Telangana gains momentum

Eight years after the Nizam’s dominions were merged into the Indian union in 1948, the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad was trifurcated. As part of this redrawing of the map in 1956, a portion of the Nizam’s realms went to the then Bombay state. Another part went to Mysore and the remaining portion of Telangana was merged with Madras to form Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad city, from where the Nizams ruled over the second largest Muslim kingdom in the world, became part of Andhra Pradesh. Today, 60 years later, even as all of Andhra’s political parties veer towards the creation of Telangana — the latest convert to the cause is former CM and TDP boss Chandrababu Naidu who was hitherto bitterly opposed to it — the fate of Hyderabad city again hangs in a balance. Years of agitation for the creation of Telangana have broken down the opposition within Andhra to the creation of a separate state. Many people who opposed Telangana now say, ‘‘Create it, if you must.’’ But none of these people agree on Hyderabad being part of the new Telangana state. The seeds of conflict lie in the fact that proponents of Telangana assert that Hyderabad forms the heart of Telangana and there can be no question of keeping it away from the new state. The dilemma is that although Hyderabad is central to Telangana, it’s now also the heart of Andhra Pradesh. As old timers in Hyderabad testify, the city formed the core of the Nizami culture with its biryani, tehzeeb and dakhanni dialect popularised by Mehmood in Hindi films. But times they are changing. With a large influx of people from coastal Andhra, Hyderabad of yore is fading fast. ‘‘With the demography changing, Urdu is no more extensively understood in the city. So is architecture that is becoming decidedly coastal in texture. Pessarattu and Andhra fish curry is as popular as biryani,’’ says K B Sukumar, an old-timer. What’s more, trade and commerce is entirely with coastal Andhra migrant who, therefore, now has a significant stake in Hyderabad. ‘‘These people will never agree to Hyderabad being part of Telangana,’’ says an analyst. Two contractors from coastal Andhra but now prospering in Hyderabad endorse this view. ‘‘Let them take Telangana, but Hyderabad can’t be given away,’’ said one of them. Incidentally, many of TDP’s strong supporters, too, have significant investments in Hyderabad, so Naidu may not be forthcoming on the city being made part of Telangana. Naidu was unavailable for comment. The geographical contours of Hyderabad, too, have changed in the last two decades. Confined originally to the area around Charminar and extending to Banjara Hills on one side and Secunderabad and Tarnaka on the other, Greater Hyderabad, which forms part of a unified municipality, is now bigger in physical terms than all Indian cities except the NCR of Delhi. ‘‘Areas of neighbouring districts have been merged with Hyderabad to catapult it into a megacity. As a result, there are more vested interests that oppose Hyderabad becoming a part of Telangana,’’ says an analyst. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo Chandrashekhara Rao has tried to allay the apprehensions of coastal Andhraites asserting that they and their property will be safe in Hyderabad, the natural capital of Telangana. But not everybody is convinced. For instance, the new boss of Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM), Asaduddin Owaisi, has let it be known that if there’s a redrawing of maps, then a new Urdu-speaking state of Hyderabad would have to be created. This is similar to the opinion in some quarters that Hyderabad can be converted into a union territory like, say, Chandigarh, serving as the common capital of both Telangana and AP. But the popular support base of Telangana is opposed to this and analysts predict that keeping Hyderabad out of Telangana would lead to a bloodbath on the streets of the erstwhile Nizam’s city.

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