The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which has spearheaded the movement for a separate state in Andhra Pradesh, is furious over the Centre's apparent backtracking over the issue.
In an interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, TRS general secretary Subhash Reddy states that the party is willing to give the government some time to resolve the issue, but will rest only after they "get their state back".
What is the next course of action regarding the Telangana issue?
They (the Centre) want a consensus and we will do our best to give them one. We have convened a meeting of the Joint Action Committee. We will discuss this issue with various people and decide on the next course of action.
What will be the main focus of your discussion?
Fixing a time frame (to resolve the issue). It is important that the government tells us clearly by what time they will return Telangana to us.
How long are you ready to wait for a separate state?
The government will get a maximum of five to six weeks to start the process. The TRS will ask the government to commence the process in the next session of Parliament. We want them to discuss this matter seriously and not take us for a ride. The process has to start by then and there should be no flip-flop after that. By the time the next session of Parliament is convened, the government should have an action plan on the issue.
Both the state and the Union government have declared that there can be no Telangana without a consensus on the issue.
See, consensus is not the issue here at all. The state has been taken away from us and it should be returned. The voice of the people needs to be heard and everyone in the Telangana region wants their state back. Why isn't anyone taking that into consideration?
Let the government appoint some educated people or form a committee under a Supreme Court judge and find out what the people want. In a democracy, the opinion of the people should be considered, not the opinion of the political parties.
Why do you think the political parties are creating a fuss over this issue?
The Telugu Desam Party chief (N Chandrababu Naidu) belongs to Andhra, (Praja Rajyam chief) Chiranjeevi belongs to coastal Andhra. Though the Congress chief (D Srinivas) belongs to Telangana, a majority of the party's leaders seem to be opposed to it. It is sad that all these people are more concerned about their next political battle rather than the development of Telangana and the aspirations of the local people.
How do you think Chief Minister K Rosaiah handled the situation?
Very poorly. But that was expected since he belongs to coastal Andhra.
What is your take on the demand to make Hyderabad a Union territory?
This is not acceptable at all. How can an integral part of Telangana be shared or taken away? We will never accept this at any cost. Just give us our state back and end the matter.
Incidents of violence have repeatedly marred protests and agitations on this issue.
Our chief K Chandrasekhara Rao has said that there shall be no violence. What can we do if some politicians are stage-managing or sponsoring it? On Wednesday, when the home minister (P Chidambaram) made the statement (that the situation had altered and political parties are divided on Telangana), we had decided to protest peacefully. But then so many people came out on the roads and started protesting; all this was stage-managed to show the country that we are making a demand through violent means.
Our people did come out on the roads and protest in a peaceful manner, but then some anti-social elements joined in.
Why did the government turn a blind eye when we were seeking Telangana through peaceful means? We will continue to protest in a peaceful manner, but will not settle for anything less than a separate state.
Do you think that the government has betrayed you?
To a large extent, yes. The Government of India was serious about giving us a separate state. But then there was the influence of billionaire Congress members of Parliament, who have large-scale real estate interests in Hyderabad. They are the ones who made the government change its mind and hence it backed out at the last minute.