One cold morning in 1991, members of banned naxalite outfit Peoples War Group walked into fields owned by P.V. Narasimha Rao and pitched red flags indicating their takeover. Though the state government rushed a full CRPF battalion to Vangara in Andhra Pradesh, the land remained fallow; and no one came forward to cultivate it in all the five years that Rao was Prime Minister.
The Left extremist group knew that taking over the land of the then Prime Minister was the most dramatic way to send out the message that they were in effective control of the region and it paid rich dividends for the Maoists.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi Party (TRS), which is fighting for a separate Telangana state, has taken a leaf out of the Maoist book. The party reckons that powerful icons of the past (Rao is remembered as the chief minister who initiated land reforms) could be a major hurdle in its quest to emerge as the only party that matters in the Telangana region.
The first thing the TRS did was to recruit a sizeable number of unemployed youngsters from Vangara and send them to the party headquarters in Hyderabad for indoctrination. During the training, they were told of the injustices Telangana suffered, both in the hands of the Congress and rival party Telugu Desam.
They were also told that the only way for Telangana to get justice would be to take control of the government, and that this could be achieved by voting for the TRS.
These vocal young men are now doing the rounds campaigning for the TRS in Vangara and nearby villages. Elderly villagers, who supported the Congress in the past, are now having to do a rethink. “We voted for the Congress in successive elections. Our village even produced a PM. But where is the development? The village youth have no work and are going astray. We may get a better deal in our own state and TRS is promising us that,” said local resident Madan, echoing the sentiments of others.
But some like Suresh are worried. “The TRS has driven a wedge in the village; the younger lot supports it whereas the elderly are still rooted in their old allegiances. The TRS has clearly won the game but the village will never the same again,” he said.