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Telangana fallout: growing demand for greater Rayalaseema

Following the state separation is an immediate fallout of a growing demand for a greater Rayalaseema - one of the 2 regions Andhra will be left with once Telangana becomes a state. Prasad Nichenametla reports.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2013 11:48 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times

After Telangana, what?

The immediate fallout is a growing demand for a greater Rayalaseema - one of the two regions that Andhra Pradesh will be left with after Telangana becomes a state.

The idea is to create another state by adding two coastal districts of Nellore and Prakasham to Kurnool, Kadapa, Chittoor and Anantapur of Rayalaseema, with Kurnool as its capital.

“Give us a special package to ensure development here or create a greater Rayalaseema,” said TG Venkatesh, a state minister from Kurnool. For, the politicians know that a state with only four big districts and no big cities and resources can hardly be viable.

15 legislators from Cong and Seemandhra minister resign

Earlier, the Congress floated the idea of Rayala-Telangana and Seema-Andhra, dividing the region with eight Lok Sabha seats to each to limit YSR Congress Party chief Jaganmohan Reddy, who hails from Kadapa in Seema-Andhra.

But the idea backfired, with an IPS officer even resigning in protest.

For, Rayalaseema – a region of distinct culture, cuisine and accent — was divided before. Bellary, now part of Karnataka— then Mysore in the 1950s — was part of the Rayalaseema region.

The aggression that led to the large-scale violence this time in Rayalaseema and the resignations by Congress ministers from the region came from insecurity born out of economic backwardness and the absence of natural resources.

In fact, the report by the five-member Justice BN Srikrishna committee, formed to look into the Telangana statehood issue, reported in January 2011 that Rayalaseema is the most backward region in the state.

The other important factor is the fear that coastal Andhraites will grab most government jobs and call all the shots in new Andhra.

“The best scenario will be a united state, peaceful like before and for everyone’s benefit,” says Ravindra Prasad (28), who runs a computer centre in Adoni in Kurnool district.

Ironically, people in Telangana also had such complaints against both the other regions.

While Rayalaseema dominated the state through its high-profile politicians, the coastal people — armed with degrees — dominated the job market.

So, it seems more than the loss of Telangana, it’s the fear of dominance by the coastal people that’s driving the agitation to irrational levels.

So much so that in Anantapur, a perennially drought-prone district, the statues of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi — seen as the symbols of the Congress party — were desecrated and set on fire.

Another factor that is playing on popular emotion is the loss of Hyderabad, where people from Rayalaseema invested a lot — emotion, energy and pride.

The region sacrificed its capital Kurnool, 220 km south of Hyderabad, in 1953 when Andhra Pradesh was created.

Now, with Telangana — and Hyderabad — gone, what if Coastal Andhra wants to separate after 20-30 years?

For long, history has not been kind to Rayalaseema, although the Rayala pride dates back to the mighty Vijayanagara king, Sri Krishna Deva Raya (1471–1529).

The taste of success in arts, literature and a flourishing economy — it is said that during Deva Raya’s rule, diamonds were sold in heaps in the markets — still lingers.

Still remembered is Deva Raya’s proclamation: “Desa bhashalandhu Telugu lessa (Telugu is finest among all languages).”