Formation Day: Revanth Reddy sees an opportunity to efface KCR from Telangana movement

Though the Telangana movement is a distant blur now to many, KCR keeps resurrecting the zeitgeist often to connect with the people.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 30, 2024 | 8:00 AM Updated May 30, 2024 | 8:00 AM

File photos of Revanth Reddy and K Chandrashekar Rao. (Supplied)

Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy seems to be on a mission to erase BRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao’s footprints from the statehood movement, even as the state’s Formation Day, 2 June, draws closer.

An astute politician, Revanth knows that Rao — better known as KCR — will be a formidable political rival as long as the latter is identified with the Telangana movement.

The chief minister, also the state president of the Congress, wants to use the Telangana Formation Day as an occasion to change the perception that KCR was the architect of Telangana.

As KCR draws his power from the popular Telangana sentiment, Revanth is trying to smite a blow on the source of his strength by inviting Congress matriarch Sonia Gandhi for the celebrations.

The move is to remind the state that she, and no one else, was responsible for creating a separate Telangana state in 2014.

Revanth told media persons in Delhi on Tuesday, 28 May that Sonia had in principle consented to attend the celebrations.

Related: CM Revanth Reddy goes all out to delink Telangana movement from BRS

A revelation 

Interestingly, a few days ahead of the Telangana State Formation Day, the confessional document of former Task Force Deputy Commissioner of Police P Radha Kishan Rao came out.

He reportedly said that the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), headed by Prabhakar Rao during the BRS regime, had indulged in phone tapping to gather political intelligence for the then-chief minister, KCR.

Kishan Rao detailed how the state’s resources were used in targeting the BRS’s political adversaries and its leaders, whom KCR had viewed with suspicion.

He also explained why KCR had asked SIB to arrest BJP national general secretary BL Santhosh. He said KCR wanted to drive a hard bargain with the BJP to get his daughter K Kavitha off the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s hook.

On 15 March, the ED arrested Kavitha, an MLC, from her Hyderabad residence in connection with the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

The former officer had also said that during the by-elections for three Assembly seats, he and the SIB had seized cash belonging to rival political parties while ensuring a safe passage for BRS money.

Related: Former DCP says KCR ordered arrest of BJP general secretary BL Santhosh

Keeping the zeitgeist going

Though the Telangana movement is a distant blur now to many, KCR keeps resurrecting the zeitgeist often to connect with the people.

Inviting Sonia to the celebrations is considered an anti-dote to KCR’s attempts to bounce back in public life, by leveraging his contribution to the creation of the separate state.

The chief minister has taken special care in organising the celebrations. He would first pay tributes to Telangana martyrs at their memorial column at Gun Park in the morning before heading for the Parade Grounds, where several events have been lined up to mark the festivity.

The chief minister will address the public at Parade Grounds after unveiling the state anthem, Jaya Jayahe Telangana, penned by poet Ande Shri. Oscar-winning composer MM Keeravani has composed the music for the anthem.

In the evening, several cultural programmes will be held at Tank Bund. A pyrotechnics display has been scheduled to light up the Hyderabad night sky.

As many as 5,000 police officers who are undergoing training will participate in the carnival. A fair, complete with a laser show accompanying the state anthem, too, has been planned.

Ever since assuming power in December last, Revanth has been trying to sideline KCR’s role in the Telangana movement.

There has been a concerted attempt to paint the BRS leader as Telangana’s hero. Revanth had several times questioned KCR’s stand when the AP State Reorganization Bill was debated in Parliament in 2014.

The debate witnessed clashes between MPs from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2014. KCR was then representing Mahbubnagar in the Lok Sabha.

Also Read: Is the future doomed for Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao?

Sidelining KCR

After the Congress came to power, Revanth and his colleagues have been projecting KCR and other BRS leaders as corrupt. The sinking of the piers of Medigadda barrage came in handy for them to project it as an eloquent example of the extent of corruption that took place in the execution of the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme.

In the first Assembly session itself, the Congress government ordered a judicial inquiry into the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme disaster, an inquiry into the power purchase agreements with power generators in Chhattisgarh and irregularities in the setting up of the Yadadri Thermal Power Station.

Revanth then took administrative decisions to blur KCR’s memories. A recent Cabinet meeting decided to change the emblem of the state government, the design of Telangana Thalli, adopt Dalit poet Ande Sri’s Jaya Jayahe Telangana as the state’s anthem, and change the state code on vehicle registration plates to TG from TS.

The chief minister wanted to change the design of the Telangana Thalli statute as he felt it, in its present form, does not symbolise the Telangana women. The Telangana women have a fighting streak in them. They fought against injustice, like Chakali Ilamma.

Ilamma was an ordinary Rajaka woman, who later became a source of inspiration for fighting for her rights when the then zamindars tried to usurp her land in the erstwhile Warangal district.

Related: How Revanth Reddy is looking to efface KCR’s legacy in Telangana movement

Symbol of feudalism

The chief minister explained that the Telangana Thalli symbolised only feudal women. The Telangana Thalli in its present form was an unrealistic representation of the Telangana woman or Telangana sentiment.

“It symbolizes the class that exploited the people,” the chief minister said.

On Telangana’s state emblem, Revanth said it did not represent the people’s struggles for the creation of the Telangana state. It was born out of the feudal mindset, he said, and pointed out how KCR had decided on TS as the state code for vehicles registered in Telangana.

After the formation of Telangana in 2014, the Centre suggested TG as the state code for vehicle registration. But KCR preferred TS, which according to Revanth, was done to remind the people of TRS, which was later renamed BRS.

“At the peak of the Telangana movement, the youth had tattooed ‘TG’ on their bodies and wanted Telangana to have ‘TG’ as its acronym. It was the wish of the people of Telangana, but KCR, with scant regard for the people’s sentiment, changed it to TS with narrow political interests in mind,” he said.

Revanth said since Telangana lacked an anthem, he decided on Ande Sri’s poem because it inspired millions during the Telangana movement. The poem could not curry favour with KCR. By adopting the anthem, his government wanted to honour the Dalit poet, he said.

Related: ECI gives green light to Telangana State Formation Day celebrations

Rise of the marginalised

Rubbing salt to the BRS’s wounds, the state government laid the foundation stone for former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s statue in front of the state Secretariat.

As most of the Telangana protagonists were marignalised by the KCR dispensation after the formation of Telangana, Revanth found it right to plot KCR’s fall. He kept stressing how KCR had dumped Prof M Kodandaram, whose contributions made a separate state a reality.

The chief minister frequently mentions the late balladeer Gaddar — Gummadi Vithal Rao — who was born into a Scheduled Caste family and dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of the underprivileged.

Though his struggle for Telangana was widely known, KCR did not entertain Gaddar. Revanth used to speak of how KCR made Gadar wait outside his official residence, Pragati Bhavan (now Praja Bhavan), under the scorching sun for three hours.

In honour of Gaddar, Revanth recently announced that the Nandi Film Awards, which the state presents annually, would henceforth, be named after Gadar. He also ensured a Congress ticket for his daughter GV Venela in the Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly constituency.

She lost to the BRS candidate G Lasya Nanditha, who died in a car crash on 23 February 2024.

Even on the day of his swearing-in at LB Stadium on 7 December, he felicitated the Telangana protagonists and the kin of the Telangana martyrs. He had a separate dais set up for them, in deference to their contribution to the Telangana movement, which was intended to expose the callous and insensitive nature of KCR when he was in power for 10 years.

Related: Nandi Awards to be named after Gaddar

BRS celebrations

The significance of the Telangana celebrations being organised by the state government is not lost on the BRS.

Rivaling the government-sponsored festivities, the BRS, too, is celebrating the Formation Day for three days at Telangana Bhavan, beginning 1 June.

On the first evening, the party will take out a candlelight rally from the Martyrs Memorial at Gun Park to Tank Bund. On the second day, the actual day of the state formation, celebrations would be held at the Telangana Bhavan. KCR will address a gathering and on 3 June, celebrations will be held in all district headquarters.

The BRS leaders are taking strong objection to the changes in the official logo. BRS working president KT Rama Rao in a message on X on Tuesday, 28 May, asked Revanth why he detested Charminar and Kakatiya Kalatoranam since they do not find place in the emblem.

He said that the BRS would not keep quiet if the Congress tried to make changes to the emblem to efface political images (of BRS). He warned the state government that the party would sound the bugle for the battle if it does not retrace it steps.

He said that Charminar and Kakatiya Kalatoranam were not relics of monarchies but identities of cultural grandeur which spanned for over one thousand years. He pointed out a contradiction in the exercise of changing the emblem. Jaya Jayahe Telangana praised Ramappa and Golconda Nawabs but Charminar and Kakatiya Kalatoranam have been removed from the emblem.

“Do you at least know the lyrics of Jaya Jayahe Telangana,” he asked Revanth.

Related: Case of the ‘deleted’ draft TGSRTC logo

A case over logo

Konatham Dileep of BRS said in a statement that over the past few days, the Revanth government had undertaken what seems like a futile attempt to rename various institutions in an effort to erase traces of the previous KCR administration.

As part of the effort, the TSRTC has been renamed TGSRTC. Two days ago, Transport Minister Ponnam Prabhakar’s team shared an image of RTC’s new logo in the official WhatsApp group, which was subsequently published by several media outlets on 22 May.

Dileep said he felt that the new logo has taken away the identity of Telangana. “A day later, TSRTC officials contacted me and explained that they haven’t finalised the new logo,” he said.

Though he deleted his social media posts, the police filed a case against him, accusing him of creating a fake logo.

Dileep said was deeply involved in the Telangana Movement and that he had served as the State Digital Media Director for nearly a decade post the formation of the Telangana state.

He said he would not be intimidated by police cases. “I have unwavering faith in our judicial system. Whoever is truly responsible for this should be brought to justice. I reiterate that I am committed to safeguarding the interests of Telangana,” he said.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).