Telangana and Joint Action Committee - Kodandaram Interview

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Nagarjuna

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Feb 24, 2010, 7:17:52 AM2/24/10
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Spearheading the popular movement for a separate Telangana state is an
unassuming professor of political science with the Osmania
University. Kodandaram , convener of the Joint Action Committee
(JAC), comprising various political parties and social movements,
spoke to Rajashri Dasgupta:

The JAC for Telangana seems a unique experiment.
The concept of JAC is borrowed from the student movement. The people
formed JACs at various levels and put pressure on the political
parties to keep aside their political agenda, unite and fight for the
cause of Telangana. We allow every political group space in decision-
making, implementation and functioning. I have been working in the
civil rights movements and been an adviser to the Supreme Court which
allowed me to gain experience and exposure to the dynamic nature of
various movements and interact with activists. My stature as an
academic gives me the acceptability, which normally many politicians
may not have.

What's your response to allegations that students have been instigated
to join the movement?
I have been working for 30 years and have carefully drawn a line
between academic and political responsibilities. I have encouraged
students to understand issues, given them material and addressed them
when invited. As my presence in the media increased, students became
associated with my activities directly or indirectly. I have never
ignored my academic responsibilities.

Small states tend to depend on the Centre for resources.
There is a tendency to view movements for a separate state as a Centre-
state relation bypassing other core issues like the democratic
participation of people. I agree with Ambedkar who argued that in a
big state the emergence of a powerful class dominates the economy and
polity, denying others any participation. Historically, in the case of
Andhra Pradesh, two social systems and economic structures, namely
Andhra and Telangana, were integrated. Since then, people in Telangana
have been marginalised and the region has turned into an internal
colony.
While the division of a state is not always or the only solution,
alternatives in Telangana were tried out but failed. In some cases
autonomous councils, safeguards or special packages may work. People
argue that if Telangana gets statehood others will demand too. Let us
not suppress these demands just as we have ignored the issues of caste
and gender.

There is apprehension that Maoists are hijacking the movement.
The attitude of the state is to suppress movements, not face them. For
this it requires an enemy. In this case, it is the Maoists. The state
is indulging in doublespeak. It claims to have wiped out the Maoists,
so where is the question of Maoists taking over? The feudal relations
in rural Telangana have been transformed and there is the rise of
small and medium farmers without the necessary skills and inputs. In
fact, they view Telangana as an alternative to Maoism that could not
address their aspirations. Telangana is a wonderful political
experiment within the constitutional framework and has united people.

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