Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fight together, for separation

History is being made today; history was also made nearly six decades ago.  As Nara Chandrababu Naidu takes oath as the first Chief Minister of residuary Andhra Pradesh (some call it Seemandhra) today (8th June 2014), history made on 1st October 1953 and 1st November 1956 are consigned to old history.  New history is now in the making.  What Potti Sreeramulu would have done today, if he were alive, is left to our imagination.

When we gained independence from British rule, Telugu speaking people were scattered under various political formations; a large part under the then Madras Presidency, some other parts under different regions of South India. There was a demand for formation of "Vishalandhra" so that Telugu culture could be preserved and all Telugu speaking people can come under a single political rule.  Many stalwarts fought to realise this dream.  Potti Sreeramulu was one among them.

"Amarjeevi Potti Sreeramulu", meaning an immortal being, was born at the turn of the last century, on 16th Match 1901 to be precise.  Initially he worked for the Great India Peninsular Railway.  He was influenced by the then ongoing freedom struggle and quit his job to join the movement.  His young wife and new born child died at birth time and he felt free to devote rest of his life in serving others.  He divided his property among his brothers and liberated himself from other bondages.  He became a full-time freedom worker and took part in various satyagrahas (agitations) including Salt Satyagraha and Quit India movement.  He was imprisoned several times during these satyagrahas.  He worked in Gujarat as well as in Andhra (part of the then Madras Presidency) for the welfare of the neglected sections of the society. He fought for the right of entry to temples in places where some sections of the society were barred from entering and succeeded in his efforts.  He was known to be a true socialist and fought for the Khadi movement as well as rights of the oppressed. His life style even made some call him a mad man.  But he was his own man, well and truly. He was called as "Andhra Gandhi" by those who loved him.  It is even said that Mahatma Gandhi once uttered, "If only I have eleven more followers like Potti Sreeramulu, I will win freedom for India in a year".  

Sreeramulu took to a lengthy fast to press for creation of a separate state for the Telugu speaking people with Madras (present Chennai) as capital.  Jawaharlal Nehru promised to consider the demand and he broke his fast. But nothing concrete emerged mainly due to the demand that Madras (Chennai) should become the capital of Andhra.  The famous "JVP Committee", consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhabhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya, rejected the idea of reorganization of states on linguistic lines.  Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya (founder of Andhra Bank) was himself an Andhra stalwart) and a senior Congress leader. Upset with this line of thinking, Potti Sreeramulu started a fast unto death for the creation of Vishalandhra on 19th October 1952 and died on fast on 16th December 1952.  His fast for 56 days and the resultant death created a violent movement.  His funeral procession in Madras raised huge protests and seven people were killed in police firing in Anakapalle and Vijayawada.  As a result of the heightened agitation, the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed on 1st October 1953 with Kurnool as capital. Demand for inclusion of Tirupathi in Madras State (present Tamilnadu) ensured that Madras stayed with Madras State while Tirupathi was included in Andhra Pradesh. Another Andhra stalwart "Andhra Kesari" Tanguturi Prakasam became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.  Consequent to unification of all Telugu speaking areas under one state due to reorganization of states on linguistic basis, Hyderabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh on 1st November 1956.  Senior Congress leader and another Andhra veteran Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy became the first Chief Minister of the reorganized Andhra Pradesh.  Since then, 1st November became a day of celebration as "A P Formation day."

Potti Sreeramulu's supreme sacrifice has few parallels in history.  The only other comparable fast unto death is that of revolutionary Jatinidra Nath Das in lahore jail during 1929.  Jatin Das started a fast demanding better living conditions for Indian prisoners and under-trials from the British masters.  He fasted for 63 days and ultimately died on 13th September 1929.  These sacrifices are to be seen in the background of the innumerable fast unto death undertaken nowadays and broken at the slightest assurance even from persons who do not have the authority to concede the demands.  There are also instances of a fast started after a heavy breakfast and broken well before lunch time!  As a mark of respect to Potti Sreeramulu, his house in Royapettah High Road in Chennai was being maintained as a monument by the AP government.  It is a travesty of justice that some time back groups fighting for division of the AP state into Telangana, Rayalaseema and costal Andhra took a oath together at this place to "Fight together for separation". Now that Vishalandhra no longer exists, fate of this monument is a big question.  He fasted for 56 days and yet could not see the united Andhra in his lifetime.  The unified Andhra that came into existence after his fast for 56 days and death lasted 56 years; by 2013 Congress Working committee had already decided on bifurcating the state.

The two states Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh have two different formation days now. Telangana was formed on 2nd June 2014 and truncated Andhra Pradesh is being born today.  An instance of a new government of a party with clear majority being sworn after three weeks of declaration of election results is a record in itself.  There will be two celebration and two state songs. There are two governments and two chief Ministers. There will be two cabinets and two systems. There will be many problems of separation and division. Telugu people are again spread under different rules and regulations.

Is there any lesson for the future generations from these events?  There could be many interpretations and explanations for the developments and the climax.  One of them is that edifices built on emotions do not last long.  Human emotions change pretty fast.  Six decades is not too long a period in the history of a state.  New expectations and aspirations have little concerns for history and sentiments.       


  1. Thank you for taking us through the birth pangs of Telangana and Seemandhra. The details of the origin of the problem and the sacrifices of the real heroes seem to have been lost in the cacophony of political wranglings over short term electoral gains. Now that the division is final and complete, we hope the neighbours will live in peace and harmony, in the larger interest of the Telugu people .

  2. After reading feel so bad about division his struggle for vishal andhra...56days fasting...gaining
    after 56years...loosing..
    very good
    thanks Sheela

  3. Advantages
    1)getting seperate telangana would give them privacy of handling thier things own
    2)they need not depend on other regions
    3) when gov doesnt satisfy their needs in the whole state they to get satisfied with a seperation
    4)Following divide and conqour method would results best in any formulae...
    1) Its easy for other states like karnataka and tamilnadu to overtake the development of AP
    2) Having less MP seats in a state would results less authority in the central government
    3) Moreover living together is better than seperate..would get down......
    Other financial matters are seen by intelligence....

  4. Only time will tell what is good Atleast now with all jamela of this seperation Modi has been benefitted at cos of congress

  5. Deeply researched article!

    Meena Herle

  6. Wonderful article to know the gist in 10 minutes which had 5 decades of history.


  7. As always I admire your style of narrating the history and felicity with which the language flows. The concluding paragraph really takes the cake in as much as conveying the bitter truth. We only wish that the new Governments truly work for the welfare of the people of the respective states ending the mutual animosity.

  8. As always I admire the style of your narration and felicity of the language flow. The concluding remark effectively summarizes the whole development and the lessons learnt need to be pondered over. Let us wish that the new Governments sincerely work the welfare of the people of respective states ending their mutual animosity

  9. Thanks for enlightening.

    Vivek Vishlawath, Hyderabad.

  10. the history unknown to so many has been nerrated excellently. I am one among them. Thanks for the same. We pray and hope that Telugu people as a whole will not suffer but gain out of this division. The advantages of both the regions were shared till date which will miss from now on until and unless the respective governments cooperate for the good of the Telugu public.