2 June 2020, marked six years of bifurcation of the erstwhile State of (united) Andhra Pradesh. While Telangana gears up to celebrate its sixth formation day, the same cannot be said about the people of Andhra Pradesh. The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was against the will of most of the Andhraites. With the loss of capital Hyderabad and incurred budget deficit, this is etched as the day of conflict and emotional loss in the memory of people of Andhra Pradesh.
Unlike most other States in India, AP has a unique history. Following the hunger strike and martyrdom of Potti Sreeramulu, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared Andhra as a separate State on December 29, 1952. On October 1, 1953 eleven districts were carved out of Madras State to form the new State of Andhra with Kurnool as the capital. With growing demand for linguistic States and State reorganisation, the Telugu speaking districts of the Hyderabad State (Telangana) were merged to form the united Telugu speaking State of Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. For the next 58 years, November 1 remained the day of State formation, with pride and remembrance for the Telugu speaking community until 2 June 2014. It was on 2 June 2014 when the State of Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh against the will of people from Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra.
Historically, Telangana has also suffered a similar dilemma over remembrance and identity pertaining to September 17. Following Operation Polo, the Indian Army annexed the Hyderabad State into the Indian Union on 17 September 1948. This also marked the end of the great Telangana peasant armed rebellion. Succeeding months witnessed a large section of the middle class and Muslim elites migrating to Pakistan and other States. While the conservative adherents celebrated the day as the Telangana Vimochana Dinam or Hyderabad Liberation Day, the liberals and the left saw it as the Telangana Vidroha Dinam or Telangana Betrayal Day. There were instances in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh when the Telangana separatists opposed the State formation day on November 1. Even in the current day and age, the likes of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demand September 17 to be declared as a public holiday in remembrance of the integration of the State into the Indian union, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi differs in their argument.
Shifting our focus back on to the residual Andhra Pradesh, a similar dilemma prevails about the historic day of 2 June 2014. The bifurcation meant an emotional, unjust and abrupt action to the common people of Andhra Pradesh. Taking oath as the first Chief Minister, after bifurcation, Nara Chandrababu Naidu took a moment to call for Nava Nirmana Deeksha – an oath to rebuild the State. The weeklong annual exercise for rebuilding the State served as a consolation and inspirational rebuttal.
For the next five years, the TDP Government continued the tradition, until 2019 when the newly elected Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy chose to revert back to celebrate November 1 as the State formation day. In 2019, Jagan Mohan Reddy announced three-day long celebrations of State formation calling it as the first after a gap of five years.
The State symbols are manifestations of people’s pride, aspirations and emotions. A formation day for the State is a symbol of celebration taking its people their roots in the past and inspiring them for the bright future. Fortunately or unfortunately, Andhra Pradesh suffers from a dearth of clear narrative in this regard. The even more complex history complicates matters further.