Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday took over as the first chief minister of Telangana as the stroke of midnight hour heralded its birth as the 29th state of the Union, ending decades of turbulent struggle for the region in Andhra Pradesh.
Turning the clock
back 57 years when Telugu-speaking Telangana region of Hyderabad was merged with Andhra state in November 1956, a new state of Telangana came into being, capping numerous struggles for statehood.
It is for the first time since 2000 - when three new states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand were carved out of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively during NDA's rule at the Centre - that a new state has been created.
It is also the first outside the Hindi belt.
Rao, who quit the Telugu Desam Party and floated TRS in 2001 to champion the cause of separate statehood, was sworn in as the CM by governor ESL Narasimhan.
His son KT Rama Rao, nephew T Harish Rao and nine others were also sworn in.
The nine other cabinet ministers were sworn in the new state are Mohammed Mahmood Ali, T Rajaiah, Nayani Narasimha Reddy, Eatela Rajender, Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy, T Padma Rao, P Mahender Reddy, Jogu Ramanna and G Jagadish Reddy.
Earlier in the day Narasimhan, who was appointed governor of both states, was administered the oath of office by Andhra Pradesh high court Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta.
Soon after taking oath, 60-year-old Rao, popularly called KCR, vowed to root out "political corruption" and establish transparency in governance.
Often dubbed as a "rabble rouser" by his detractors, KCR, who steered his party to triumph in the recently concluded Legislative assembly elections, winning 63 of the 119 seats in Telangana region, started off on a populist note by promising to waive farm loans up to Rs. 1 lakh.
"People of Telangana are looking forward to a progressive and development-oriented state. We will work in that direction and ensure a transparent administration," he said addressing the ceremonial parade to mark the Telangana Formation Day at the Parade Grounds in Secunderabad.
"In the next five years, the TRS government will spend Rs. 1 lakh crore for the welfare on SCs, STs, Backward Classes and minorities. Of this, Rs. 50,000 crore will be spent on SC welfare alone," he announced.
Read: Uneasy calm prevails as two states separate
A view of the illuminated Gate of the Public Garden near assembly on the eve of the Telangana formation day celebrations in Hyderabad. (PTI photo)
President's Rule imposed in Andhra Pradesh was revoked partially early on Monday to facilitate the swearing in of the government in the newly-created state.
The central rule will, however, continue in the residual state of Andhra Pradesh till TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, whose party has emerged victorious in the region, takes oath.
President's rule was imposed in Andhra Pradesh on March 1 after N Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned as chief minister following Parliament's nod for bifurcation of the state to create separate Telangana.
Monday's swearing-in ceremony was not without its share of controversy as Naidu, who is likely to take oath on June 8 at a ceremony between Vijaywada and Guntur, skipped it, in a manifestation of the underlying acrimony between the two political heavyweights.
Sources said the TDP president was peeved that there was neither a personal invitation nor a telephone call but only a routine invitation from the administration.
Welcoming the formation of Telangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised complete central support to the new state.
"India gets a new state! We welcome Telangana as our 29th state. Telangana will add strength to our development journey in the coming years," Modi tweeted.
"Centre assures complete support to the people & Government of Telangana in taking the state to newer heights of progress," Modi said, as he recalled the struggle and sacrifices made in the process of creation of the new state.
Watch video: K Chandrashekhar Rao takes oath as first CM of Telangana
For KCR, who started out in politics as a Congressman and then joined TDP before quitting it with a handful of supporters in 2001 to launch an agitation for Telangana statehood, it was a moment of triumph.
Rao had succeeded in reigniting the dying embers of numerous struggles for Telangana statehood through a series of agitations that kept Andhra Pradesh on the boil.
Using the carrot and stick policy with dexterity to achieve his goal, Rao entered into an alliance with the Congress in 2004 but walked out in 2006 after the promise for a separate state was not met.
A fiery orator, KCR then launched a prolonged agitation to achieve his goal that plunged Andhra Pradesh into turmoil and bitterly divided its.
He often criticised leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema (together known as Seemandhra), highlighting alleged injustice meted out to the Telangana region, striking a chord with masses in the 10 districts, which now comprise Telangana state.
While his slogan "Telangana waley jaago, Andhra waley bhago" (people of Telangana arise, people of Andhra run away) made him popular with the votaries of a separate state, his threat of a "civil war" and "bloodbath" made him controversial.
Now the tallest leader in Telangana, KCR had to face disappointment in 2009 Lok Sabha elections when his party could manage to win just two seats.
He was virtually the lone MP of his party as actress-turned-politician Vijayashanti joined hands with Congress and several other leaders deserted him for the then powerful chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.
However, Reddy's death in a helicopter crash in September 2009 provided him with an opportunity to bounce back.
KCR launched a fast unto death in support of statehood the same year as violence tightened its vice-like grip on Andhra Pradesh, leading the then Union home minister P Chidambaram to announce that steps would be taken for formation of Telangana.
The promise for creation of a new state, however, appeared headed nowhere when the UPA government said more consultations were needed following stiff opposition in Seemandhra to its "unilateral announcement".
Read: The gamble that never paid off for Congress
HT Edit: AP bifurcation can set a precedent for positive Centre-state relations
However, there was no looking back for Rao ever since Congress-led Centre, grappling with dwindling popularity in Andhra Pradesh, conceded the statehood demand last year, hoping for a tie-up with TRS in Telangana region to offset the probable losses in Seemandhra.
There were even talks about his party merging with the Congress ahead of the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Legislative assembly elections this year.
KCR, in an astute political move, put paid to Congress' hopes as he decided against having any ties with it and went alone, reaping the reward for spearheading a sustained struggle for statehood.
Meanwhile, Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javadekar have congratulated the people of Telangana and offered them full support of the central government.
"On behalf of the BJP and the central government, I would like to congratulate the people of Telangana. For years, people had been demanding for a separate state of Telangana for growth and prosperity," the urban development minister said.
He said that if the state government and people work hard, Telangana will prosper.
"The central government too will offer full support," Naidu said.
Congratulating the people of Telangana, environment minister Javadekar called for peaceful coexistence of both Telangana and Seemandhra.
"We will go ahead with development plank and we firmly believe that both the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will coexist peacefully and progress rapidly," said Javadekar, who is also the information and broadcasting minister.
President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi said there are great hopes and aspirations in Telangana.
Owaisi, however, said his party would never be part of any government in the state.
"We are strugglers, we are fighters. We want development in Telangana. We want power and water issues to be solved. That is our main concern and we hope that this will be a state which will have great human development indicators and it will be a state where secularism will prosper a lot," the Hyderabad MP said.
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