Saroornagar Stadium in Hyderabad, the venue for the launch of the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) party on Sunday, filled up only slowly. The strength of the crowd was vital for the TJS to gauge people’s support and its influence in the 2019 Assembly elections. Having received a barb from TRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who had dismissed the one party that had any potential just two days before its launch, pulling the crowds was TJS’ prime task to show their strength.
TJS activists and leaders were initially worried about the poor crowds. However, to their relief, the party managed to get a decent crowd before the meeting, ‘Aavirbhava Sabha’, began. Not just that, the crowd charged the atmosphere with their whistles and cheering each time TJS leaders took turns to criticise KCR with their customary jibe at his hunger strike for a separate Telangana that hadn’t lasted more than two days.
The crowd consisted of people who actively participated in the agitation for Telangana.
TJS managed to bring in farmers from across all the 31 districts, but a majority of them were from Zaheerabad and Warangal. The crowd was mostly made up of worried farmers, rural unemployed youth and youth who were vexed with the incumbent government and those who believed in Kodandram’s alternative politics.
27-year-old Santosh Kumar had come to the party launch along with his friends from Zaheerabad. Previously a Congress activist, Santosh had been working with TJS for the last one year. “I was with the Congress, but the regular visits of Kodandram saar to Zaheerabad has instilled the feeling that he will work for us.”
“We were never with the TRS government, our support was always for the Congress, but this election we will be supporting TJS, which promises something new,” he says, looking for approval from his peers.
Santosh further said that the TRS government had failed in waiving the loans of the farmers, which led to several distraught farmers killing themselves.
The crowd that had gathered at the event had a common angst against the TRS government. Some said that the government had deceived them by not delivering on what they had promised.
Chandramma, a Dalit tenant farmer from Gadwal, said that the government did not give her the three-acre land as promised.
“I was keeping my hopes pinned on the land. But as we are yet to get it, we feel betrayed by the false promise,” she says.
Just minutes before the event was to begin, the huge flex backdrop on the stage couldn’t withstand the wind. The banner, which had photos of Ambedkar, Jyotibai Phule, Komaram Bheem and Professor Jaishankar – all TJS idols, was torn as a result. However, party workers promptly erected another banner and continued with the meeting, although it was delayed.
Invoking the Telangana spirit
TJS pulled the right strings to bring alive the ‘Telangana spirit’, which was the emotion of the people of the state during the agitation. The leaders invoked the sentiments of the martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for the cause of the state. In fact, to honour the martyrs, besides giving a place for them in the party flag, the venue had a ‘Smarakula Stupa’ to remind the crowd of the sacrifices of the students.
Before beginning his tirade against KCR, Kodandram paid his respects at the stupa, while the enthusiastic crowd cheered.