Telugu literary figures and cultural organisations from Telangana in Andhra Pradesh boycotted the fourth World Telugu Conference, which got underway at Tirupati on Thursday.
Poets, writers, artists, academicians and other noted personalities from the Telangana region stayed away from the three-day event, terming it as an attempt to suppress the movement for a separate Telangana state.
Led by eminent academician and member of state legislative council Chukka Ramaiah, a group of writers, artists and journalists under the banner of Telangana Rachayithala Vedika (TRV) staged a protest at Gun Park near the state assembly here.
Mr Ramaiah alleged that the conference was being held only for the leaders from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra regions). “Why these celebrations when about a thousand people have died for Telangana state,” he asked.
He questioned the government for organising the celebrations “when four crore out of eight crore Telugu-speaking people are suffering”. He was referring to the ongoing movement for a separate state of Telangana, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad.
The WTC is being held in the temple town of Tirupati in the state’s Rayalaseema region. Telangana Journalists’ Forum president Allam Narayana said the conference was aimed at stifling the voice of people of Telangana and to make fun of the region’s culture and traditions.
Cultural organisations like Telangana dhoom dham and Telangana Jagruthi, which support the demand for Telangana state, are also boycotting the WTC.
Revolutionary writer Varavara Rao was arrested by the police in Kurnool on Thursday morning while he was on his way to Tirupati to stage a protest. Revolutionary writers’ association has called for a boycott of the conference.
Ruling Congress party’s members of parliament from Telangana, too, are boycotting the event. Ponnam Prabhakar, a Congress MP, alleged that the government was projecting the conference as a platform to oppose the Telangana movement.
The WTC virtually turned into a one-party show with leaders of main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress party also staying away.
In Tirupati, police arrested YSR party leader and state legislator Karunakar Reddy and his supporters for staging a protest against the WTC.
Karunakar Reddy, who represents Tirupati constituency in the state assembly, had planned a three-day fast to protest the manner in which the conference is being organised.
He said the conference was not being held in the true spirit of preserving the rich heritage of Telugu culture. He described it as a show dominated by the Congress party.