Dignified Exit

Going by the way the Congress is dealing with the question of Telangana there is the risk that the regional aspiration of several ethnic, linguistic and minority groups in the country could well end up on the wrong side of the divide i.e. extremism as against vibrant participation in the democratic process of nation building. It is therefore extremely unfortunate to note that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief, K Chandrasekara Rao has now decided to quit Parliament obviously chagrined by the insensitive attitude of the Congress on the matter. Earlier, the TRS Chief had ended the party’s ‘uneasy stay’ in the UPA coalition government, by resigning as Minister. And quite naturally by even resigning from their esteemed positions as Member of Parliament, the TRS leaders have done the right thing—a bold decision if one may say so. This is in fact the ‘real’ substance that goes to make electoral politics noteworthy and dignified. For the TRS leaders, they have truly understood the meaning of public mandate and therefore one needs to appreciate the sacrifice (of power and office) they have made not only for the cause that they hold dearly to but also for respecting the fact that they derive their power from the people. 

Not being able to redeem the promise of a separate state of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh and by deciding to quit the Manmohan Singh government, the TRS leadership has set their own standards of accountability towards the people and the region they represent. Notwithstanding this dignified exit, the Congress led UPA government has been exposed for failing to stand on its promise of Telangana as given in its Common Minimum Program (CMP). By going back on its commitment as spelled out in the CMP, the Congress led UPA government is sending the wrong signal to regional groups and constituencies. This posture of the Congress also contravenes with what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said only recently during the Chief Minister’s conference on Internal Security that the problems of minorities in the country should be dealt sensitively in a way that does not injure their feelings. 

The country is today confronted by the naxalilte problem and the root cause of this is related to economic deprivation and the question of social identity. Who will take the blame if the Telangana people also return to extremism and violence to voice their aspiration? And more so when political representation and platform of Parliament has failed to sincerely address the issue at hand. The country’s political leadership should seriously ponder about whether participation in the democratic process is even worth the effort and more importantly how marginalized groups can retain faith in the democratic ideals of the country at a time when the spirit of accommodation, respect for pluralism and the values of fair play and justice is fast eroding as a result of the callous State that seeks, not to embrace but to alienate the rights of people over ownership of their land, culture and identity. By denying to the Telangana people their rightful due, the Indian State is today doing a grave disservice to the ideals of democracy and its commitment of pursuing the unity and diversity of this great country.