Gandhian atheist and social reformer Lavanam strongly feels that separate statehood for the Telangana region is the only solution to the ‘T’ gridlock.
“Statehood to Telangana will only be a political division. We must accept it and focus on development of cultural and social integration of the two regions at least in future,” Mr. Lavanam told The Hindu on Saturday.
Digging into Telangana history, he says absence of social and cultural ties between the two regions never allowed people to integrate. “People of Andhra region went to Telangana, bought vast stretches of lands, set up branches of educational institutions, industrial units, and invested huge money there, which generated a feeling of insecurity among Telangana natives. NRIs of this region also pumped in their moolah in that area, which made it look like the Andhra people were out to exploit and loot them.”
Citing political reasons, Mr. Lavanam says that after carving out of separate Andhra Pradesh State, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, the first elected Chief Minister of the erstwhile Hyderabad State, who led the struggle against the Nizam, should have been offered the post of the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. “This would have enabled us to say that ‘See, we are all for you.” But before P.V. Narasimha Rao, none of the Chief Ministers were from the Telangana region. Barring P.V. Narasimha Rao, Chenna Reddy, Anjaiah, and J. Vengal Rao, all other Chief Ministers were either from Rayalaseema or Andhra area.” Citing the case of Marathwada, he said Bala Gangadhar Tilak was the common factor uniting all Marathi-speaking people.
“Unfortunately, we did not have anybody like Tilak who could help people of the two regions bridge the gap. In their case, Puna was the common cultural and literary capital of all Marathi-speaking people. But in Andhra Pradesh, it kept shifting between Vizianagaram, Rajahmundry, Guntur, and Madras.” Since 1949, Lavanam has been closely associated with the Telangana area, where he extensively propagated atheism and social reform laying stress on untouchability and removal of superstition. In 1986, Lavanam and his wife Hemalatha initiated Jogini reform system in Nizamabad and Medak districts.
“I have worked with three generations of Telanaga people and I know the pulse of the common man there. Those opposed to Telangana actually want their economic supremacy to extend to the political arena as well,” he said, wondering why people who are vociferously talking about one State for all Telugu-speaking people are forgetting to include other Telugu-speaking areas like Hampi in Bellary of Karnataka State, Jeypore in Odisha, Hossur and Ponneri in Tamil Nadu, and Bastar area in Chhattisgarh.