September 01, 2013

Reporting from Vijayawada

My blog post titled Telangana march- a first hand account was well received both by friends and netizens in general. This is my most popular post till date both on hits and comments.

A private visit to Vijayawada provides me an opportunity to provide a similar eye witness from the "other side".

Two of my colleagues and I just returned after spent a day in Vijayawada to attend a function. We arrived by an overnight train and checked into a hotel near the railway station. The function was just off Bandar Road, approximately half way between Benz Circle (the most important intersection in the city) and Kankipadu (the Eastern boundary). The drive in both directions gave sufficient opportunity to study the impact of the ongoing anti-Telangana "movement" (aka Operation Grab Hyderabad).

By an interesting coincidence, our visit date (August 30, 2013) was exactly one month after the Congress resolution in favor of Telangana. The "fast unto death" undertaken at the Chanchalguda jail by its most famous under-trial inmate, the Cuddappah MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy (Jagan), had been forcibly interrupted by the police the previous night.

A short while after landing, I overheard a conversation between two locals. It ran on the following lines:

·         Individual 1 (a Jagan fan): what is happening about Telangana formation?
·         Individual 2 (did not sport any outward political links): Have you ever been to Hyderabad?
·         Individual 1: no
·         Individual 2: why do you care then?
·         Individual 1: Telangana people are getting their state. What are we getting?
·         Individual 2: what do you want?
·         Individual 1 (changing track): it would have never happened if YS (the late YS Rajashekhar Reddy) had been alive
·         Individual 2: గాడిద గుడ్డేం కాదూ ("gadidaguddem kadoo" roughly equal to "nonsense")
We chartered an autorickshaw to go to our function. The autowala was an interesting soul who spoke most of the way (much like a New York or Bombay cabbie). When he lamented the ongoing bus strike, I suggested he should be pleased because it improves his earnings. He politely disagreed pointing out that the auto business depended mostly on people who reached the city by bus from nearby districts.

Before we hit Bandar Road, we encountered a small shamiana housing a relay fast by a group calling itself "Samaikyandhra Doctors JAC'. The shamiana size was just over a typical Hyderabadi pan shop. The modest size was adequate for the handful of individuals sitting there.

Before we reached Benz Circle, we saw three more shamianas. Two of these were manned by Government employees and had about 20 odd middle aged men. The third shamiana housing "friends of Vangaveeti Radha" relay strikes in support of Jagan's fast had just three people, the only youth we encountered in the "movement".

A small group of around 30 people were staging a rasta roko just after Benz circle. I thought this was a strategic location being right opposite the Enadu office (if you save time for the press they will reciprocate in kind by providing good coverage). We had to make a slight detour that added around 5 minutes to our journey time.

There were two more shamianas after Benz Circle. The one outside Siddartha Engineering College had around 15 male staff members but no students. Another one near the Tatigadapa Circle was smaller with perhaps 10 people.

The public spirit of the shamianawalas (or perhaps their modest expectations) was clear from the fact that none of these encroached on the road. All were well within the sidewalk & shoulder.

There was no shamiana outside the Telugu Desham Party (TDP) office.

I counted 6-7 large size banners on the way. A couple of these belonged to the TDP while the rest were put up by the Congress. TDP also put up a couple of banners welcoming their party supremo Chandrababu Naidu without mentioning the present agitation. TDP office had a few large anti-Telangana posters but these were all inside the compound and therefore not prominently visible to passers by.

The road dividers along the entire stretch were decorated with small posters spaced at around 100 feet. Just under half of these were put up by one Devineni Avinash, son of Congress politician Devineni Rajashekhar alias Nehru. The others were all non political with birthday wishes to movie actor turned politician Chiranjeevi hogging the limelight. Birthday wishes to actor Mahesh Babu and commercial posters contributed the rest.

Avinash's posters had the photograph of the late Potti Sreeramulu apart from himself. Looks like he does not agree with his party leader Tulasi Reddy's contention that Sreeramulu was never linked to the formation of Andhra Pradesh. Given his family's naming/nick naming conventions, I was surprised to see Nehru giving up the tradition of naming their progeny after national leaders. Or perhaps there was indeed a great freedom fighter called Avinash about whom I am ignorant.

On the way back, the situation changed to some extent. The rasta roko opposite Enadu ended. The Tatigadapa crowd disappeared totally while the three Jagan (or Radha) fans had left for the day. The shamiana's beauty was enhanced greatly by a solitary homeless individual taking shelter from the sun. Three other shamianas had shrunk to a half of its previous strength.

One shamiana housing a relay strike by Government employees had grown quite a bit. There were around 50 people who continued to exhibit the same public spirit of not obstructing traffic. My initial surprise vanished as we came closer: Lagadapati Rajagopal, the Andhra businessman-cum-politician was addressing the group. I could not catch what he spoke as we breezed past at a high speed.

The action was almost entirely run by men past their youth. There were no women and very few young folks.

Someone I met at the function said a trade bandh was on. I was thankful for this information as there was no way I could have figured this out on my own. Just a handful of stores near Benz Circle were closed or operating under half shutters.

Unfortunately for us, we missed a couple of important events. Two senior railway trade union leaders retired on this day. Their respective parties tool out rallies in felicitation. According to a reliable eye witness, the smaller of the two attracted over 300 people. The banners announcing these events were more numerous and larger than that of the anti-Telangana folks.

Thirty days after the Congress's Telangana resolution, the biggest political news in the political capital of Andhra, is that two senior leaders of rival railway trade unions retired on the same day.


Wishing you a peaceful, joyous & healthy retired life, gentlemen!

38 comments:

  1. Email from Sudhir Kodati:

    Hi Jai,

    I'm forwarding this to a few more Telanganites. While informal and independent reporting is valuble and does help gain some insights it's good to work out a mechanism to track so we get a more comprehensive picture on how things are playing out, contary to what is reported in the biased Seemandhra media. Couple of days ago i shared an idea with Ghanta Chakrapani that concerned telanganites and democratic minded friends in Andhra should constitute a panel of 40/50 people in the seemandhra districts( atleast 3/4 per district) and for the next few days report the anti telangana movement on a daily basis for our own understanding as well as the understanding of common people in Andhra. Eventually this can perhaps be even published as a book for a wider circulation. I don't really know the difficulties of the logistics involved and if many see any merit in this at all but i thought it's an idea worth sharing.

    regards,
    Sudhir

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  2. Readers may be interested to know that movies, liquor stores & bars were open as usual. Business appeared to be roaring from all appearances.

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  3. This post is also posted at Mission Telangana site

    http://missiontelangana.com/reporting-from-vijayawada/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jai, you are crazy. You only picked bejawada becoz nothing was planned on that day. why you didn't go to other places where the movement is strog?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vijay, I went to Vijayawada for a private function.

      If you let me know where & when to go, I can try to accommodate your request.

      You say the "movement" is stronger in other places, not Vijayawada. As far as I know, the city has always been the hotbed of Andhra politics.

      Delete
  5. Hi Jai,
    That is really an eye-opener for us. Going by the media, we are under the impression that everybody in andhra region is on roads protesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bala, I was also surprised to a good extent.

      Some of my relatives who went to Nellore around ten days ago said they did not see any sign of the agitation. I somehow felt Vijayawada will be different but it was not.

      Even the NGO's were not out in full strength. Looks like they were treating it as a holiday rather than a strike.

      I trust the central government is getting actual ground reports instead of the media cacophony & political propaganda.

      Delete
  6. Email from Prabhat Bhagvandas:

    don't you get it? it is all about Hyderabad my friend!! Do you think that anyone cares about the villages in any part of the state - AP or Telangana?

    Also, let us not con ourselves that with Telangana, things are going to be any better. In fact, it is going to get worse. These bloody politicians are rooting for any cause just to fill their coffers. I just have one question to madam Sonia Gandhi - What the &^%$ were you and the bloody congress doing for the last 60 odd years.. Forget about AP or Telangana, just look at Mother India. &^%$.

    We need to address the root. BE INDIAN. We are not and that is why all parties and a joke of a neighbor called Pakistan is taking advantage of us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. why you didn't go to guntur

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My invitation was for a function at Vijayawada. I did not have enough time to go to Guntur :)

      Delete
  8. The other day a close friend of mine born and brought up and the socalled original telangana bhhomiputra working in a central government law enforcement office clled me nd ccused me of encouraging nd exporting "vaerpatuvaadam" through very notorious KaChaRa and causing a lot of heartburn.

    sreerama

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    Replies
    1. Bhoomiputra is a Malaysian concept. Do you mean Mulki?

      Delete
    2. sorry I forgot. You had frozen your culture in Nizam's .

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    3. FYVKI Mulki rules continued after the Nizam was overthrown in 1948

      Delete
    4. What's wrong with utilizing Nizam period acts? Many acts that are prevalent today are from Nizam's period. If it ok to eat a Biryani, a Haleem and ok to use words from Urdu in daily usage in 'Telugu' what's wrong? Does that make one frozen in some time? Your comment reeks of arrogance. That's the reason we would like to be left to our own means. Then we do not have to answer such ethno-centric, hegemonistic and hubris filled hatred-filled, high-horse attitudes.

      In your new Seemandhra state you can 'thaw' yourselves and be progressive. We have no compunctions nor any objections. But do not bring your arrogance here.

      Delete
  9. is just one dat at vijaywada enough for analysis of movement, what a nonsense

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe not. But the media speaks of extensive "samaikya movement" all over Andhra. I was skeptical but did not dismiss it altogether till I reached Vijayawada. It is now clear (to me in any case) that much of this is "paid news".

      Delete
  10. Email from Venkat Gandhi Poddutoori:

    Very Good Report Jai Garu

    ReplyDelete
  11. Email from Venkatasivanand Katlla:

    Thank you for the report from Vijayawada on the strike movements, Its very bad that seemandhra peoples are taken for donkey ride by TDP, YSRP and most of seemandhra congress leaders in which state 'CM' is playing the main role. I think why the center is not taking any action to address 'CM' comments he is directly commenting on the 'Telangana' peoples sentiments and all the struggle/losses which Telangana people had gone through over a 60yrs of merger in AP.

    I think is time for all the 'Telangana Region' peoples and including all the parties leaders to come forward for one wish that's 'Telangana Statehood', by comprising all the self-interests of individual and various parties to a common cause of 'Telangana Statehood', it’s very bad that our various party leaders are still keeping quite without any comments of the latest situations on the state demerger like the olden leaders because of them today we are facing such a mess in our own region 'Telangana'. Looks like it’s time for an even bigger 'Joint Action Committee' which should include all the peoples from 10 districts irrespective of various parties, religions, caste, poor, rich, expects, students, educated, illiterate; etc. for a single cause that’s 'Telangana Demerger' with all 10 districts and 'Hyderabad' as its capital and fight like now or never and not for present generation but at least for the future generation to live at peace and harmony with overall growth of the various peoples of ‘Telangana’.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Another email from Venkatasivanand Katlla:

    My point is when seemandhra leaders for their own benefits can get united and provoke seemandhra peoples of bad ideas on 'Telangana' demerger and do BAD to the 'Telangana Region' and also make suffer/struggle over the yrs in all areas of Government Jobs, growth, development, various opportunities in the society; etc than why our region leaders(Congress, TRS, MIM, TDP, YSRP, etc) are not getting united to uphill sentiments of 'Telanagan' region and its peoples and their sufferings over the last 60yrs, like our own leaders are backstabbing us and keeping interests at bay. Still how many years should we peoples of 'Telangana' should keep quite and watch all this so called politicians various drams.....for votes.....Telangana Saga Continues again and over & over from the year of 1956 till date, Jai Telangana Jai Jai Hyderabad

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  13. Very good report sir, finishing touch (Thirty days after the Congress's Telangana resolution, the biggest political news in the political capital of Andhra, is that two senior leaders of rival railway trade unions retired on the same day.) was superb.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In fact the railway union banners were bigger than those opposing Telangana. The entire area in front of the station was full of flags & other paraphernalia of the two trade unions.

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Comment deleted due to inappropriate language

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  15. Dear jai indeed it is nice to go through d blog.I wonder why few readers r asking u whether u have visited Guntur n some other places.As u have rightly mentioned Vijayawada is d hot bed of Seemandhra.To is whethwe d rice is cooked we just press a single grain.similarly Vijayawada gives us d actual status of ongoing agitation.Go head with ur exploration.all d best

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  16. I had a similar experience in Telangana When I came from Bangalore to hyderabad. I asked a taxi driver who irritated me by playing So called Telangana songs.. I asked him to switch of the audio and slowly I started asking him what he will get in turn by playing these songs, putting Jai Telengana banner etc... He said "maa neellu maku vastay !! Maa udyogalu maaku vastayi!!" I asked him "you are doing your job right" and getting the money which you wont get anywhere out side hyderabad in the state.." He said thats true and get extra perks by taking the agitation like money,friends from political circle etc....
    BTW.. he said he is a dropout from primary school..I got the same feeling as Jai that this so called udyamam is BS...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ನಿಮ್ಮಗೆ ತೆಲುಗು ಬರ್ತಾ?

      Delete
    2. Jai Anna!!! yes...Meeku entha kannadam vacho naaku teliyadu kaanee.. naaku anthakanna ekkuva telugu vachu....
      I occasionally visit your blogs.. You have good knowledge,communication skills and intelligence. But my only suggestion is to use your intelligence to enlighten people rather than criticizing , showing the strength of some udyama as great and other is useless. What I have seen personally is, the so called "TUdyamam" is helping certain hate mongers and nobody else !! A reply to a hate monger group will always lead to another similar "SmaikyaUdyamam" and what is happening in AP is the same..
      Think of it with a positive unbiased mindset.. I know you will get it..

      Delete
    3. Anon, are you the same one who wrote the comment. Sorry for assuming you speak Kannada.

      I am also trying to enlighten. This post for instance shows the so called movement does not exist in Vijayawada.

      You think Telangana movement is a hate mongering agitation. Has it occurred to you the opposite group is indulging in scare mongering?

      BTW have you been to Vijayawada or any other Andhra area in the last few weeks. I suggest you do.

      Delete
  17. I am pleased to note this post has overtaken "Telangana march- a first hand account" in the number of hits.

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  18. Generally they say Ignorance is a bliss. But I don't know what to say about the ignorance of Jai & other gang here. One can always say such things about Telangana movement or any other movement. It depends on what you want to see.

    Dont act like a Cat while drinking milk. open your eyes for everything in this world, not just to what you want to see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Raj:

      I did not choose the date or the route. I went with my eyes wide open.

      FYVKI, two of my colleagues were with me all the way on the 14 X 2 km rides.

      You are free to believe what you want. I suggest however you go personally and see it yourself instead of blindly believing propaganda.

      Delete
  19. Independent confirmation from someone who is ambivalent on Telangana but a strong critic of KCR & TRS. He has not seen any trace of the agitation in two days at Vijayawada.

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  20. Another independent confirmation, this time from Anantapur. My relatives who visited the town found no activity except a handful of people at Clocktower.

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  21. All the coastal and Rayalaseema leaders should certainly read this. They are unnecessarily panicking about their electoral prospects. They are not able to know while staying in their own places what Jai could know in such a short visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, if I am not mistaken all these "leaders" live in Hyderabad. Perhaps you do so as well.

      Delete

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