By T S Sudhir
Two days before India’s 64th birthday, a debate has been triggered in Andhra Pradesh over what is anti-national, thanks to 16 ministers of the Rosaiah government. Friday, the 13th of August, brought these VIPs bad news as a local court in Hyderabad asked the police to register cases against them for reportedly stating that the demand for statehood to Telangana amounted to sedition.
All the ministers belong to the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions and are opposed to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Ironically, all these ministers, accused of `promoting enmity between different groups’ are unfurling the national flag in different districts today.
Whoever drafted that piece of paper that was submitted to the Srikrishna committee must have been out of his mind. The note said :
“Demanding a separate state on the grounds of self-respect and self-rule is equivalent to waging a war against the Indian union. This is the most reprehensible and dubious ground for formation of a new state under Article 3 of the Constitution. It is surprising that the Central government has appointed (sic) to look into these anti-national demands.”
The Telangana advocates went to court, claiming the ministers insulted the people of Telangana. K Chandrasekhar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti brought the Governor into the picture by asking him to get the ministers removed from the cabinet. (KCR of course, did not point out that not too long ago, he had warned of civil war if Telangana was not granted after 31 December 2010. A civil war must be a nationalist movement, I suppose !!)
I find it bizarre that in a country where the Constitution bestows on every citizen the freedom of speech, a demand for a separate state within India is interpreted as anti-national. If that was the case, surely the division of Madras state and the formation of Andhra Pradesh and several other states later on linguistic basis in the 1950s, was also anti-national. So were Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.
The group of ministers was led by Andhra Pradesh’s endowments ministers, Gade Venkat Reddy, who presides over the sorry state of affairs of the temples in the state. His state is home to the world’s wealthiest temple at Tirumala, where unless you are a VVIP, the Lord’s minions do not allow the Lord to bestow more than a fraction of a second of attention and darshan on you. Where rampant corruption is almost a way of life. Isn’t that anti-national, Mr Reddy?
The Common-wealth Games is being treated like a privy purse by a select few, even as the Congress keeps arguing Suresh Kalmadi is not in the Organising Committee as a Congressman. Would they have said the same if Kalmadi was a BJP man? In public life, you have to be clean and also appear to be clean. Is it not anti-national when the government allows loot of public money to take place?
Anti-national is when a minister has the cheek to call the MD of a corporation to tell him to bend rules to accommodate a relative. And when the MD declines, citing the rulebook, he finds himself transferred to a loopline posting. Anti-national is when such heavyweight bosses call the shots.
Anti-national is when a chief minister succumbing to pressure from corporate lobbies, asks his few honest officials to turn a blind eye to violation of the law.
Anti-national is when a senior bureaucrat gives the contract of providing food to boys and girls at sports hostels to a contractor who did the catering at his daughter’s wedding for free.
Anti-national is when a sportsperson underperforms while playing for the country because he has sold his soul to a match-fixer.
Anti-national is when substandard material is used all the time in the construction of roads, buildings, flyovers, stadia, footpaths, irrigation projects and when they collapse, the firm uses its clout and money power to influence the authorities to get the probe stalled.
Anti-national is when political parties and candidates distribute money, liquor, sarees and other inducements during the election campaign to bribe voters. (Patriotic voters, of course, do not vote for the candidate who has paid them!)
Anti-national is when media and press, who one expects to be fair and honest, ties itself to the coattails of politicians and publishes and airs paid news, in the name of truth.
The list can go on and on because for the common man, there is nothing more crass than the genie of corruption that he or she has to deal with everyday. The campaign against Bofors in 1987 by V P Singh, spurred the country on a campaign against corruption. That was 23 years back. A guest on a TV show cynically said the other night that corruption has been nationalised in India.
In which case, all of us are anti-national. Not just those who are asking for Telangana, or Vidarbha or Gorkhaland.
We the People of India …