THE TELANGANA AGITATION

The Telangana agitation started in the first week of January 1969 in Khammam when students demanded the implementation of the Telangana safeguards enumerated in the Gentlemen's Agreement. It soon spread to different parts of Telangana. The students got divided into two groups: one demanding the implementation of safeguards and the other demanding a separate Telangana state.  

Non-Gazetted Officers threatened direct action on January 11, 1969, if their demands were not met. At the outbreak of the agitation, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh called for an All-Party Meeting and announced that there was a perfect unanimity among the leaders to 'achieve full integration of Andhra Pradesh State.  

Two issues were discussed and agreed upon:

 1) The appointment of a senior civil service officer to decide the question of Telangana surpluses

2) Relieving of all domicile persons from Telangana posts and providing jobs for them in the Andhra region.

 Following the All-Party Accord of January 1969, the State Government issued orders for the transfer of non-domicile public employees from Telangana. The Government order on these transfers was the Public Employment Act of 1957. The rules were challenged by Andhra employees in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The High Court struck down the Public Employment Act and the Rules. The Government appealed to the division bench of the High Court.

 A few other Andhra employees led by A.V.S. Narasimha Rao filed a separate writ petition in the Supreme Court on February 4, 1969, challenging the validity of the Government Order and also the Public Employment Act of 1957 and the Rules. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court gave its judgement on March 28 quashing the Government Order.

 As a follow-up measure of the All-Party accord, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh arranged for the accounting of Telangana surplus funds. Kumar Lalith, Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, assessed the surplus funds as Rs.34.10 crores.

 The Telangana agitation continued in the meantime. In the beginning it was leaderless. Madan Mohan, a lawyer, formed a forum known as the Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS) in February 1969. Chenna Reddy was sympathetic to these leaders. Violence increased. Firing was often employed to disperse violent crowds. The TPS organized conventions in many towns across Telangana and soon got strengthened. Chenna Reddy came out openly in support of a separate Telangana and K.V. Ranga Reddy gave his blessings to the movement. Law and order continued to deteriorate.

 The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi discussed the problem with leaders of the Opposition in Parliament on April 9,1969. Except for the Swatantra Party all others did not support a separate state. The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi rejected the demand for the ouster of Kasu Brahmananda Reddy from the leadership of the Andhra Pradesh Congress.

 The Prime Minister announced an Eight-Point Formula on April 11,1969 to ensure the development of Telangana. In consonance with this formula, the Centre appointed two committees:

 1.      Committee of Jurists under former Justice K.N. Wanchoo to suggest measures to provide constitutional safeguards for the Telangana people in the matter of public employment

2.      Committee under Justice Bhargava to assess the revenue surpluses of Telangana.

 In spite of these measures the agitation mounted and grew in intensity. Bandhs, hartals and processions were very frequent. Demand for a separate state became the central theme of the agitation.

 The Prime Minister visited Hyderabad on June 4, 1969. She met leaders of different groups and political parties. Subsequently, then Union Home Minister, Y. B. Chavan, also visited Hyderabad to have discussions. Consensus reached on two things:

 (1) The dismissal of Brahmananda Reddy's ministry.

(2) Proclamation of Presidential rule in Andhra Pradesh.

 Realizing that the agitation was very strongly motivated, particularly about the dismissal of his government, Brahmananda Reddy tendered his resignation on June 27. The Congress leadership sent Congress President Nijalingappa and a senior member Kamaraj Nadar, to seek the verdict of the State Legislature Party. The Congress Legislature Party affirmed its support to Kasu Brahmananda Reddy and suggested that he should continue until normalcy was restored and a peaceful changeover should be opted, giving the leadership to someone from Telangana.

 The Telangana leaders felt that agitation politics alone would not be sufficient to dethrone Brahmananda Reddy. This realization made the TPS enter into the electoral politics. It won a by-election in June 1970, defeating the Congress (R). By this time, the Congress had already split at the national level and the TPS supported the leadership of Indira Gandhi. Brahmananda Reddy also supported her.

 In the December of 1970, Indira Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha and announced a mid-term poll. The TPS eventually contested all the 14 seats to Parliament from Telangana and won 10 out of them. In spite of her overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi did not give any leverage to the TPS which opted for a compromise in September 1971 and merged with the Congress (R). The deal involved:

 1. Continuation of Mulki Rules;

2. Separate budget and accounts for Telangana

3. Separate Pradesh Congress Committee for Telangana

4.Resignation of Brahmananda Reddy in favor of a Chief Minister from Telangana.

 The Telangana agitation did not achieve its important goal of a separate state, but secured assurance of safeguards for the region. Its achievement was quite significant. It wrested for the first time the Chief Ministership from the politically dominant Andhras. However, the new Chief Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao (former Education Minister in the State Cabinet) was an integrationist and politically a light weight in the Reddy dominated Telangana politics. Ten portfolios in his ministry went to Telangana, three of them belonging to the erstwhile TPS.

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