An open letter to Sonia Gandhi

Dear Smt Sonia Gandhiji,


The spin doctors of the Congress have been painting you in glorious colours for having given a dressing down to Dayanidhi Maran and M K Azhagiri (wonder what he understood of your Italian-accented English) as a result of which the DMK presumably climbed down and gave your party the extra three seats to contest in Tamilnadu.

Congratulations. More power to you. What your party has offered in return to Karunanidhi and his rising sons and daughter, the public doesn’t know as yet. We will soon, I am sure.

And since you are in the mood to be tough, I take the liberty to request you to look north of Tamilnadu. I hope you found time to see the visuals of the seige of Tankbund by protestors from Telangana today. Not a million as they had claimed, but atleast some 15000 by police estimates. Telangana is happy today because they see this as a message to you that the people of this region want a separate state. Hope you took note.

You must pardon that in their enthusiasm, they demolished and desecrated 19 of the 32 statues of very eminent and learned people, which had been put up at Tank Bund. But don’t think they came without doing their homework. They carefully chose only those men and women, who belonged to non-Telangana regions. Their grouse is that when NTR chose the statues some two decades ago, only seven of the 32 belonged to Telangana.

I am sure as I write, your government in Andhra Pradesh will be hunting for a scapegoat. My guess is it will be the Hyderabad police commissioner A K Khan. He and his men surely deserve accolades from Telanganites for preparing such a porous security cordon that it was breached on the dot at 1 pm.

One of Khan’s officers told me that the Telanganites had gathered at a wedding hall on the Lower Tankbund Road and some 3000 `guests’ had assembled there. It turned out to be a fake marriage. How clever of them. You can well understand, M’am, this is the state of the intelligence in Andhra Pradesh today.

100-odd days back, you gave our state a new chief minister. Kiran Kumar Reddy was meant to be this big ray of hope. Today, after promising everyone that they will be safe in Hyderabad, he fiddled while a part of Hyderabad burnt. It did literally as a police vehicle and an outdoor broadcast van of a TV channel owned by a non-Telangana person were gutted. And even MPs from your party, were there to fan it.

Who do you think is responsible for this state of affairs? Every politician worth his salt and Gandhi topi says the ball is in your court. The Congress, fortunately or unfortunately, is in power in Delhi and in Hyderabad. You cannot get a better opportunity than this to settle this issue once and for all. Be a stateswoman.

My heart bleeds when I see shopkeepers crouching behind half-closed shutters, one eye on the customer and another for any trouble-maker. I feel angry when students are asked to leave home at 5 am for an 8 am examination because the police cannot promise safe and smooth passage. I feel agitated when buses and local trains are targetted and vandalised by crowds who think a stone will get them Telangana. I feel terrible when daily wagers go without their earnings because of the frequent bandhs that Telangana seems to have now. I feel sad when pensioners in Telangana cannot get their pension because government employees in the region have refused to work.

The people of Andhra Pradesh want a solution to this. Enough of this. We want peace. We want progress. Whether or not you decide to `give’ Telangana. But to keep the issue in abeyance, calculating the political advantages that would accrue to your party, is playing with the emotions and lives of people who live here.

The time has come for you to show personal courage and take a call. This way or that way. And show the character to stick to your decision. We do not want more politics on this. The people of Telangana have a genuine grievance and most of it is caused because of the unscrupulous behaviour of Congressmen in the past. Time has come for you to correct the wrong. How long is Andhra Pradesh going to wait for you to break your silence?

I do understand your party these days is having its back to the wall. But that is no reason why you should drive Andhra Pradesh up the wall.
Warm regards


T S Sudhir



Playing Statue

By T S Sudhir
The essential rule in the game of statue is that you need to keep silent, not even twitch a muscle or flutter your eyelashes. Statue-obsessed politicians of Andhra Pradesh however, don’t know the virtue of silence and are flouting all rules of the game as they pit the statue of one dead leader against the other.
Bhala teri statue meri statue se behtar kaise?
There are 1200 Y S Rajasekhara Reddys in Andhra Pradesh now. And courtesy son Jaganmohan Reddy’s discovery of Andhra Pradesh, dad dearest is the most prominent landmark in five districts so far. And with 18 more districts to cover, Jagan would hope YSR covers as much roadspace and mindspace of the voters.
District officials have chosen to look the other way, as Jagan unveils a YSR here and a YSR there. Much to the chagrin of Chandrababu Naidu, who during his district tours, finds that the sight of bete noire YSR continues to haunt him even after he is no more.
The Telugu Desam never went on a Jagan-like overdrive to erect statues of their founder-president, N T Rama Rao. The few that came up had NTR in his trademark hero pose, which as a TDP leader once admitted to me, made them a bit uncomfortable.
Why, I asked? NTR’s left hand stretched out, he replied half in jest, was as if he was rebuking Chandrababu Naidu and company and ordering them to just keep away from him, for reducing him from a hero to a zero.
But now YSR statues are facing an inhouse threat. Telangana Congress leaders have threatened to pull down YSR statues in Telangana region, if Jagan supporters heckle them. This after `YSR fans’ got into a skirmish with self-styled loyalist number 1 of the Gandhi parivaar, V Hanumantha Rao in Mahbubnagar this Saturday.
Talking of Telangana, you cannot ignore BJP’s rediscovered love for the region. The party doesn’t tire of reminding everyone that way back in 1998, at Kakinada, it had promised `one vote, two states’. Then, of course the marriage of convenience with Chandrababu Naidu took place and the BJP had to sacrifice its `love’ for Telangana to be with `anti-Telangana’ Naidu.
Now since last year, the BJP has been demanding that a statue of Komaram Bheem be erected in Hyderabad. Komaram Bheem was a tribal revolutionary from Adilabad who fought against the Nizam in the early 20th century.
The hurdle is that the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has not been forthcoming in permitting any new statue in the city. So some of the more radical Telangana votaries are threatening to pull down any one of the existing 32 statues on Tank Bund, abutting Husainsagar lake and instal Bheem’s statue instead. Given the saffron brigade’s expertise in pulling down structures, this threat cannot be taken lightly.
TRS MLA and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s US-returned son, K T Rama Rao, demands “a level-playing field”.
“During the Telangana agitation last December, a number of statues and busts of Potti Sriramulu, the leader who played an important role in the creation of Andhra Pradesh, were defaced and damaged by pro-Telangana activists. But when unified Andhra activisits searched in their region to locate a statue of a Telangana leader to take revenge, they could not find any. If Komaram Bheem’s statue is not installed in Hyderabad, we will target the statues of Andhra region politicians like Kasu Brahmananda Reddy,” says Rama Rao.
It is not a nice thing to do but one ended up doing a survey of the domicile status of the 32 men and women of eminence on Tank Bund. Seven of them belonged to Telangana region.
People like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Sri Ramadasu, Alluri Sitaramaraju, Sir Arthur Cotton and Rani Rudramma Devi would have never imagined that one day, long after they are gone, they too could be subjected to the quota raj.