ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Telangana Movement

Democratisation or Authoritarianism?

In spite of widespread support in Andhra Pradesh for the Telangana cause, there seems to be an impasse over statehood for the region. This can be traced to the nexus between the state and the mafi a-backed Seemandhra oligarchy, which has increasingly been calling the shots in recent years. The Telangana movement offers the only credible hope of changing the iniquitous structures of power and control in the state and its failure could see the forces of lawlessness acquiring new strength, with disastrous consequences for the common people.

There seems to be an indecisiveness in declaring statehood for the Telangana region. The procrastination continues in spite of student agitations, hunger strikes, suicides, resignations by legislators, a sakala jenula samme (general strike) in which employees and workers participated and, more recently, election results. The strike almost paralysed governance in Andhra Pradesh in late 2011 and the election results of 2012 seem to have caused panic defections from the Congress Party.

The indecisiveness is one of the manifestations of the weakening of both democratic institutions and the state vis-à-vis the oligarchy of economic power,1 predominantly from Seemandhra (the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions of the state). While the oligarchy was earlier essentially an economic power with certain mafia traits, over the years, a certain mafia has become a significant force with deep economic interests within this oligarchy. The rise of the oligarchy and the mafia class has changed the relationship between political representatives and the corporate economy. While political representatives earlier depended on the corporate economy to meet current needs, the rise of these classes has merged the interests of the political classes with these classes. Political representatives no longer look for donations from the corporate economy, rather they are on the lookout for avenues that generate yields. This shift in the nature of the oligarchy is likely to be of great significance for the future of politics in Andhra Pradesh.2

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