A new state is not just an economic entity. It is also a political space. While miracles cannot be expected in implementing the economic agenda of a political party that newly assumed power, the people of the new state certainly have the right to expect political morality and respect for the Constitutional principles that respect the rights of the citizens.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) won the elections in May 2014 and will celebrate the second anniversary of the government on 2 June 2016.
When we review the performance of the TRS party in power for political morality and respect for the Constitution, the two years present a rather dismal picture.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti won 2014 elections with 63 seats out of a possible 120 assembly seats. Today, on the second anniversary of the government, it is more robust, having put on the weight of 23 seats. Twelve elected members of the legislative assembly belonging to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), six from Congress, three from YSRCP, and two from Bahujan Samaj Party âdefectedâ to TRS.
Such defections happen soon after a candidate contests on an opposition platform, viciously berating and challenging the politics of TRS. The voter has believed the legislatorâs campaign and has voted him in, but the candidate chooses to jump loyalties soon after. This is a mockery of the electoral process and the voter.
There has been no challenge to this from Constitutional authorities like the Election Commission or the courts. In one case, one of the defectors from Telugu Desam Party continues as a minister in the government while continuing to be listed as a TDP member.
TRS is solely concerned about decimating the opposition by whatever means and has pursued the objective surgically. A despicable manoeuvre of corruption is being dressed up as political strategy in self-congratulation. This is not the new politics that Telangana people wanted. The class who play this game has neither ideology nor principle when they pick their political killing fields and its consequences will not benefit the people.
We all understand that in a resource rich state like Telangana, being close to the centre of power will ensure access to the feeding trough in the spoils bonanza that soon must follow, with mega allocations for irrigation and other works that are planned. There is no higher principle here.
Each of the by-elections held since 2014 witnessed perverse political games. The cash-for-vote farce just before the legislative council elections that involved high drama between the TDP and TRS quietened soon after with a truce between the two chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Of course no legal outcome is likely till the next election, seeing how the institutions that are required to provide the checks and balances for democratic practice are compromised.
However, the biggest shock comes from the style of governance of this government. During the agitation for statehood, two things were often repeated by the TRS leadership. One is the need for wide consultation with Praja Sanghalu (civil society groups), that were in the forefront of the movement and provided ideological coherence and credibility to it. In fact, an advisory body of Praja Sanghams was one of the priority items in the TRS manifesto.
Today the same entities and people who were in the forefront of the Telangana movement are marginalised and ignored. Academicians, artists, poets and activists are watching from the sidelines with increasing alarm at the way the government is further strengthening the already entrenched systems of exploitation in the state.
The second was implementation of the socio-economic agenda of progressive political formations, including that of Maoists, and suspension of all repressive activity of the security forces in the state.
In fact, TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao gave public statements saying, âWeâll hold talks with the Maoists. The talks wonât be at the police level. They will be at the highest level, involving the CM and other key players. The agenda of the TRS is the same as the socio-economic agenda of the Maoists. We will implement it.â
Not only has the socio-economic agenda been set aside, in a series of instances, the TRS government has illustrated to the civil society that all demands and dissent will be crushed. It began with Shruti, Sagar encounters, followed by several other fake encounters and repression in the state.
TRS that spun dreams of encounter free state has now decided to be invisible and silent not just on these issues. They are actively colluding with the Central government in undermining Rohith Vemula case at the University of Hyderabad.
The very first project of this government when it came to power was to militarise the police force and give it more impunity than it had before. No demands for justice against human rights violations are heeded. Public meetings of rights organisations are either denied permission or after permissions are given, withdrawn. Rights activists are harassed, hounded and intimidated.
The decision-making is centralised at the top, and the top leadership is just not accessible to anyone. It takes a Tim Cook to meet them. No ordinary citizen of Telangana can have access to the centre of power. In less than two years, the sacrifices of the crores of poor people who came on to the streets democratically since 1969 to demand a separate of Telangana have been forgotten.
The Telangana state today is inviting global capital to come play, and promising the earth to them, literally. Even so, the government is proposing to close thousands of schools, depriving remote communities, especially girls, access to education. There is gross neglect of the university system. When Tim Cook and his Apple corporation does set up in Hyderabad, it will not be children of Telangana who work in the company, because they will still be illiterate and unemployable, as they are today.
After draught and water woes that traditionally compelled people in Telangana to migrate in distress, they are now being subject to a fresh round of displacement and dispossession ensuring permanent migration, perhaps. This time, the government is taking over thousands of acres of their patta and other lands also to accommodate reservoirs, all in the name of solving the water crisis in Telangana. Displaced communities have been protesting on the streets.
That is how many families in Telangana will usher in 2 June, even as the glitter of comprador celebrations will seek to mesmerise us on the streets of the capital and out of television screens.
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