Hyderabad: With Telangana all set to become a reality, major credit for keeping separation movement alive and kicking, particularly in the last decade, goes to TRS President K Chandrasekhar Rao, who could well be?the political heavyweight in India’s 29th state.
Though several leaders, including veteran M Channa Reddy, had tried to champion the cause of separate statehood for the region, it was KCR, as 60-year-old the TRS chief is popularly known, who gave it a major push, eventually leading to realisation of a more than five-decade old dream.
The most potent weapon of Rao in reviving and taking the stir to national centre-stage is his fiery oration in typical Telangana lingo, which caught the imagination of the masses though his critics accuse him of being a rabble-rouser.
Rao was a TDP leader and Deputy Speaker of Andhra Pradesh Assembly till 2001, before he quit the party and launched the TRS to fight for separate Telangana.
Even die-hard supporters of separate Telangana did not expect him to do reasonably well with seasoned leaders around — N Chandrababu Naidu was Chief Minister then and an equally capable Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was leading Congress.
The separate Telangana cause was in a dormant state then, but he craftily built upon the goodwill for the cause with his articulation and a strategic mind.
With his acerbic criticism against leaders from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema (Seemandhra) and highlighting the alleged injustice meted out to Telangana in “integrated Andhra Pradesh”, he succeeded in striking a chord with the masses in the backward region which consists of 10 districts.
His speeches, delivered in a convincing style, mobilised the masses thanks to the proliferation of print and electronic media in Andhra Pradesh in the last one decade and made it “compulsory” for leaders of Congress and TDP from Telangana to endorse his stand.
His remarks like “Telangana waley jago, Andhra waley bhago” (Telangana people arise, run away Andhra people), warnings of a “civil war”, “bloodbath” made him controversial and he was, often, unsparing in his criticism of even Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Rao almost achieved his goal when the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram announced in 2009 that Telangana State would be formed in the wake the former’s fast unto death.
The Centre, however, later changed its mind and called for more consultations following protests in Seemandhra.
Rao successfully steered agitations like “sakala jannuala samme” (strike by all sections of people) – lasting for over 40 days – that eventually made the Congress and Centre decide in favour of Telangana State.