Necessary to reconstitute the Indian Union as a voluntary union of consenting nations and peoples
On July 30, 2013, the UPA coordination committee unanimously endorsed the move to declare the Telengana region of the present state of Andhra Pradesh as a separate state. Following this, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) unanimously passed a resolution requesting the central government to “take steps in accordance with the Constitution of India to form a separate state of Telangana”.
The announcement of the decision by the UPA to go ahead with the formation of Telengana state has been followed by predictable responses. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, MP's, ministers and MLA's from the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, cutting across party lines have expressed their opposition to this decision to bifurcate the state. Meanwhile, in various other regions of the country, such as in Darjeeling in West Bengal, the Bodo and the Karbi areas in Assam, longstanding agitations for statehood have once again erupted. Demands to create a separate state of Vidharbha from Maharashtra, as well as to create four states from the present state of Uttar Pradesh have also got a boost from some political parties. On the other hand, other political parties have come out opposing the creation of these new states.
Two things are clear from these developments. Firstly, that the national problem in our country remains unresolved 63 years after the present union was constituted in 1950. It is festering, and numerous nations and peoples constituting India, feel that their national aspirations have been stifled within the framework of the present Indian Union. Secondly, that the political parties of the ruling class, whether they claim to be for or against the creation of a particular state, are not interested in addressing the question of the reconstitution of the Indian Union on a principled basis. Rather, it is the interests of the section of the bourgeoisie that they represent that is the driving force behind their positions on this question.
Thus, it is quite evident that the Congress Party, which has had a track record of repeatedly sabotaging the creation of the state of Telengana ever since the demand for such a state erupted in powerful agitations in the 1960's, has now declared its support for Telengana for electoral gains in the coming parliamentary elections.
It may be recalled that the Congress Party had supported a separate Telengana state in its election manifesto of 2009. In December 2009, then Home Minister P Chidambaram announced the beginning of the process for a separate state, at a time passions had been aroused in Telengana in the backdrop of the indefinite fast by the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) leader Shri K Chandrashekhar Rao. Chidambaram's announcement was followed by violent protests in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh. To bury the issue, the government announced the setting up of the Sri Krishna Commission in February 2010 to suggest various solutions to the problem. The report of that Commission, which was denounced by the supporters of separate Telengana state, has been gathering dust for the past three years.
Present Indian Union denies national rights
The Constitution of India denies that India is a multinational state. It denies the existence of nations, nationalities and peoples. It deprives the nations, nationalities and peoples constituting India of their national rights.
It is in this context that one has to study and understand the demand of the people of Telengana region for statehood.
The anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggle in Telengana region, part of the Hyderabad state ruled by the Nizam, was led by communist revolutionaries and was among the most revolutionary elements of the struggle against British colonial rule in our country in the first half of the 20th century. In the course of the struggle, during the forties, the revolutionary fighters of the region had created village councils, through which they ruled, challenging the feudal dictatorship of the Nizam.
However, this anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggle was not taken to its logical conclusion in 1947, when colonial rule came to an end. The big capitalists and big landlords, represented by the leaders of the Congress Party, chose to retain the colonial foundations of state power. The peoples who constitute this country did not realize their aspiration to become the masters of their destiny.
The state power established in 1947 and legitimized by the Constitution of 1950 was a betrayal of the aspirations of our people. The Republic of India was a continuation of the colonial legacy. The Constitution does not recognize the existence and rights of the nations and peoples who make up Indian society. It legitimizes the territory acquired through colonial conquest and suppression of nations and peoples, as the territory of the Indian Union. It empowers the central Parliament, dominated by the parties of big capitalists, with exclusive power to create new states. The central Parliament can destroy old states and reorganize them in any way, while preserving the territorial integrity of the Union as a whole. Any movement that does not accept the supremacy of the central Parliament is targeted as a threat to the “unity and integrity of India”.
One of the very first political acts of the Nehru Government after independence was the suppression of the popular movement in Hyderabad state. The army was sent in and through brutal repression of the fighting peasants and communist revolutionaries as well as massacre of Muslims, this state was forcibly incorporated into the Indian Union in 1948.
The integration of princely states into the Indian Union was carried out between 1947-1950 through political deception, manipulation and the use of force. Under the subsequent ‘Linguistic Reorganisation of States’, the rights of many nations and peoples were trampled in the mud, creating arbitrary divisions in some cases and artificial unions in others. Old wounds created by British colonialism were left to fester while new ones were added. For example, the state of Punjab was first divided in the midst of communal bloodbath during the partition of 1947 and then again on the basis of language, by the Indian state.
Among the earliest victims of the manipulation of national sentiments by the big capitalists and their Congress Party in the first decade after political independence were the valiant people of Telangana. The village councils that were emerging as a form of people’s rule were forcibly eliminated. A new state of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956 by combining the territories of (i) Telangana from the old princely state of Hyderabad, (ii) coastal Andhra from the former Madras Presidency, and (iii) Rayalaseema from the Madras Presidency. This new entity, consisting of all Telugu speaking people, was imposed from above by the decision of the central Parliament, without recognizing any rights of the affected people. The mass movement for people’s power in Telangana was thus wiped out and power was vested in a state legislative assembly that was dominated by the Congress Party and subsequently by regional capitalist parties as well.
Ever since the creation of Andhra Pradesh, major agitations have repeatedly broken out for establishing Telangana as a separate state of the Indian Union showing that the old wounds were never healed. It has been reported that in the last three years alone, more than 1000 people have been killed in the course of these agitations, including many cases of self-immolation. Successive parties and coalitions that came to power at the centre did not concede this demand. Instead, they worked to co-opt various leaders of the Telangana agitation, including offering special packages for the devolution of power to the region from time to time.
Today, the contradictions among the big capitalists are acute over the city of Hyderabad and its highly priced land, which is clearly part of Telangana. Those capitalist groups which are already benefiting from the profits being generated and to be generated in Hyderabad would like to preserve the present political arrangement. Other capitalist groups which want to expand their space by weakening the position of their rivals are trying to manipulate the demand for statehood as a tool to achieve their narrow agenda of gaining control over Hyderabad. It is the interests of these warring capitalist groups that are dictating the stands of the pro and anti Telengana factions in all the ruling class parties in Andhra Pradesh, including the Congress Party.
Meanwhile, apart from the question of Hyderabad, political forces in Andhra Pradesh are raising issues about the division of river waters and electricity, once Andhra Pradesh is divided. Past examples of creation of states, whether it be the division of Punjab or the division of Uttar Pradesh, or the unresolved disputed from the linguistic reorganization of states carried out in the 1950's, show that the ruling class has never resolved such disputes in a principled manner. Instead, these disputes have been allowed to fester, with the central state favoring now one, and now the other, depending on political exigencies.
The present Indian Union today is an instrument through which the capitalist class, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other monopoly houses, exercises its dictatorship over our society. It is like a prison house for all the nations and peoples constituting our country. All the peoples are deprived of sovereignty — whether they be Nagas or Meiteis, Assamese or Bodos, the people of Telangana or of coastal Andhra or Rayalaseema. Sovereign power is only in the hands of the capitalists and their parties, implemented through the institutions of their state. This will not change by the creation of the new state of Telangana. The experience of the people of Uttarakhand, Jharkand and Chattisgarh, which were created in 2000, reconfirms this. It is the biggest capitalist houses that have benefited by plundering the natural resources of the peoples of these states. The aspirations of the workers and peasants and other working people of these states have been brutally trampled upon.
The solution to the problem of Telengana, and to the problems of every national movement for the right to self-determination, lies in the Navnirman of India. Navnirman means to end the colonial legacy, replacing the existing Indian Union with a new, voluntary union of workers’ and peasants’ republics. It means the coming together of consenting peoples, who will adopt a new Constitution that guarantees every constituent people the right to be masters of their own destiny. The reconstituted union would harmonise the interests of diverse peoples with one another, for the mutual benefit of all. It will build and nurture the solidarity among the peoples of this subcontinent, against imperialism and all forms of violation of national or individual rights.
In order to carry out the Navnirman of India, the workers and peasants who constitute the vast majority of our population, led by the working class, have to take political power in their hands. They will then replace the economic orientation of maximum capitalist plunder with the orientation of ensuring prosperity and protection for all. Only this will end the national oppression of the nations and peoples of our country.