitation began in Telangana region as people protested the failure to implement the Gentlemen’s Agreement and other safeguards properly.

Marri Channa Reddy launched the Telangana Praja Samiti espousing the cause of a separate state. The agitation intensified and turned violent with students in the forefront of the struggle and about 300 of them were killed in violence and police firing that ensued.

Following this development, several rounds of talks with leaders of the two regions were held and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came up with an eight-point plan on April 12, 1969. Telangana leaders rejected the plan and protests continued under the aegis of Telangana Praja Samiti.

Jai Andhra Movement

In 1972, the Jai Andhra movement started in Andhra-Rayalaseema regions as a counter to Telangana struggle. On September 21, 1973, a political settlement was reached with the Centre and a 6-point formula put in place to placate people of the two regions.

In 1985, employees from Telangana region cried foul over appointments in government departments and complained about ‘injustice’ done to people of the region.

The then Telugu Desam Party government, headed by N T Rama Rao, brought out a Government Order to safeguard the interests of Telangana people in government employment.

Till 1999, there was no demand from any quarters for division of the state on regional lines. In 1999, Congress demanded creation of Telangana state as it was suffering under crushing defeats in successive elections to the state Assembly and Parliament with the ruling TDP in an unassailable position.

Telangana movement catches pace

The demand for separate state gained momentum yet again under the leadership of Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, who was seething over denial of Cabinet berth in the Chandrababu Naidu government, walked out of TDP and launched Telangana Rashtra Samiti on 27 April, 2001.

Following pressure applied by Telangana Congress leaders, the Central Working Committee of Congress in 2001 sent a resolution to the then NDA government seeking constitution of a second States Re-organisation Commission to look into Telangana state demand, which was rejected by the then Union Home Minister L K Advani saying smaller states were “neither viable nor conducive” to integrity of the country.

However, the TRS started gradually building the movement for a separate state. Meanwhile, the Congress forged an electoral alliance with TRS by promising to create Telangana state.

In 2004, the Congress came to power both in the state and at the Centre and TRS became part of the coalition governments at both places but protesting delay in carving out the separate state, the TRS quit the coalition governments in the state and at the Centre in December 2006 and continued an independent fight.

In October 2008, the TDP changed its stance and declared support for bifurcation of the state.

KCR’s Indefinite Fast

TRS launched an indefinite hunger strike on November 29, 2009 demanding creation of Telangana. The Centre budged and came out with an announcement on 9 December, 2009 that it was “initiating the process for formation of Telangana state”.

On December 23, 2009, the Centre announced that it was putting Telangana issue on hold which led to more protests across Telangana with some students ending their lives for the cause.

The Centre then constituted a five-member Committee on February 3, 2010, headed by former judge Srikrishna, to look into the separate statehood demand. The Committee submitted its report to the Centre on 30 December, 2010.

Series of Telangana protests

During this period, Telagana witnessed a series of agitations like the Million March, Chalo Assembly and Sakalajanula Samme (general strike) in 2011-12 while MLAs belonging to different parties quit from the House.

With its MPs from Telangana upping the ante, Congress made Union Home Ministry to convene an all-party meeting on December 28, 2012 to find an “amicable solution” to the crisis and division of the state was realised in on June 2, 2014.

Political observers say that a thorough analysis of how new provinces came into existence reveals that it was politicians who moved the pawns for their benefit in the whole exercise. Despite making promises in the legislative houses, the elected representatives cared a hoot to fulfil them and it has always been the innocent people who were made the scapegoats of the dishonesty.

Andhra Appeals Disregarded

While being divided from Madras Presidency, Andhra demanded that Madras be retained as their capital but the wish was not granted. The then rulers pacified the Andhra activists by trying to compensate the loss of capital through some other ways like including Tirupati, a pilgrimage town which earns crores of rupees, into the limits of Andhra State. Similarly, while being separated from Telangana, Andhraites asked for Hyderabad to be made a joint capital but even this request was not honoured.

Instead, the Centre promised to accord Special Category Status to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. However, even this was not fulfilled and instead the state authorities were asked to be content taking some special financial aid.

Agreements are being signed and Bills being passed in the legislative Houses but when promises are not being kept, people are not able to understand whom to approach for justice and remaining defeated in a helpless situation.