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Introduction : Refuting An Agitation

01-02-2013

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This book is an effort to carefully examine the claims, assertions, and allegations that are made by the separatists in Telangana. These have gone unexamined for a long time. Therefore, they went unchallenged and unquestioned. Not only those who want the state to be divided believed them to be true but also those who are opposed to the division thought initially that there might be a grain of truth in them. We do not know what the purveyors of these claims and allegations thought about them when they brought them into circulation. Did they genuinely think that they were true? Or they just propagated them to serve their separatist agenda? If they genuinely thought that their allegations and claims were true, this book will give them the correct picture. They should then have no problem in re-examining their argument and revising their position.  But if they deliberately distorted the facts to advance their partisan agenda, this book will expose them and call their bluff. We do hope that they reexamine their position in the light of the facts presented in this work.

Victimhood evokes sympathy.  Telangana separatists repeated their allegations, claims and assertions in concert. They wrote continuously and propagated tirelessly that Telangana region was discriminated against, exploited, humiliated, and insulted. Those who did not have time or opportunity to verify these claims and allegations took them to be true. And as a consequence they found themselves in sympathy with the separatist cause. This is one of the reasons why in Delhi and elsewhere in the country many columnists, political commentators, and several prominent persons in the media and NGO sectors thought that they were lending their support to a deserving cause. Some political parties and their leaders, despite being unfamiliar with the realities in the state of Andhra Pradesh and in Telangana, also extended their support to what they thought was a genuine cause. But, as it turned out, it was uncritical acceptance of claims, undeserving sympathy for a cause and unthinking support for a demand. We hope that those who accepted the separatists’ claims at face value will carefully examine and evaluate the narrative that we are presenting in this book.

The separatists began their agitation with the claim that Telangana region has been neglected, that it was backward, and that it was exploited. That was the overture to their concert of propaganda. They were emphatic about their claims as long as those claims went unchallenged. Nalamotu Chakravarthy’s book My Telugu Roots was perhaps the first work that challenged those claims of economic exploitation and backwardness. His book conclusively showed that the region is not backward (no more backward or no less prosperous than any other region in the state) and in fact has registered impressive growth in every sector of economic activity since the formation of Andhra Pradesh state in 1956. That Chakravarthy hails from Telangana region is significant. Separatists could not tarnish his work as a biased interpretation of data by someone unsympathetic to the interests of his own region. They could not come up with a cogent rebuttal of his argument. Therefore, a cowardly physical assault on Chakravarthy was the only thing that they could do to lend force to their claims. They began to lose their cool as they began to lose their argument. Justice Srikrishna Committee also rubbished the ‘economic backwardness – exploitation’ argument in its report. This marked the final demise of the economic argument of separatists. The argument that jobs of Telangana people were taken away, that there was theft of irrigation water, and that the successive governments neglected the region, that agreements were violated and other related claims and allegations were proved to be simply incorrect and untrue.

With the demise of the economic argument, the separatists began to articulate ‘self-rule’ argument. Little did they realize that this argument in a pluralist, multi-party parliamentary democracy like ours is clearly nothing short of an absurdity. It showed that the separatists are oblivious that in our country every village, town, district, and constituency elects its own representatives based on universal adult franchise in a fair and free atmosphere. When this argument too did not work, they made some loose claims on the basis of history, language, and culture. They tried to portray diversity as dichotomy. We are sure that even a cursory examination of these claims will reveal their hollowness. This book deals with these assertions in detail.

Their present argument is ‘people’s sentiment’ and ‘overwhelming support’ for the demand for division. This book shows that this argument is equally specious. Electoral outcomes since 2004 clearly are unconvincing. Earlier election results, indeed, proved that the demand for the division of the state was overwhelmingly and convincingly rejected by the people of the state in all the regions. It is interesting that elections to the State Assembly following the 1969 Jai Telangana agitation as well as 1972 Jai Andhra agitation conclusively showed that the roused passions for division of the state were short lived. Relevant sections in the present publication deal with this elaborately.

We are not unwilling to give credit to the separatists when they deserve it. Their propaganda is indeed very effective. We do give them credit for propagating a ‘big lie’ very skillfully. They are able to say that they have a case when they have none. Economic data does not support their allegations. Political developments and electoral outcomes do not corroborate their claims. History does not justify their assertions. And cultural and linguistic traditions do not in any way buttress their arguments. But they go on and on. They ‘Bash on, Regardless’! This indeed is praiseworthy.

We have identified 101 claims, assertions, and allegations by the Telangana separatists. There can be many more. But these, we think, are more prevalent ones. We have put them into four categories: (1) Historical, (2) Economic, (3) Political, (4) Language and Culture. We examined each one of them with ample care. We gave them the due respect as any argument in a mature public discourse deserves. We actually wanted to see if any of them had any merit or truth or even had some support in the data that is available. We wanted to give every argument a fair crack of the whip. We did not find even a grain of truth in any one of them. The separatists can examine our refutation of their claims. We expect them to point out if they come across any flaws in our presentation.

It is pertinent here to mention that we have on several occasions asked the separatists to come forward for a debate on the issues they were raising. They never showed any enthusiasm. In fact, they were from the beginning hostile to the idea of a discussion. When they challenged or invited us for a debate on a couple of occasions, we readily agreed to participate. But they dropped out in the last minute. And on one occasion, we were physically assaulted by the separatists (under the leadership of a former Minister) even before we left on our journey for the venue of the debate. Our meetings, exhibitions, and media conferences were physically attacked, regularly disrupted, and on several occasions prevented. None of the civil rights activists came to the defense of our right to voice our opinion. They could not bring themselves to condemn the separatists when they disrupted our meetings and intimidated us. It is a very sad thing in a democratic country like ours. But it is a fact. To us it only means that the agitation is so weak in its argument that it is unable to face a refutation. We wonder if there could be any other meaning to the physical attacks carried out by the separatists and their refusal to engage in a civilized dialogue and debate. We feel such acts are resorted to only by those who have no confidence in the strength of their argument.

Visalandhra Mahasabha is on record saying that if Telangana separatists can show one reason to divide the state, we can show a hundred reasons to keep Andhra Pradesh united. If they show a hundred reasons for dividing the state, we can show a thousand reasons to preserve its unity. And if the separatists can show a thousand reasons to divide the state, we can show one hundred thousand reasons to keep the state together. We are yet to hear from the separatists.

We had debated amongst ourselves whether we should use the word ‘Lies’ in the sub-title. Some of us thought that it might be a bit too strong. They, however, did not disagree that what the separatists propagated were indeed lies. So ultimately the question that had to be decided had boiled down to whether to call a lie, a lie. We finally decided to call a lie, a lie. A lie by any other name would also be a lie. And a familiar word is better than a mitigated expression or a euphemism.

This book is the result of a true collective effort. Everyone in Visalandhra Mahasabha contributed to it in various ways and in different measures: In identifying the claims, allegations and assertions that are propagated by the separatists; in collecting data and material for refuting them; in putting them down in writing; in revising and editing; in deciding on the format; in designing; in proof reading; and in final production.

We are not professional agitators. Nor are we full-time political activists. We wish we could be more active. However, our professional obligations and life commitments do impose severe limitations on us. But we are a group that is passionate about the unity of Telugu people. Therefore, we strongly feel that it is our sacred duty to preserve the unity of the state. Our consciences feel uncomfortable if the false claims, allegations and assertions of the separatists go unquestioned and unchallenged only because they have the wherewithal to intimidate people who oppose division. We do believe that a majority of people in all the regions of the state desire unity. Those who want to divide the state are able to whip up passions now in Telangana. Their counterparts did it in Coastal and Rayalaseema regions earlier. Separatists were in a minority in 1969 in Telangana and in 1972 in Coastal and Rayalaseema regions. That is why the state stayed united. They are in a minority now too. Whenever separatist forces reared their heads and made shrill demands, it is the quiet force of unity that ultimately triumphed. We do hope that Telugu people will tide over the present disturbance and yet again the quiet forces of unity will prevail.

It is the belief that the Truth is on our side that gives us immense strength and courage.

We at Visalandhra Mahasabha always remember what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in concluding the speech he made while accepting the Nobel Prize:

“One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.”

 

 

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