The Rayalaseema movement is still in a nebulous state. There has been no clarity among the protagonists of the movement as to the objective of the agitation. Youth and students are chanting Rayalaseema mantra. The man on the street of Rayalaseema is convinced that some injustice is being done to the region. Dozens of organization have sprung up in various parts of the region. Poetry and short stories as well as other art forms are being used to give a definitive articulation to the aspirations of the people. Still, lack of clarity on the goal is affecting consolidation of the movement. Some say separate Rayalaseema state is the solution while others raise their voice for union territory status. The number of people, who advocate justice to the region with a statutory backing while remaining in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is also significant. In this connection, Jinka Nagaraju of telugu360.com spoke to Justice P Lakshman Reddy to get the feel of the ongoing emotional commotion in the four districts of Rayalaseema. Justice Laksman Reddy, a retired judge of AP High Court, is a member of the group of intellectuals, who are organizing a meeting at Tirupati on November 21 on the future of the movement .
Excerpt of the interview:
Q: We hear and read a lot about Rayalaseema now. You have planned a meeting on November 21 at Tirupati. What exactly is happening Rayalaseema?
Justice Reddy: There has been an all-round acknowledgement that Rayalaseema is getting a raw deal in every aspect of social life-jobs, education, institutions, projects, funds allocation etc. The capital, chief minister Naidu has planned at Amaravati, is a blow on the Rayalaseema. This realization is cause for the present unrest in the region. The unrest can be seen both on the ground and social media. Many new organizations have been floated by students, youth and others voluntarily- a welcome trend indeed. They are raising voice against the injustice being done to the region. But, no main stream political party is directly involved in this unrest. We feel, a time has arisen to streamline these Rayalaseema forces in order to exert pressure on the government to put an end to the injustice from being meted out in future. Our meeting is basically, to bring the forces of Rayalaseema togetherto see if an umbrella organization like JAC could be formed.
Q: Who are attending the meeting?
Justice Reddy: Our aim is to create a non-party forum for Rayalaseema to raise the voice for justice. We have invited all political parties. I have written a letter to CPI, CPM, TDP, Congress, BJP and about 25 people’s organizations have been invited. I have no idea of how many would attend. I learn BJP has decided not to attend. Similarly, I spoke to some TDP leaders and I figure out, they are unlikely to attend following chief minister Naidu’s tour to Kurnool and Kadapa. It is not that these leaders are not interested in Rayalaseema. But, they are constrained by the party’s programs.
Q: Has there been any change in attitude of government after the growing unrest in the region?
Justice Reddy: Why alone in government. I have noticed a perceptible change in the attitude of government and political parties, who never spoke of Rayalaseema issues separately. All are coming out of their shells having seen the unrest in the social media. Social media reflects the depth of the sentiment. So, Naidu planned a tour to Kurnool and announced slew of programs. He asked the people to believe him and he is also a man from Rayalaseema. YS Jagan, who always clubbed Rayalaseema with other regions while demanding justice, is now talking about Rayalaseema demands. Many individual leaders DL Ravindra Reddy, Ananta Vekatrami Reddy, M V Mysoora Reddy, C Ramachandraiah, Sailajanath have started talking about Rayalaseema issues. Similarly, political parties have realized that if they don’t raise the Rayalaseema issues now, they would get isolated from the youth. It’s a change. This is the background against which we are planning the Tirupati meeting. We have also invited MLA,MPs, MLCs to the meeting.
Q: What is the objective of the meeting and what are your demands.
Justice Reddy: Our objective is to build a common platform like JAC to take forward the movement. We can’t say what would emerge from the meeting. Our principal objective is to ensure no further injustice done to the region. As for demands-
*Rayalaseema is a backward region. It is an isolated region and is away from the capital. Impact of capital is felt minimally here and majority of the people are poor. In the present environment, the students of this region can’t compete with students of coastal regions. So, we need regional quota in jobs and admissions to educational institutes. This is not new for Telugu people. Telangana, also a backward region once, had fought and achieved quota in jobs and admission. We need constitutionally protected regional quota in jobs and admissions. In the absence of such mechanism injustice bound to happen. We learn about 3000 temporary staff have been recruited for Amaravati. Had the quota system been followed , Rayalaseema people also would have got recruited for Amaravati works. Now, we are told only locals are chosen. Is it not injustice for the youth and students of Rayalaseema? What if tomorrow, the government wants to regularize them in recognition of their services for the capital Amaravati?
* Amaravati is being developed as World Class city by pumping huge amount funds. Do it, we have no objection. But, a proportionate amount should be allocated for the development of Rayalaseema. Entire amount should not be spent on a single city and leave nothing for other cities.
* A statutory consultative mechanism should be evolved engaging all political parties for the identification of the projects for the state. Schemes and project should not be taken up as per whims of a single leader .
* Projects or units with adequate employment potential should be located in the region. Developing jobless projects in the lands of Rayalaseema is not good. See, for example, government is planning solar power plants in thousands of acres in Rayalaseema. And units that manufacture these panels and equipment is located in Coastal region. Compare the employment potential of these two units. Is it not injustice to Rayalaseeema?
* Similarly, instead of development “Nava Ngaralu” (nine industrial cities) around Amaravati, they should be decentralized around the state. We don’t accept too much concentration in Amaravati at the cost of Rayalaseema.
These are some of the issues , we want to discuss in the meeting.
Q : There is some talk of separate Rayalaseema? what is your take on this?
Justice Reddy: We, the retired individuals, are not the organizers of agitation. We are not leaders. Political parties, which have network and cadre force can alone organize movements. We are trying to bring all parties and organization on to a single platform above political ideologies. I don’t want to hazard a guess on what shape the movement would take in future. Let us first bring about unity? Unity is important because political parties are working amid compulsions and constraints. Let them first overcome the party constraints and only then can we talk about the future course of action.