Democratic Process and Electoral Politics in Andhra Pradesh K.C. Suri Department of Political Science & Public Administration Nagarjuna University Guntur, AP Report submitted as part of “Livelihood Options” research in South Asia Overseas Development Institute London 2002
2 Contents I. Introduction II. Andhra Pradesh: A Profile III. An Outline of Politics and Elections in Andhra and Telengana prior to the Formation of Andhra Pradesh IV. The Era of Congress Dominance, 1957-1982 V. Emergence of the Telugu Desam Party: Politics of Populism and Confrontation VI. Politics of PragmatismVII. Elections to the Panchayati Raj Bodies, 2001VIII. Concluding ObservationsTablesSelect Bibliography
3 I Introduction India is a Union of States, according to its Constitution, with state power distributedbetween a (federal) government at the Centre and the governments of the constituent States(in this report the word ‘State’ denotes a constituent province of the Indian Union and theword ‘state’ is used in its juridical sense). Some of the major States of India are as big assome of the large independent countries of the world. The importance of the States lies notmerely in their vast territory or population, but in their distinct social structure, well-developed languages, culture and history. This tremendous diversity is mainly responsible forgiving rise to different patterns of politics in different States. The government at the Statelevel is responsible for most of the usual functions of a government, such as making laws ona wide-variety of matters, their execution, maintenance of law and order, adjudication,commerce, industry, agriculture, education and health. During the last 50 years of its existence as republic, States have come to occupy anincreasingly important place in the Indian political system. The political processes at the Statelevel assumed significance after the breakdown of the Congress dominance in the late 1960s.With the emergence of the State based parties in 1980s there has been growing divergence inpolitics at the State and Central (federal) levels. Different party systems had taken shape indifferent States and the electoral outcomes began to differ from State to State in the last twodecades, bringing a great deal of diversity among the States too (Manor, 1988). Theemergence of coalition governments since 1989, in which the State parties became importantpartners, brought the State to the centre stage. The onset of liberalization policies from theearly 1990s further increased the salience of the State. National and international financialinstitutions and agencies, companies and industrial houses began to deal directly with theStates. State governments have assumed an active role in the development of infrastructure inthe State, and determine a host of policies in accordance with the priorities of the ruling partyat the State level. The bewildering variety of political forms at the State level led some observers of Indianpolitics to think of it as ‘patternless’ or a big mess out of which one could make little sense. Ahighly plural society characterized by tremendous socio-cultural and economic diversity,continuously undergoing radical changes, politics no doubt appears to be in a state ofperpetual flux. Therefore, Indian politics today may be comprehended better if one tries tounderstand it from the perspective of State politics, not as emanating from the ‘Centre’, but asa cluster or coalescence of diverse State politics. While the States operate within the nationalpolicy framework and political situation, Centre operates within the limitations imposed bythe dynamics of State politics. There is a two-way interaction between the State and Centralpolitics. At the time India became Independent the country faced, to use the phrase of RajniKothari, the challenge of simultaneous change and development. It took upon itself thedaunting tasks of reforming social structure, promoting agricultural and industrialdevelopment, and fostering democratic political institutions, all at the same time. TheConstitution was a social covenant in democratic socialism, as it assured to its people liberty,equality and social justice. Elections have become the main agency through which democracyhas been strengthened in the country. Commentators of Indian politics have observed that
4such a situation gave rise to both political development as well as political decay. Newsections of people were mobilized into the political firmament, participation of people inpolitics was made possible on an increasing scale and activists and leaders are recruited andnurtured. At the same the demands from the newly mobilized sections of people haveincreased on the state. There have been attempts to strike a balance between the claims ofdiverse segments of society for political power, social wealth and other opportunities, whichwere often conflicting. This proved to be a difficult exercise in recent years. The era ofliberalization and economic reforms has affected the thinking about the nature and role ofstate and government in the country. The new economic policies, with their stress onderegulation, privatization and destatization, have raised new questions about developmentand welfare. The tensions in the process of change are too many. The new panchayati rajsystem mandated by the Constitution recently has opened new avenues of politicalparticipation to include more and more representatives of different sections of society in thedecision-making bodies at the local level. Elections have assumed significance as hundreds of millions of voters, living underconditions of illiteracy, poverty, backwardness, pre-modern social relations, religiousdistinctions, and inequalities based on caste built over hundreds of years, were repeatedlycalled upon to exercise their political right to choose their representatives at the Central, Stateand local levels. Fears that elections in India would either fail because of the awesomestructural limitations and unpreparedness of the country to institutionalize parliamentarydemocracy or that they would have destabilizing consequences, which the political elitescannot control, proved to be wrong. There may be several limitations, deficiencies andfailures in the functioning of India’s democracy, which need to be overcome, but there arealso commendable achievements. Very few might be happy with what has been achieved, butthere is also the satisfaction that Indians are able to work to solve their problems under ademocratic framework. So far India has gone through 13 Parliamentary elections and almost an equal number ofLegislative Assembly elections in each State. It is indeed a great experiment in consolidatingand operating democracy in a large and ancient country like India trying to stand on its ownlegs, after nearly two centuries of colonial rule. For a country with relatively little experienceof struggle for parliamentary democracy and franchise, afflicted by several congenital defectsand constrained by several social problems, it was no mean achievement of its people thatelections could take place at regular intervals, parties in government could be changedwithout violence, power could be peacefully transferred to new sets of leaders, politicalparties could transform themselves from the era of mass politics of the freedom struggle tocompetition, and a government based on law with an assurance of basic freedoms to thepeople were made possible. The greatest achievement of periodical elections was thedemocratization of society and politics. Importance of the study of elections as a means to understand the political processes iswell recognized all over the world. As Norman Palmer pointed out, the study of electionsprovides an opportunity to study the political system in action. If we take a longitudinal viewof the political system, elections are situated at its interstices, but they bring out in sharprelief the interacting social forces that are at work in the polity, provide insights into variousaspects of the system and its actual functioning. An account of electoral process and State politics in Andhra Pradesh during the last 50years is presented in the following pages. An attempt is made in this study to analyze theways in which the regional, faction, class and caste factors, on which different political actors
5depend for support, have operated in State politics and shaped the electoral outcomes. It alsodiscusses how the policies and programmes of the State government and also the strategies ofcompeting political parties have been influenced by the logic of electoral politics. It examinesthe process of the emergence of the Telugu Desam Party and the factors for its consolidation.It also focuses on certain aspects of political decay and the challenges to the politicalleadership in the State. The multiple and shifting strategies of the ruling TDP and theCongress in winning the elections in recent years are looked into. Since the ‘LivelihoodOptions Research’ in South Asia project has its focus on the panchayati raj system in AP, theresults of the recent elections to the local bodies are discussed in detail in a separate sectiontowards the end of this Report. In the process it analyzes the dilemma faced by the rulingparty in balancing the need for economic growth through the implementation of radicaleconomic reforms and the compulsions of competitive electoral politics as they manifest inthe continuation of the welfare programmes for the benefit of the poor and the disadvantaged.It points out certain areas and issues for further study in understanding the elections andpolitics in the State. II Andhra Pradesh: A Profile The State of Andhra Pradesh was formed in the year 1956. The language of most of thepeople in the State is denoted by either of the two terms – Telugu or Andhra, though thesetwo bear no phonetic or etymological affinity (Nagabhushana Sharma and VeerabhadraSastry, 1995). There were two important stages in the formation of the State. At the time ofIndependence the Telugu-speaking people were distributed in the old multilingual MadrasState and the princely State of Hyderabad. The Telugu-speaking areas of the Madras Statewere separated on October 1, 1953 to create the ‘Andhra State’, with Kurnool as capital. ThisAndhra region itself was composed of two sub-regions, namely the Andhra region, calledpopularly as the Andhra, and the south interior region, known as Rayalaseema. Later, theTelugu-speaking districts – referred to as Telengana region – of the old Hyderabad State weremerged with the Andhra State on November 1, 1956, under the State Reorganization Act toform the greater Andhra (Visalandhra), called Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad, the former capitalof the Nizam State, became the capital of the enlarged State (Venkatarangaiah, 1965;Narayana Rao, 1973; Sarojini, 1968; Rao, 1988). It was the first State in Independent India tobe formed on the basis of linguistic principle, i.e., one unified State for people speaking onelanguage. The State came into existence after a prolonged struggle and a great deal of bargaining andcompromises by the political elites of different regions. Levels of economic development inthe three regions was uneven at the time of State formation due to variation in importantfactors such as political legacy, land relations, rain fall, soil fertility, terrain, cropping patternand other agricultural practices, irrigation and other infrastructure facilities and literacy andhealth standards. These inter-regional disparities and the politicization of the regionalidentities, especially in the Telengana region, have affected State politics and elections sinceits formation. The backward regions of the State have made impressive progress in the lastfour decades, but this ‘congenital defect’ is yet to be overcome. Although AP is known as anintegrated State of the Telugus, integration in social, cultural, emotional and economic termsis not complete. The demand for bifurcation of the State and separate statehood for Telenganahas been repeatedly coming to the surface, sometimes assuming the proportions of awidespread movement and violent conflict. While some sections of middle classes, upper
6castes and political leadership in Telengana entertain a feeling that their region remainedbackward because of the raw deal meted out to the region by the successive governments anddisproportional benefits reaped by the people from the coastal region, some sections incoastal Andhra think that they could develop much faster if they are not encumbered by theTelengana region. It has now become customary to look at Andhra Pradesh as consisting of three distinctregions: the ‘Circars’ (literally the ‘government districts’) or the coastal Andhra regionconsisting of nine districts (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, WestGodavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore) and comprising 43 per cent population ofthe State; the Rayalaseema region (‘the land of kings’) consisting of four districts (Chittoor,Cuddapah, Anantapur and Kurnool) and comprising 18 per cent of the population; and theTelengana region (‘the land of Telugus’) consisting of 10 districts (Mahbubnagar, RangaReddy, Hyderabad, Medak, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam andNalgonda) with 39 per cent of the population (Census of India, AP, 2001). The coastal andRayalaseema districts are often jointly referred to as the ‘Andhra’ in contradistinction to the‘Telengana.’ There are 28,123 villages in the State which constitute its rural frame. All villages exceptforest villages are revenue villages with distinct revenue boundaries. 117 ‘Statutory Towns’(including six Municipal Corporations of Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur,Warangal and Rajamundry) and 93 ‘Census Towns’ (with a minimum population of 5,000,75 per cent of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and a densityof population of at least 400 per sq.km.) together constitute the urban frame of the State. Aspart of decentralization of administrative set up in 1986 each district is divided into a numberof Mandals and village panchayats. At the time of local bodies elections in July-August 2001,there were 22 Zilla Parishads (excluding Hyderabad, which is entirely urban), 1,094 Mandalsand 21,943 village panchayats in the State. At the end of the year 2000 the electorate of theState stood at 50.58 millions. The State has 42 Lok Sabha constituencies. In Rajya Sabha it isrepresented by 18 Members. The strength of the State’s Legislative Assembly is 294.Nature and environment Andhra Pradesh forms a major cultural and geographical link between the northern andsouthern parts of India. It is situated in the tropical region between the latitudes 13o to 20onorth, and the longitudes 77o to 85o east. It is bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east,Orissa in the northeast, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra in the north, Karnataka in the west andTamil Nadu in the south. AP has the second longest coastline in India (972 km.), runningfrom Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district in the north to Sriharikota in Nellore district in thesouth. There are seven working ports in the State, including one major port (Visakhapatnam)and two intermediate ports (Kakinada and Machilipatnam). The climate of Andhra Pradesh may be described as tropical-monsoonal type. The Statereceives its rainfall from the southwest and the northeast monsoons. Rainfall varies fromregion to region and fluctuates widely over time. The average rainfall ranges from about 74cm. in the South to about 200 cm. in the North, but the annual fluctuations are considerable.As more than 60 per cent of the net sown area has no assured irrigation facilities and dependson rainfall for cultivation, monsoons play a crucial role in deciding the agriculturalperformance of the State and the overall condition of the economy. Most parts of Telenganaand coastal Andhra receive fairly good rains. However, Rayalaseema is a zone of precariousrainfall, annual average being 69 cm. and as monsoon often fails in this area, it has long been
7known as the ‘stalking ground of famines’ (kshamaseema). Annual fluctuations in the rainfallare some times so heavy that several districts are often subjected either to floods or drought.Excess rainfall is as bad as deficit and a flood is as disastrous as a drought. Cyclones andfloods periodically devastate Coastal Andhra, causing heavy damage to standing crops,putting the economy of this region in great peril. Rivers constitute a vital element of the consciousness and way of life of the people in theriverine areas. The anicuts across the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Penna, described as‘poems in concrete’, were built more than a century ago. It was due to these irrigationprojects the Krishna-Godavari tracts of Andhra had experienced an ‘agrarian revolution’ in amanner quite unlike any other part of the Madras Presidency in those days. The changes inthe social and political organization of Andhra that followed the ‘agrarian revolution’ wereimmense. It is due to these irrigation projects that the central coastal districts even todayremain as ‘granaries’ of the State. Sharing of river waters is becoming a contentious issuebetween various regions of the State in the last two decades or so. Andhra Pradesh is also richin a variety of minerals, most important of them being coal, limestone, natural gas, barytes,manganese, mica and iron ore. Much of the industrial growth of the State is in mining andindustries dependent upon these minerals.Population characteristics Andhra Pradesh is the fifth largest State in India, both in terms of area and population. TheState’s population stood at 75.73 millions in 2001 (Census of India), which accounts for 7.4per cent of India’s population. The massive size of the State can be gauged from the fact thatonly 12 nations of the world have larger population than that of Andhra Pradesh. Thepopulation of the State has more than doubled since its formation. However, the decennialgrowth rate of population in Andhra Pradesh has come down to 13.86 during 1991-2001.This is the first time the growth rate of the population has come down compared to theprevious decade and is the lowest since Independence. It is much less compared to the allIndia decennial growth rate of 21.34. Literacy rate in AP has gone up from 44.09 per cent in1991 to 61.11 per cent in 2001, but it is still lower than the all India figure of 65.38 per cent.The difference in literacy rate between rural and urban population, tribal and non-tribalpeople, socially backward castes and the upper castes, and males and females is still verywide. With about 27 per cent of the population living in urban areas, the level of urbanization inthe State is almost on par with the national average. Though the proportion of urbanpopulation as a whole has been increasing in the State, the rate at which it has grown hasdeclined substantially in recent years. If high rates of urbanization during the earlier threedecades were attributed to the stagnation of rural economy, the steep decline in the rate ofurbanization during 1991-2001 needs to be examined. Although the proportion of peopleliving in rural areas has declined from 82.6 per cent in 1961 to 72.92 per cent in 2001, theliving standards of the rural people overall remain low, as most of them live under conditionsof agrarian overpopulation and limited opportunities for productive work. When one speaksto members of peasant families in rural areas it becomes clear how eager the peasants are tomove to towns if they get any opportunity to do so. Parents do not usually prefer to give theirdaughter in marriage to a person living in village or engaged in agriculture and would ratherprefer a small employee in an office in urban area. The data on workforce distribution indicate a high magnitude of dependency onagriculture. Nearly 80 per cent of the total workers in the State are still engaged in agriculture
8(cultivators and agricultural labourers put together). While the proportion of cultivatorsamong the ‘main workers’ has declined the proportion of agricultural labourers has been onthe rise. The proportion of agricultural labourers in AP is the highest among all the States inIndia. Their proportion tends to be even higher in the agriculturally advanced areas of theState. It is well known that all those who are involved in agriculture do not have sufficientwork. With mechanization the need for manual labour in villages has been on the decline.Such a situation leads to overcrowding in agriculture and disguised unemployment. Theelders in the villages often speak about the laziness syndrome prevailing in the rural areas,indicating that there is no sufficient work for all members of the village. Since dependency onagriculture over time has not declined much in the State, the per capita income of agrarianpopulation can be improved only with significant rise in productivity levels or a major shiftof rural population to urban areas relocating people in different occupations. In terms of religious identities, Andhra Pradesh is a mosaic of different faiths. AlthoughBuddhism was said to be the major religion till around the early medieval period, it hasbecome virtually non-existent today. The ‘Hindus’, including the Scheduled Castes andScheduled Tribe people, constitute about 89 per cent of the total population. But the term‘Hindu’ is a problematic one, because any person not claiming the other prevalent religions,such as Islam and Christianity, is generally subsumed under this category by Censusenumerators. Thus Hinduism encompasses tribals, whose major religious form is animism.The North coastal Andhra has a preponderance of Hindus with about 99 per cent inSrikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, and about 97 per cent in Visakhapatnam and EastGodavari districts. Muslims occupy the second place with about 9 per cent of population.Though Shias are in a considerable number, the majority are Sunnis. Mulsims are locatedlargely in certain districts and towns. They are in considerable number in Rayalaseema region(about 13 per cent), Guntur district (11 per cent) and parts of Telengana. The capital city,Hyderabad, has 26 per cent Muslims, where communal politics thrive. The Christiansconstitute about 1.8 per cent in the State, with a high concentration in Guntur district (6.7 percent) followed by Krishna and West Godavari. Christianity spread mainly among the sociallydepressed castes, to which it rendered great service, but there is also a small section of uppercaste Christians. The percentage of Christians may be apparently low because a largernumber of dalit Christians claim themselves Hindu for technical reasons. Jains, Buddhists andSikhs constitute about 0.4, 0.3 and 0.3 per cent respectively.Economy AP, like most States in India, has a multi-structured economy, ranging from shiftingcultivation in Agency areas of Srikakulam district to high-tech industries in Hyderabad. Asmentioned earlier agriculture is still the mainstay of AP economy. The net area irrigatedwas 4.38 million hectares (41 per cent of net sown area) in 1999-2000, constituting about 8per cent of the total irrigated land in the country, and slightly above the national average(39%). But area irrigated and sources of irrigation vary from region to region. During theearly decades after the State came into existence canal irrigation was given priority but forsome time there is hardly any progress in bringing more land under canal irrigation. Foodgrains account for about half of the total cropped area. Rice alone accounts for nearly half ofthe total area under food crops. Pulses, oil seeds, especially groundnut, cotton, chillies,sugarcane, tobacco, and turmeric are the principal commercial crops of the State. Agricultural productivity per hectare showed an increase since 1970-71, in the regions andcrops that came under the influence of green revolution. Commercialization of agriculture inthe State became prominent from the early 70s. But commercialization of agriculture also had
9its adverse effects on the peasant economy. Agriculture has become capital intensive andlosses due to natural calamities or pest or price fluctuations in the market, often depriving thepeasant remunerative prices to his product, meant the collapse of his economy. Severalmembers of peasant classes, who in search of prosperity go for commercial crops and incurheavy investments, mostly raised through loans, end up as paupers. Such ‘pauperization’from the status of an independent peasant results in loss of dignity for the peasant as he cannot pay back his debts, marry off his daughter, support his children in their education,experiences a sudden fall in the living standards of the family, etc. This in turn drives thepeasant to a state of despair and loss of interest in life. Suicides of farmers, especially thosewho grow commercial crops such as cotton, tobacco, chillies and groundnut, have become arecurrent phenomenon in the last two decades. AP has the dubious distinction of recordinghighest number of suicide deaths of farmers in the country in recent years. The share of agriculture in Net State Domestic Product fell to about 25 per cent in2000-01, from about 60 per cent at the time of State formation. This decline, in itself, maynot be something to be worried about, provided it was accompanied by a correspondingdecline in the proportion of population dependent on agriculture. But that did not happen.Thus the agrarian population in the State is sharing this sharply diminished share of the totalincome. It meant a condition of increasing relative deprivation for the rural classes. Data on the number and distribution of operational landholdings and the operated areaunder different landholding size-classes show that the number and percentage of marginaland small holdings and the area operated by them have been increasing, while the mediumand large holdings have been declining during the last three decades. While in the early 1970sthe medium and large landholdings accounted for 15.6 percent of the total holdings andoperated an area of 57 per cent of land, they in 1995-96 accounted for only 6 per cent of theholdings with an area of 30 per cent of land. There has been a sharp decline in the number oflarge holdings and the area operated by them. ‘Deconcentration’ of land has been takingplace in the State due to multiplicity of factors such as agrarian struggles by the communistand peasant organizations in the early decades, land ceiling laws enacted by the government,and out migration of members of land owning families to urban areas. Old type oflandlordism has been broken down in large parts of the State. Land ceiling laws have losttheir appeal. While in the pre-Independence period land passed from the zamindar and non-agricultural families to the members of intermediate castes, now land seems to be passingfrom peasant families, who have lost interest in agriculture or unable to keep their land, tomembers of backward and scheduled castes who are engaged in agriculture. These changes inthe agrarian structure have far-reaching socio-political implications. AP was a late entrant to the country’s industrial scene. The share of manufacturing sectorin the Net State Domestic Product has increased from 7.2 per cent in 1960-61 to 12.9 in1999-2000 (at constant prices, 1993-94). The share of secondary sector as a whole stood at19.4 per cent. Growth of industries in the State was mainly propelled by public sectorindustry, especially in pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment, heavy engineering andmachinery, iron and steel and fertilizers. Three-fourths of total employment in organizedsector was in public sector in 1998 (1,513,000 out of a total of 2,065,900), although it mighthave come down due to the stoppage of further investment and also disinvestment in publicsector in recent years. According to the data available for the year 1998, the most prominent industries, judgingby employment, were the manufacture of food products (22.9% of factory employment),followed by non-metallic mineral products (16.36%). Other important industry groups were
10machinery equipment and metal parts (10.92%), cotton textiles (7.14%), chemicals andchemical products (5.12%), metals and alloy industries (5.03%), paper and printing industries(3.28%), beverages and tobacco products (3.06%). During the 1990s, textiles, chemicals,paper, machinery and metal industries recorded faster growth. Much of the industrial growthtook place in and around Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam cities. The computer softwareexports saw an impressive growth in recent years. The prominent among household industriesis handlooms. The growth of industry in the State in recent decades has been identified as one of theoffshoots of agricultural growth since 1970s. The higher agricultural productivity andincomes have contributed to the pace of industrial development through supply ofentrepreneurs and investment resources as well as a rising demand for manufactures. It is saidthat a rapid accumulation of agricultural surpluses among the top segment of peasants andlandlords in the green revolution period, limited opportunities for further investment inagriculture in these regions due to land ceiling legislation in early 1970s, the rise of membersof peasant families to political prominence and their ability to influence the industrial andcredit policies contributed to the flow of agricultural surpluses into industry. The decadebetween 1975 and 1985 is considered a golden era for industrialization in the State. Poverty remains one of the major challenges to the Government and society in AP, aselsewhere in the country. The estimates of poverty by Minhas, et al, Expert Group, PlanningCommission and the World Bank, using State-specific poverty lines, show that poverty in APhas been declining since 1957-58, although the rate of decline varies from one estimate to theother. But the rate of decline is sharper since 1973-74. The rate of decline has been larger inAP as compared to several other States and India as a whole. The Planning Commissionestimates of rural and urban poverty in AP show that poverty has declined from 48.86 percent in 1973-74 to 22.19 in 1993-94. The figures for rural poverty were 48.49 and 15.92 andfor urban population 50.61 and 38.33 for the respective years. The latest government figuresshow that there has been a significant decline in recent years in the prevalence of both urbanand rural poverty in AP: the rural poverty had fallen to 11.05 (5.8 millions) per cent in1999-2000 and urban poverty to 26.63 per cent (6.1 millions), the combined poverty levelbeing 15.77 per cent (11.9 millions) (Government of AP, 2002). However, the NationalSample Survey Organisation’s 55th Round on Employment-Unemployment shows that therate of decline of poverty in AP was not this high (Sundaram, 2001). Several studies find that rural poverty is inversely related to agricultural production: inyears of higher production poverty falls and in years of low production or drought it rises.But it is surprising that the pace of reduction of poverty has slowed down since 1983, duringa period in which the poverty alleviation programmes assumed a large size and food subsidy(Rs.2 a kg rice) was implemented. Thus, it is difficult to establish any likely relation betweeneconomic reforms and poverty levels and also the relation between welfare schemes anddecline in the levels of poverty. Despite several welfare schemes the incidence of povertytends to be higher among the backward and scheduled castes and scheduled tribe population.While poverty causes hardship to those who have to live under it, it has its own political andelectoral implications. The promise of providing basic physical needs dominated the electionstrategies of the political parties in recent decades because of prevalence of poverty. We oftenhear that votes are purchased with money and other allurements. The poor people are soughtto be divided on caste and communal bases. The ‘public servants’ become arrogant andbehave as it they are masters because of the preponderance of poor people, who tend to befearful of the elites and hence submissive. Politicians tend to be corrupt and populist at thesame time.
11Society It is well known that Indian society and politics acquire a unique character because of itscaste structure. The role of caste factor occupied central place in the analysis of Indianpolitics, although some would argue that the role of caste has been over emphasized and thatIndian voters have been exercising their franchise based more considerations other than caste.It is somewhat difficult to relate class category to political process and electoral behaviour,and in any case there has been not much data available on this dimension. One finds it easy toemploy caste category, since it is easily felt and well articulated in politics. Since studies oncaste and class reveal a great deal of overlap between caste and class categories, someanalysts may as well presume that analysis of caste politics would also subsume, to certainextent, the analysis of class politics. Due to the changes in social relationships and the logic of universal adult franchise in afairly open and competitive electoral system the nature of caste identities and inter-casterelations have been undergoing continuous transformation in AP. Much of the research on thesociology of Indian politics in the post-Independence period has focussed on how thedominant castes came to occupy important place in politics and the means they have adoptedto retain political control. In the recent past the emerging elites from the backward andscheduled castes have been putting pressure for a ‘due’ share in the power structure. As aresponse, the established political parties have provided more room to these new elites at thehigher echelons of the party and public/political offices. The caste structure in AP is akin to the one extant in most other parts of India, if one viewsit as a traditional social order in which people are functionally dependent on each other butseparated as distinct groups stratified as high and low. But the nature of caste system hasbeen undergoing tremendous changes over hundreds of years, with varying patterns indifferent regions and as such one should not view caste as a fixed and rigid social relation.All castes, in AP, except the Brahmans, are coterminous with the linguistic boundaries of theState, though they share several features with other castes similarly placed in the socialhierarchy in other States. The distinct character of AP State politics can be attributed to alarge extent to this feature. It may be pointed out that there is a difficulty in speaking of auniform caste structure in AP too, as there are inter-regional and intra-regional variations. Forexample, the three north coastal districts differ very much from those of central and southcoastal region. There are also variations between the three regions of the State (Suri, 1996).As such we can only think in terms of broad outlines of caste structure in the State. Anotherproblem is that reliable data on the population proportions of various castes are not available.We can speak of only approximate figures (Ram Reddy, 1989). Often the leaders of variouscastes make exaggerated claims about their caste population. Among the dwijas (twice-born castes) the Brahmans constitute about 2-3 per cent of theState’s population. They held a pre-eminent position in society for a long time, whichcontinued till about the middle of the twentieth century. They were the first to take to Englisheducation and occupied important positions in the British administrative set up. They couldmake use of the initial advantages of the British rule and dominated the political scene duringfreedom struggle and in the initial years after Independence. Most of them gradually severedtheir rural roots and land connection and steadily shifted to urban areas due to a variety ofsocial and economic reasons. As members of a community, which has a historical head start,they are still in large numbers in the bureaucracy, mass media, academic institutions andother vital professions such as law, scientific research, medicine and management. The
12Vysyas, known as Komatis in the State, constitute another 2-3 per cent. Engaged in thetraditional occupation of trade, Komatis are omnipresent in the State. We find some wealthybusinessmen among the Komatis and the members of the caste carry on most of the trades –textiles, grain, banking, money-lending, grocery, shop-keeping, pawn-broking, etc. Andcurrently they are also engaged in entrepreneurial activities of bigger magnitude. Theirmembers are more or less equally distributed in all the districts. Rajus, who claim Kshatriyastatus, are mostly confined to the north and central coastal regions, may constitute about 1 percent. The non-Brahman caste groups such as the Reddis, Kammas, Kapus and Velamas, whosemain occupation has been cultivation, are the most important social groups in the State, interms of numerical strength, land control and access to political power. The term ‘dominantcaste’, coined by Srinivas, suits them very well. In the olden days they had enjoyed powerand prestige analogous to Kshatriyas in the North. Some of these peasant communitiesconsider themselves as the local variants of the ruler caste. All these peasant communitiesexperienced a continuous ascendancy in Andhra society and politics since 1920s. The hugeirrigation systems constructed in the later nineteenth century, to which a mention has beenmade earlier, enabled some members of these communities to accumulate agrarian surplusesand use the economic resources to lead a better life and go for English education. A class ofrich peasantry began to emerge among these castes in the twentieth century pre-Independenceperiod due to, among several other factors, rise in the price of agricultural produce, moneylending and trade in commercial crops. Their economic and educational advancement hadenabled them to challenge and dilute the Brahman dominance in the cultural and politicalspheres (Suri, 2000; Ramakrishna, 1993: 99-118; Innaiah, 1985; Barnett, 1976; Baker, 1976;Washbrook, 1976; Baker and Washbrook, 1975; Irshick, 1969). Their participation in theanti-colonial and anti-feudal struggles politicized them a great deal and produced a rich cropof leadership. Reddis, who constitute about 8-10 per cent of the State’s population, are distributed in allthe three regions of the State, particularly in the five Telengana districts of Karimnagar,Warangal, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar and Khammam, the Circar districts of Guntur, Prakasamand Nellore and the four districts of Rayalaseema. In the past they were rulers in some partsof Andhra Pradesh. The caste title ‘Reddi’ comes from the Telugu word ‘redu’ or ‘rat’, whichmeans ‘ruler’. During the medieval period they were described as the enterprising class ofwarriors and military chiefs. In modern period, most of the paligars in Rayalaseema (chiefs oflarge territories till the early nineteenth century) and jagirdars, muktedars and deshmukhs (thefeudatory chiefs) of Telengana regions came from Reddi community. The state-wide spreadof the Reddis, their higher proportion in terms of their numbers among the peasant proprietorcastes in Andhra Pradesh, their traditional power in many districts and villages and gloriousantecedents of local rule in many parts of the State, coupled with their political initiative andinvolvement in the Congress and Communist politics before and after Independence, and theavailability of better caste leadership from village, mandal, district and the State levels, andabove all, their firm base in agricultural wealth, give Reddis a preeminence among thepeasant castes in Andhra Pradesh (Rasheeduddin Khan, 1969). The Kammas, who constitute about 4-5 per cent, are mostly concentrated in the Krishnaand Godavari delta and are in considerable numbers in Nellore, Chittoor, Ananthapur andKhammam districts. The central coastal Andhra region, consisting of East and WestGodavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts, according to one Kamma caste historian,was once known as ‘Kamma Rashtra’. The Kammas consider themselves as Kshatriyas in theVarna hierarchy, and recall their privileged position in the reign of the Kakatiya dynasty
13(13-14th centuries). The Kammas of coastal Andhra carried out a non-Brahman movement in1920s and later. A pronounced hostility appears between the Kammas and Brahmans, perhapsbecause the latter view the Kammas as rivals not only in professions but also in cultural andintellectual arenas. Much of the analysis of state politics has been hinged upon the Kamma-Reddi rivalry in the State, although it is often exaggerated and distorted. The Velamas constitute another 1-2 per cent. They are as rich as the Reddis and theKammas and are largely concentrated in few areas -- mainly in the two Telangana districts ofKarimnagar and Khammam and in the Northern coastal district of Visakhapatnam. In smallernumbers, they are scattered in the Telangana districts of Warangal, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar,Nalgonda and Nizamabad, and in the Circar districts of Godavaris, Krishna, Guntur andNellore. Reddis and Velamas were the landlords and constituted the bedrock of the feudalsocial and political order in the pre-Independence period. The Kapu category makes up anywhere between 10 to 12 per cent. There are various sub-castes within the Kapu category, such as Telaga, Balija, Kapu, Munnuru Kapu, Ontari, etc.Nowadays they want to be addressed as Kapus only. Like Reddis they have a statewidespread, although there are few inter-sub caste marriages and inter-regional marriages withinthese communities. It seems the term Kapu is a generic category, which denotes cultivator. Itis said that once all the peasant communities were considered Kapus. In fact, in the 1921Census, the present Reddis were enumerated as Kapus. In several places the landowningcultivators are addressed by the agricultural labourers as ‘Kapu’. The Kapus keep the castetitle ‘Naidu’, but the Kammas too use this title in certain areas. Various caste groups which are known by the names of traditional hereditary occupations,mainly artisan and service occupations, constitute a large proportion of the population inAndhra society. These castes are today known as ‘backward castes’. Out of the 50 oddbackward castes listed by the government of the State, the major ones are the Yadava,Gowda, Padmasali, Rajaka, Mangali (who call themselves Nai Brahman), Kamsali (ViswaBrahman), Mudiraju, Boya, Waddera, Uppara, Kummari, Kammari, Medara, Pallekari(Agnikula Kshtriya), Perika, Gandla, Bhatraju and Kalavanthavulu. They add up to about35-40 per cent, although the Second AP Backward Classes Commission (1982) estimated thatthe BCs constitute 44 per cent of the State’s population. All these castes have their caste prideand regard themselves as having high social status, different from the one ascribed by theorthodox Brahmans. The Padmasalis and the Kamsalis regard themselves as the dwijas andculturally superior to several other communities. Some of these castes, such as the Yadavasand Gowdas, are engaged in cultivation, enjoy a good social standing and in recent years aregrowing in strength in education, employment and economic and political ascendancy. Thesecastes have been given reservation under OBC category since 1961. Andhra Pradesh is one of the major States with a large concentration of the ScheduledCastes (SCs), with about eight per cent of the total SC population of the country. There areabout 59 Scheduled Castes in the State with a share of about 16 per cent of the State’spopulation. Their proportion is more than 14 per cent in 19 districts. More than two-thirds(68%) of the SC population are agricultural labourers. The proportion of the SCs living belowthe poverty line would be also very high. Large majority of them are still subjected to socialdiscrimination, especially in rural areas, though the situation has undergone a great deal afterIndependence. In recent years the term ‘dalit’ is preferred to denote these communities.Malas and Madigas are the two major Scheduled Castes, which together constitute more than90 per cent of the State’s SC population. Numerically the Madigas are slightly more innumber than the Malas, but the latter are better placed in terms of education, urban
14employment and political opportunities. During the late 90s the Madigas waged a struggle forimproving their lot in general, and for categorization of SC reservations to ensure equaldistribution of benefits among the subgroups of the SCs (Suri, 2001; Balagopal, 2000). There are about 33 tribes, forming about 7 per cent of the population of the State. Koya,Banjara/Lambada, Konda reddi, Gond, Chenchu, Yerukala, Yanadi, Savara, and Jatavu arethe major ones. There are exclusive tribal tracts in the northern Circars and Telangana. Theeducational level among the tribals is extremely low and sections of some tribes still liveunder the conditions of natural economy. In the agency areas they are the victims of landalienation, indebtedness and bonded labour. There is also growing awareness among thesepeople about their rights and they are organized into their respective associations to wagecampaign and struggles to secure constitutional guarantees and protect their customary rightsover their lands.
15 III An Outline of Politics and Elections in Andhra and Telengana prior to the Formation of Andhra Pradesh Most of the tendencies and issues that came to the fore since the formation of the State ofAndhra Pradesh could be seen in an embryonic form during the period of State formationitself. The period between independence in August 1947 and the formation of the State inNovember 1956 saw a series of militant struggles in the Andhra and Telengana regions,policy measures that brought about far reaching changes in the agrarian structure, changes incaste and class relations, the emergence of new leadership from peasant communities,factional strife within the Congress and also its consolidation and political realignmentsamong various political forces of the State.Politics in Andhra Region: 1947-56 At the time of independence the Congress party in Andhra was rife with factional rivalries,which often made use of caste identities. There were two prominent factions in the APCC.One was led by the legendary figure, Tanguturi Prakasam, known as thee ‘Lion of Andhra’(Rudrayya Chowdary, 1971). The other group was led by Pattabhi Sitharamayya, anothersenior Brahman Congress leader, and subsequently the all India Congress president during1949-50 and the official Congress historian (Prasanna Kumar, 1978). The elections to theoffices of the leader of the Madras Congress Legislature Party and the president of the APCCprovided the occasions for a trial of strength between these rival groups. In a keen contest tothe APCC presidentship in April 1951 Sanjiva Reddy, sponsored by the Pattabhi group,defeated Ranga, whom Prakasam supported. The tussle between Ranga and Sanjiva Reddywas looked upon as a turning point in the Kamma-Reddi rivalry that was emerging in AP inthe post-independence period. The election outcome led to the exit of Prakasam and Rangafrom the Congress and the formation of a new party by them, called Praja Party.Subsequently when the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP) was formed in June 1951, thePraja Party in Andhra merged with the KMPP. But Ranga wanted dissociated himself fromPrakasam later and formed in April 1951 Krishikar Lok Party (KLP), with himself as itschairman. Thus the Andhra Congress presented a picture of disunity and appeared that it wasgetting fragmented very soon, unlike in other States. While the Congress appeared to be weak in the State, perhaps weakest in the major Statesof India, the Communist, on the other hand, appeared to be gaining in strength. The growth ofthe Communist party prior to the formation of the State was extremely fast in Andhra andTelengana. The Communist party in Andhra can be said to have founded in September 1934when the Andhra Provincial Organizing Committee was formed at a meeting of communistrepresentatives from different districts at Vijayawada. The communists started LabourProtection League in 1935 as an open platform and started working in different towns ofcoastal districts. Later they joined the Congress Socialist party (CSP) and soon became itsleaders (Satyanarayana, 1983; Krishna Rao, 1989; Krishna Rao, 199). The communists grewas leaders of the peasant associations and led militant peasant struggles in some of thezamindari areas. The strength of the communists began to grow at a rapid pace during theSecond World War and after. But after independence, as a fall out of militant struggles wagedby the communists in Andhra and Telengana regions, the party in Andhra area was banned inJanuary 1948. When the ban was lifted the Communist party and its mass fronts, especiallythe student’s wing, actively participated in the agitation for the formation of Andhra State.
16 In the first General Elections to the Madras Assembly in 1952, popular support enjoyed bydifferent parties became clear. The Congress party in the Andhra area suffered a set back.Many of its Ministers and stalwarts were defeated. The Communist party emerged as thesingle largest party in Andhra region with 41 seats (out of 63 contested) and about 25 per centvote. Only Kerala (then Travancore-Cochin) could come closer to Andhra in terms of theelectoral support enjoyed by the communists in those days. Although the Congress securedabout 30 per cent vote, it could get only 40 seats out of 133 it had contested (Table 1). TheCommunist party was highly successful in the central coastal region. Apart from the supportit enjoyed among peasant classes and agricultural workers, the agitational activity of the partyfor a separate statehood strengthened the position of the communists. The poor performanceof the Congress was generally attributed to the internal factional rivalries, the presence of theKMPP and the KLP as its rivals and the evasive attitude of the Central leadership of the partytowards the demand for a separate linguistic State. After the General Elections the legislativemembers of the KLP agreed to join the Congress Legislature Party as ‘associated members’.The KMPP merged itself with the Socialist Party to form the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). Thus, when the Andhra State was finally formed in October 1953 the Congress strength inthe Assembly was only 40, and with the support of the KLP and independents it formed thelargest group with 60 members. As a result only a coalition government was possible. In apolitically correct step, the Congress offered the Chief Minister’s post to Prakasam, thepresident of the PSP, provided he agreed to return to its fold. Prakasam could not resist thebait of the top most executive office and the prestige of going down in Andhra history as thefirst CM of the State. The ‘old man’ (b.1872) found little difficulty leaving the PSP andreturning to the Congress, to become the first Andhra CM. As a result the KMPP group in thePSP, which supported Prakasam Ministry, left the PSP and formed the Praja party (PP). N.Sanjiva Reddy, who also lobbied for Chief Ministership, became the Deputy Chief Minister. The coalition government from the beginning was a precarious one. The KLP withdrew itssupport to the Prakasam Ministry, on the issue of location of the capital. The location ofcapital at Kurnool in Rayalaseema region was looked upon as a victory for the dominantReddi caste, some of whose leadership was emerging as a cohesive political group within theCongress party. Prakasam Ministry could not survive for more than a year. If fell inNovember 1954 after a motion of no-confidence on the issue of prohibition, supported by thecommunists, the KLP and the PSP members, was carried by a majority of one vote. The mid-term elections in Andhra were held in February 1955. It turned out to be a‘critical election’ in Andhra political history. On the eve of the election the Communist partywas confident to form the next Ministry in the State. Sensing the danger and the strength ofthe Communist party and given the experience of the 1952 elections, when the Communistscould win a large number of seats due to the division of the Congress vote, the Congressleaders realized the need for consolidating all the forces opposed to communists. TheCongress could forge an electoral alliance with the KLP and the Praja Party to form UnitedCongress Front. On the other hand, communists, due to overestimation of their electoralprospects and doctrinaire attitudes, failed to forge an alliance with either the splinter groupsof the Congress party or the PSP. While all the anti-communist forces formed a powerfularray, the communists had ideologically outdistanced themselves from other political partiesand groups and this proved to be disastrous to the communists and highly advantageous to theCongress party. The Congress leaders also launched a virulent attack on the communists aspresenting a danger to family, private property and democracy. The socialist orientation ofthe policies of the Congress party, the impact of some agrarian reforms and praise the
17socialist Soviet leadership showered on the Congress all put together had taken the wind outof the sails of the Communist party. The grand strategy of the Congress party paid very well, as it secured a decisive majorityof 119 seats on its own, with about 40 per cent of vote. Out of a total 196 seats the UnitedCongress Front won 146 seats with an aggregate vote of about 52 per cent. The communistsgot a paltry 15 seats although they secured about 31 per cent vote (Table 1). The election tooka heavy toll of other parties: all the candidates fielded by the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), 18of the 45 PSP candidates and more than two-thirds (111 of 162) of the independents lost theirdeposits. Paradoxically, the Communist party polled more votes than earlier, both in absoluteterms and in terms of percentage, but lost a good number of seats. It lost heavily in its stronghold of coastal districts such as Godavaris, Krishna, Guntur and Nellore. The rout of theCommunist party and the debacle of other parties enabled the Congress to emerge as thedominant party in the region. Thus the results of mid-term elections indicated the onset of anew era of Congress dominance.Politics in Telengana Region: 1947-56 Before its merger the Hyderabad State, officially called the Dominion of His ExaltedHighness the Nizam of Hyderabad, was the largest of all the princely States in British India,and comprised of three linguistic sub-regions of Telengana (Telugu speaking), Marathwada(Marathi speaking), and Karnataka (Kannada speaking). What was started in the early 1920sas a campaign to promote Telugu language and culture in the Telugu-speaking areas of theHyderabad State got gradually transformed by 1930s into an effective mass-based, peasantoriented forum for the articulation of the demands of the Telugu population of Telengana. By1937, the Andhra Maha Sabha (Andhra Conference) became strong enough to demandresponsible government in Hyderabad. The Hyderabad State Congress was formed in 1938. Ittried to link the popular democratic movement in Hyderabad with the larger nationalmovement for independence. Around the same time, a Muslim organization, Majlis-i-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen (MIM) –association for Muslim unity – had emerged on the political scene, advocating theestablishment of a Muslim dominion in Hyderabad as a permanent arrangement. The Majliswas supported by the Muslim elite – Ministers, bureaucrats, professionals and courtiers of theNizam. Its para-military wing, the Razakars, joined the Nizam’s army and the police, whichunleashed a reign of terror against the communists and the AMS activists as well as someCongress sections, who were fighting for the liberation of Hyderabad from the Nizam’s rule. The communists tried to radicalize the movement, by taking up the questions of tenancyrights, forced labour, and the oppressive regime of the Nizam and the feudal lords. By 1945the communist had captured the leadership of the AMS and increased mass support to theirprogramme of land reform and anti-Nizam struggle. They took to armed struggle andestablished parallel government in parts of Telengana, what was known as raat-ki-sarkar(rulers at night). Communists declared about 4000 villages as liberated, occupied thegovernment lands, abolished forced labour, imposed land ceilings (a ceiling limit of 200acres) and distributed the surplus lands to the tenants and poorer sections (Sundarayya, 1972).When the Nizam’s State was tottering under the blows of the communists, the Indian militaryentered the Hyderabad State in September 1948 and without much resistance capturedHyderabad, within five days. Hyderabad State was merged into the Indian Union.Immediately the jagirdari system was abolished, ceiling on land ownership was imposed and
18the cultivators were given proprietary right on their land. Similarly, a tenancy Act gaveprotection to the tenants (Khusro, 1958). The communists continued their armed struggle against the Indian government, despiteserious differences among the leaders whether to continue the armed struggle in the changedcircumstances. In the process the Communist party suffered immense losses as hundreds ofits activists were killed. Although the communists failed in realizing their objective ofestablishing a ‘people’s state’ in Hyderabad, the impact of communist movement onTelengana society and politics was immense. It brought about a new awareness among thepeople, especially the oppressed sections of the society. The land reform policies introducedby the government during 1948-50 in Telengana, which were regarded as the most bold andprogressive ones at that time in India, could be understood as a result of and a response to themilitant agrarian struggles waged by the communists. After the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, the Congress had emerged as thebiggest political party in the Hyderabad State. In the 1952 elections in Hyderabad, theCongress entered the electoral arena as the party that had ushered in democracy in Hyderabadand freed the oppressed people from the shackles of the feudal Raj. The Communist party,which was banned since the launch of armed struggle, did not contest the elections underparty name, although on the eve of elections most of its leaders were released form theprison. It fought the elections under the banner of the People’s Democratic Front (PDF),which won 42 out of 78 seats it contested. The Congress, with better organization and supportof the Central leadership secured a clear majority in Hyderabad State by capturing 93 out ofthe 173 seats it contested. However, if we take Telengana region alone it did not get majority,but emerged only as the single largest party (Table 1). In Telengana region the communistshad emerged as a strong force with 37 seats (30.75% vote) against 44 seats (38.85%) for theCongress. As the Congress captured an absolute majority in Hyderabad State Assembly, itformed the first popular Ministry in March 1952, with Ramakrishna Rao as the CM. HisMinistry continued in office till the merger of Telengana with Andhra to constitute the Stateof Andhra Pradesh. On the formation of Andhra Pradesh on 1st November 1956, Neelam Sanjiva Reddybecame the first CM of the enlarged State. A combined Legislative Assembly with 103MLAs from Telengana region and 194 MLAs of the Andhra Legislative Assembly came intoexistence. The party position in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly at the time of theState formation was Congress-163, Communist-51, PSP-24, KLP-22, Praja Party-5, SCF-3,and Independents-29. While the creation of Andhra Pradesh had ended one type offactionalism, especially among the Brahman leaders, it paved the way to a new type offactionalism. Sanjiva Reddy tried to accommodate diverse factional, regional, caste andcommunal groups in the Ministry. But with five Reddis finding place in his Cabinet a newphase of Reddi domination began in State politics. Within a few months of the formation of the State, once again there was a trial of strengthbetween the Congress and the Communist parties in the second General Elections in 1957.The dominance of the Congress party became amply clear when it won 35 out of the 42 seatswith about 52 per cent of vote (Table 2). There was a perceptible increase in the Congressvote in the districts that were earlier considered to be the strongholds of the Communist party,such as Nalgonda, Warangal, Khammam, Karimnagar and Medak. Thus election results tiltedin favour of the Congress, making its position more stable in the Legislature and outside.They signalled the beginning of a new era of Congress dominance in State politics. The
19communists never recovered from this blow, although they continued for some more time asa major party in the State. Thus, we find from the time of independence to the formation of the larger State of AndhraPradesh, Telengana and Andhra people passed through a period of rapid political changes,full of diverse possibilities and uncertainties. While the ground was prepared for the eventualmerger of the two regions in 1956, the seeds of most of the political trends and intricateproblems that cropped up later were sown during this period. Several political processes thatwere set into motion during that time are still unfolding and several dilemmas of that periodare yet to be resolved, although their intensity and importance vary from time to time andtheir political manifestations take different forms. IV The Era of Congress Dominance, 1957-1982 For nearly two decades after the formation of the State the Congress party remaineddominant in State politics, as it won all the elections held for the Parliament and LegislativeAssembly in the State since 1957. Even when the ‘Congress system’ was breaking downelsewhere during the 1960s, especially when the non-Congress parties formed governmentsin several States in 1967, AP remained the ‘citadel’ of the Congress party. Whatever thethreats that it encountered came from factions within, often taking the toll of the incumbentChief Ministers, without either posing a challenge to the Congress dominance in the State orthe central leadership. Its ‘retentive capacity’ proved to be very high, as the party was able toretain different factions and groups in the party fold, often by the intervention of the centralleadership. The period also witnessed a further decline in the strength of the strength of thecommunists. Other parties could not develop in a way to constitute an alternative to theCongress and as such remained at ‘periphery’. This was also the period during which theCongress had emerged as a ‘catch-all’ party, with an overflow of electoral support. However,the decline of the Congress had set in by late 1970s as the negative side of factionalism beganto reveal itself. Sections hitherto supported the party began to opt for other parties and thetraditional non-Congress elements began look for an alternative, paving the way for theemergence of a regional party. The present section deals with some of these aspects. The consolidation of the Congress party began with the emergence of the State itself. Likein other States, it had certain advantages as the party that led the freedom struggle, of havingwell-educated, experienced and highly respected leadership and a well-developedorganization in all regions of the State. By mid 50s the party acquired an image of aprogressive one trying to restructure the society on socialistic lines, without destroying theprivate enterprise and individual liberties. The impact of reservations in education,employment and politics began to be slowly felt. The integration of Andhra and Telenganaregions led to a preponderance of Reddis in power structure, who became the mainstay of theCongress party in the State for decades to come. The introduction of the three-tieredpanchayati raj system in AP – Gram Panchayat, Panchayati Samithi, and Zilla Parishad – in1959 further strengthened the Congress hold in the rural areas. The ‘democraticdecentralization’ provided fresh avenues of power and prestige to the rural elites. Theyutilized government machinery, resources and patronage in exercising control andcommanding loyalty from the lower classes. Factional networks were built right from thevillage to Samithi to district and to State level. These rival factions within the Congress party
20became crucial in Congress functioning ((Gray, 1963; Venkatarangaiah and Ram Reddy,1967; Ram Reddy, 1977). Unlike several other States, AP did not have a ‘supreme leader’ at the State level, in thesense of one who could authoritatively take decisions in organizational and governmentalmatters and who enjoys an overwhelming following in the general public. The stature of mostof the leaders, who played some role in the freedom struggle and politics later, was on acomparable level. This led to multiple power centres within the Congress party. Just at a timewhen Sanjiva Reddy’s hold on the government and party appeared to be solid, he waspersuaded by Jawaharlal Nehru to take over the Congress presidentship in January 1960. Thathad reopened the doors of factional struggle in the APCC once again (Rasheeduddin Khan,1969: 45). There was division in the State Congress on choosing successor to Sanjiva Reddy. Finallythe choice fell on D. Sanjeevaiah, a young and energetic dalit leader from Rayalaseema. Hewas the first dalit to become CM of a State in India. Among the reasons advanced for hiscandidature for the position of CM, one was that as a dalit at the helm of affairs he wouldneutralize or slowly erode the communist influence among the weaker sections, especially theMalas and the Madigas, and bring these numerically large social groups closer to theCongress party. In pursuance of this strategy, which also suited him to promote his ownpopularity, Sanjeevaiah began to woo the ‘weaker sections’ through several means. In May1961 his government issued orders providing for 25 per cent of reservation of seats ineducational institutions and jobs in government services to the socially and educationallybackward classes or the OBCs (a euphemism for backward castes). While the programmesinitiated by Sanjeevaiah were generally welcomed, they also led to resentment among theforward caste leaders, who formed a strong opposition within the Congress in the name of‘Unity Group’. The organizational wing was dominated by forward caste leaders and itcreated friction between the ‘organizational’ and ‘ministerial’ wings of the party. However, itcan be said that the policies of Sanjeevaiah government helped in the gradual building of apowerful and reliable support structure for the Congress among the lower castes, whoconstituted the bulk of the population in the State and accounted for an overwhelmingmajority of the proletariat (Elliot, 1970: 166). During this period the Congress had to contend with a new all-India political party, theSwatantra party (Party for Independence), which came into existence in 1959. N.G. Ranga,one time a popular leader of Andhra and a known champion of peasants’ interests, resignedthe position of secretary to the Congress party in Parliament, to become one of its founderleaders and its chairman. Ranga had been a strong opponent and a bitter critic of communistpolitics in the State. The Swatantra party in AP provided a platform to those opposedcommunism and also the socialist-oriented policies of the Congress, that it feared wouldresult in too many state controls putting restrictions on individual liberties and privateinitiative thus impeding economic progress and social well-being in the long run. Swatantraparty was frankly conservative and emerged as the authentic ‘right’ party. It favoured freeand private enterprise and protection of peasant interests. However, belying its expectations,there was no exodus from the Congress into it. Nor it was able to attract non-Congress, non-communist elements as it was expected to do in 1959. Thus, in 1962 elections the Congress faced two major opponents – the communists on theleft and the Swatantra on the right, justifying its characterization as a centrist party. For thefirst time, after the State formation, Assembly elections were held in the entire State. In theelections the Congress polled 47.4 per cent of votes winning 177 seats out of a total of 300.
21The communists faced the elections with an obvious handicap due to the newly demonstratedbelligerence of China and the consequent divisions in the party. The equivocal stand of theleft wing of the CPI, known as the pro-China wing, made an adverse impact on the agitatednationalist mind. There was a sharp decline in their vote – a drop of 10 percentage pointscompared to the earlier elections (from 29 per cent to 19 per cent), although they could winmore number of seats (51). It emerged as the single largest party after the Congress, ahead ofthe Swatantra. The Swatantra party won 19 seats (nine from Rayalaseema, seven fromCircars and only three from Telengana) accounting for 10.4 per cent votes (Table 1). Oneimportant feature of this election was the elimination of socialist parties, which played animportant role in State politics earlier. The combined vote of Samyukta Socialists and PrajaSocialists was below one per cent. All but one of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh’s 70 candidateslost deposits. During the period between the third and fourth General Elections India witnessedmomentous political changes in the country at large. The Chinese aggression, Nehru’sdemise, split in the Communist party and war against Pakistan came one after the other inquick succession. Among these, the first three had great impact on the State politics. Theleadership vacuum created by Nehru’s death was sought to be filled by a groups of seniorCongress leaders (known as the ‘Syndicate’) consisting of some strongmen of different majorStates, which included Sanjiva Reddy from AP. It made the factional fights more virulent inthe State. The split in the CPI into a moderate wing (CPI) and an extremist wing (CPM) had farreaching consequences to AP politics. The reasons for the split in the communist movementat the international and national levels are well known. While the ideological controversiesand differences over strategy and tactics have their own place in the split, the relativestrengths of two factions differed from State to State due to specific situation that prevailed indifferent States. What distinguished AP from other States, as far as the split was concerned,was that the party was split almost vertically, both claiming to be the legitimate successors ofthe undivided party. Compared to the communist pyramid with rigid and centrally controlledparty structure, which does not allow dissenting factions to survive in the party or tolerateinternal opposition to the ‘party line’, the Congress party, with its loose organizationalstructure approximating the ‘stratarchy’ as described by Eldersveld, appeared to be moredemocratic. It had been more flexible, open and accommodative to diverse interests anddivergent views. It allowed one faction to dominate the scene for some time and anotherfaction at some other time. It did not close doors for dissidents, allowing them to functionwithin, unless some one in sheer frustration leaves the party on his own. On the other hand the ‘rightist’ Swatantra party also could never become a strong politicalforce in the State. It proved to be no match to the Congress in playing the caste and regionalfactors to build up support. It could not make use of the situation arising from the factionaltroubles in the Congress or the split in the Communist movement to strengthen itself.Although initially some regarded Swatantra as the ‘real opponent’ to the Congress, it couldnot increase its sphere of influence beyond some parts of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.Virtually it was a non-entity in Telengana. As time went on there were more defections fromthis party into the Congress. The party in AP mainly articulated the grievances and demandsof the rural land owning classes even as much of its support base consisted of rural richpeasantry and large landowners. The party leaders openly declared that theirs was a peasantparty. Precisely because of its ‘kulak’ character, it found it difficult to mobilize the support ofagricultural workers and marginal peasants. In fact, the party activities in AP appeared to beat variance with its all India stance to promote market economy and private enterprise. For
22instance, the party in AP vehemently fought against the proposed land ceilings andchallenged the State government to bring such laws on urban property, business, employeesand industrialists. The bias towards agriculturists and opposition to accumulation of wealth inurban classes had adverse impact on the growth of the party. Another important problem forthe Swatantra was that the Congress leaders too hailed from a similar background as theSwatantra’s and they too claimed to stand for the protection and promotion of peasants’interests. The 1967 elections were held in the wake of a mass agitation in Andhra region for locatinga steel plant at Visakhapatnam, under consideration at that time by the Central government,(Jatkar, 1979). The Anglo-American consortium, in its experts’ report, felt thatVisakhapatnam could be a suitable place for that and the Union Ministry of Steel hadaccepted it. However, other States such as Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Mysore too broughtpressure to set up steel plants there. Fears grew among Andhras that the location might bechanged to appease other State leaders doing injustice to the State in the matter ofindustrialization. In July 1965 the AP Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution for thesteel plant at Visakhapatnam during the Fourth Five-year Plan period. Sanjiva Reddy, who was the Union Minister for Steel, accused his opponent and the CMof AP, Bramhananda Reddy, of fomenting unrest in the State by whipping up popularemotions over the steel plant issue. What he meant was that the agitation was aimed toembarrass and defame him. Members of the Bramhananda Reddy (CM) group openlyaccused that Sanjiva Reddy failed to stand by the decision to set up steel plant in Andhra. Theagitation gradually gathered momentum and by October-November 1966 it turned militant.There were two aspects to this agitation. It reflected the anxiety as well as desire of thepeople to secure a proper share of public investment in industries in the country, because thegovernment was the largest investor in this field and a feeling that government would notyield unless popular pressure was brought on it. Secondly, it also reflected the power strugglebetween the rival groups in the Congress. The opposition parties tried to take advantage ofthe troubled situation by moving a no-confidence motion against the State government for itsmishandling of the steel plant issue. As a climax 67 MLAs of opposition parties (31 CPI, 20CPM, and eight Swatantra, two National Democrats, one SSP and five independents)resigned their membership of the Assembly in November 1966, just on the eve of the 1967general elections. But the opposition parties became mutually suspicious of each other. Eachof them did not want to see the other to gain in strength. The eagerness of opposition partiesin the State to strike at both the ruling Congress and rival opposition parties simultaneouslydamaged the prospects of opposition unity against the ruling party. The Congress won the election with a comfortable majority (Tables 1 & 2). The resultshowed that the Congress in AP, despite the open factional rivalries, was going strong whenit was losing ground in several other Indian States all over the country. The loss of Congressdominance in other States was due to the desertion of some sections, the consolidation ofnon-Congress forces under a single regional party (such as DMK in Tamil Nadu) or the unityof the non-Congress parties. In AP, however, neither of these factors was at work. Politicalanalysts and commentators spoke of Andhra Pradesh as the bastion of Congress hegemony inthe South. The combined strength of the communists came down from 51 in 1962 to a mere 20 in1967 elections. They were involved in their own fratricidal struggles. Together they couldwin only four seats in the coastal delta districts. While the CPI polled more votes than theCPM in 10 districts, the latter polled more votes in exactly same number of districts than the
23former. They were virtually decimated in their erstwhile strongholds. The final outcome wasthat the communists lost the position of main opposition to the Swatantra party, lost asizeable proportion of popular vote and many of its top leaders were defeated. The decline ofcommunist strength in AP was in contrast to the increase in the Left vote in other StateAssemblies and Union Parliament. Bharatiya Jana Sangh was successful for the first time tosend three of its party men to the Assembly. However, 69 out of its 80 candidates lost theirdeposits. Its popular support was as low as 2.1 per cent. It bore the character of an urban highcaste (especially the Vysyas) oriented party banking upon the Hindu vote. Socialist partieswere virtually wiped out. The period between 1969 and 1973 witnessed two massive and violent agitations, oneafter the other, with a demand for separate Statehood, first in Telengana and then in Andhraregion (Gray, 1971; Seshadri, 1970; Gray, 1974; Acharya, 1979b). The impetus andleadership for both the separatist agitations came not from the opposition parties but from the‘dissident’ factions of the Congress. These two agitations are classic examples of how thedisgruntled leaders in the ruling and dominant party could put the regional identity and asense of injustice that prevails among the people of a region to political use. The way theseseparatist agitations arose and experienced a sudden death also reveal the inner dynamics ofCongress party politics. What started as an agitation in Khammam district by a small group of students andemployees for ‘safeguarding’ domicile rules for employment in Telengana region, soonsnowballed into a major agitation spread over several districts. By early 1969 the TelenganaPraja Samithi (TPS) was established by a group of young lawyers, teachers and journalists,which set itself the task of coordinating activities of Telengana students and non-gazettedofficers (NGOs) in the State service. A feeling was generated that people from Andhra regionwere dominating in Telengana, cornering larger share of employment and growing rich inHyderabad City and around. The Telengana region and its people were discriminated by thegovernment and that the development of Telengana was possible only if it was a separateState, the leaders argued. Initially there were no professional politicians in the agitation.Shortly thereafter, Konda Lakshman resigned from the AP State Ministry and associatedhimself with the TPS. Channa Reddy, who was biding his time after he was forced to resignfrom the Union Ministry following a Supreme Court decision making his election in 1967invalid (due to malpractices), declared himself in favour of a separate State for Telengana andbecame the top leader of the TPS. He nursed a grievance against Bramhananda Reddy thatthe latter did not come to his rescue, when he was entangled in legal problems. A separateTelengana Congress Committee was formed including some Congress MLAs fromTelengana. In May-June 1969 there were clashes between police and demonstrators with police firingon the processions. The NGOs went on an indefinite strike, paralyzing district administration.Students boycotted colleges and universities. No harm was done to non-Andhra businessmenand settlers in Hyderabad. Large sums of money came form different interested groups tosustain the movement. The CM, Bramhananda Reddy, and the central leadership of theCongress stood firmly against bifurcation of the State. The leaders of the TPS began todemand the resignation of the CM, and his replacement by a Telengana Congressman. Morethan the safeguards and separate State, this demand later became more important. Thecommunist parties opposed the agitation describing it as diversionary, misguided and misled.A majority of Muslims remained indifferent, fearing that Telengana Hindus were morecommunal minded than the Andhras (Gray, 1971: 471). Even a majority of the CongressMLAs from Telengana were not in favour of separate State.
24 The fears of some in the TPS that the taking over of the movement by professionalpoliticians would mean that it would be used in the Congress factional struggles came true.By August 1969, the agitation began to wear out. Channa Reddy and others sent sufficientindications that they would reconcile if Bramhananda Reddy was asked to go. Interestinglyboth the factions in AP State Congress, opposing and spearheading the separate Telenganaagitation, stood by the side of Indira Gandhi when the Congress was split in November 1969.In the 1971 (March) mid-term elections to Parliament the Congress headed by Mrs. Gandhisecured a landslide victory in Andhra region. But the popularity of the TPS became evidentwhen it emerged victorious in 10 out of 14 seats in Telengana region. The High Command,wanting the TPS leaders to come back to the Congress fold, conceded some of the demandsof the TPS, including the removal of Bramhananda Reddy from CMship. As a result the TPSmerged with the Congress in August 1971. After consultations, PV Narasimha Rao, a leaderfrom Telengana without any factional affiliation, but highly loyal to Mrs. Gandhi, hademerged as the choice and became the first CM of AP from Telengana region on September30, 1971. Thus the ruling Congress party was able to reabsorb a section of its leadership whohad gone out of the party, to retain its electoral base, and to prevent the emergence of a rivalparty. While the opposition parties, which were expected to launch agitations and createembarrassing situations to the ruling party, appeared defensive and lackadaisical, thedissident Congress leaders took the credit of guiding and leading the agitation which led tothe downfall of the Congress Ministry. The continued dominance of the Congress reached its zenith in the 1972 AP Assemblyelections (Table 1). As part of Mrs. Gandhi strategy to undercut the dominance of theintermediary State leaders hailing from upper castes, the party wanted to give more seats to‘weaker sections’ in the name of restructuring the party leadership in the State. It createdsome psychological impact on the electorate. The number of women (26) and Muslims (10)legislators elected on Congress tickets had gone up. However, there was no significantincrease in the backward caste representatives (Bernstorff, 1973). The performance of theopposition parties touched a new low and all of them put together polled only 15.6 per centvotes and won 11 seats. However, what was significant was the large percentage of votespolled and seats secured by independents, although much of it was attributed to the rebelCongress candidates and internal opposition within the Congress. Following the 1972 Assembly elections PV Narasimha Rao again became the ChiefMinister. There were objections to his reappointment from other aspirants, but once theCentre’s wishes were made known he was ‘unanimously’ elected as leader by the Congresslegislature wing. A feeling of resentment had gained in Andhra region that the Congressleadership was trying to appease the Telengana people since separate Telengana agitation,ignoring the rightful interests of the Andhras. The students, youth and employees felt thatthey were deprived of opportunities in education and employment, even in State capital. Thespark that ignited the brewing discontent in Andhra was the Supreme Court judgment on 3rdOctober 1972 upholding Mulki rules as legally valid (under the Mulki rules – rules ofresidency in force in the Nizam’s Hyderabad State – no person could be appointed to asuperior or subordinate service of the State if he had not been a permanent resident of theHyderabad State for at least 15 years). While it was welcomed in the Telengana region, students in Andhra reacted swiftly to thejudgment by organizing meetings and strikes with a demand to scrap the Mulki rules if theintegrity of the State should be preserved. Total strikes (bandh) were organized and theAndhra NGOs went on an indefinite strike. At the State level the relations between Andhraand Telengana ministers deteriorated and they began to meet in separate regional groupings.
25The agitation got escalated as the Jana Sangh, Swatantra, some dissident Congress leadersand independents rallied together with a demand for separate Andhra. Supporters of PValleged that the movement was led by vested interests and landlords, as they were threatenedby the ‘progressive’ land reforms initiated by the PV government (Gray, 1974). But it isdifficult to say how far the land reform policies were responsible for the agitation. As in thecase of Telengana agitation the communists opposed bifurcation of the State, as they saw theproblem arising essentially due to imbalances in development between the two regions. Theycharacterized the agitation as reactionary since, according to them, it was launched to servethe interests of landlords and businessmen. However, the splinter naxalilte groups supportedboth the agitations. There were a series of meetings between the PM and the leaders fromAndhra and Telengana. A new formula was worked out rendering the continuance of Mulkirules unnecessary. PV resigned as part of the package as Mrs. Gandhi chose J. Vengala Rao(a Velama from Telengana region but a migrant from coastal Andhra, who was morefavourably inclined towards the Kammas and Andhras) as CM in December 1973. The two regional movements had demonstrated the strength of regional identities in Statepolitics. They had cut across caste divisions. The Reddi leaders of Telengana and Andhrafought against each other. They also showed that emotional integration between the people ofAndhra and Telengana had not been brought about. They also proved that when two regionswith unequal development were brought together, the people in the relatively backwardregion would develop a tendency to complain of ‘injustice’ and ‘neglect’. It was through theslogans of fighting against ‘injustice’, ‘neglect’ and ‘discrimination’ the emerging eliteswould seek to promote their self-interest. It is difficult to estimate the extent of the role ofenvy, jealousy and resentment in the separatist agitations. The dissident factions in theCongress in both the regions fanned these feelings with a motive to secure political powerthemselves. The same leaders, who vowed to sacrifice their lives in the cause of separateState, found no difficulty, immediately after the agitations, to become Ministers in theCongress government. They left the people bewildered and frustrated with their politicalmaneuvres. Another movement that attracted the attention of people during the 1970s in AndhraPradesh was the movement by ‘communist revolutionaries’, popularly known as Naxalitemovement, named after the abortive uprising of the peasants of Naxalbari area in WestBengal. Those who split away from the CPI to form the CPM in 1964 accused the CPIleadership, which was in control of the party, that it became revisionist and abandoned therevolutionary path. After the split some front rank leaders of the CPM, a large number ofthem being from Andhra Pradesh, inspired by the ‘China path’, felt that the Communist partyshould immediately wage an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian state as it stoodthoroughly exposed and the Indian masses were ready to wage an armed struggle. However,national leaders of the CPM maintained that armed struggle was not the only means availableto the communists in India in bringing about the revolution, although such a struggle mightbecome necessary to capture power in the crucial stages. As a result fissures developedwithin the CPM leaders and cadres. The ‘revolutionaries’ accused the CPM leadership fortrying to put chains on the revolutionary spirit of the people and termed it as ‘neo-revisionistbetrayal’. Once again the CPM was vertically split in the State in 1967. Those sections who left theCPM were temporarily united under the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee ofCommunist Revolutionaries (APCCCR), with an aim to launch a ‘new democratic revolution’against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal state headed by ‘comprador bourgeoisie’. Theycalled themselves Marxist-Leninists, although their guiding philosophy was Maoism.
26However, differences soon cropped up among them on the strategy, tactics and timing of thearmed struggle that further led to several splits within splits. One group led an armed strugglein Srikakulam district, primarily in tribal areas, which was hailed as ‘Yenan of India’ by theCPI(ML), with an aim to ‘seize’ state power. The armed struggle could not be sustained forlong. Another group tried to conduct armed struggle in Telengana area, but with little success(Mohan Ram, 1969; Shanta Sinha, 1979). They had to face severe repression by the state forseveral years, during which hundreds of their leaders and activists were killed, often in fakeencounters. However, as a result of the girijan struggles led by the Naxalites, the governmentbrought in legislation to protect the interest of the girijans and also introduced welfare anddevelopmental schemes meant for them. Although the Congress lost heavily in the crucial Lok Sabha elections held after the end of‘Emergency’ period in March 1977 in most of the States, the party stood its ground in AP bywinning 41 out of 42 seats in the State. While the Congress could secure only 34.5 per cent ofthe total votes polled in the country, in AP surprisingly it could secure 57.4 per cent votes(Table 2). Interestingly this was higher by two per cent than the votes it secured in the 1971elections, held at the height of Mrs. Gandhi popularity. For the first time the oppositionparties, except the communists, gave up their separate identities and came together to fightunder one symbol. The significant aspect of the election was that the Janata party secured 35per cent of vote, though it could win only one seat – that of Nandyala by Sanjiva Reddy. The defeat of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections in the country led someCongress stalwarts in the State to believe that it was a sinking ship. When Mrs. Gandhi splitthe party in January 1978 and declared it as the real Indian National Congress under herpresidentship there was a split in the State unit too majority of the senior leaders of the partychose to remain with the ‘official’ Congress led by Bramhananda Reddy. The APCCleadership also rejected Mrs. Gandhi’s new Congress party, describing its formation as‘illegal, unconstitutional and dictatorial, aimed at destroying collective leadership andestablishing personality cult.’ Channa Reddy was one prominent leader who played animportant role in the formation of Indira Congress in AP. Within a month of the formation of the new Congress party, elections were held to the APLegislative Assembly in February 1978. These elections became crucial because they wereseen as a test to judge the claims of the rival Congress parties (Acharya, 1979). To survivethey had to demonstrate their electoral strength. A good number of fresh candidates couldenter the fray as there was dearth of candidates for the Congress(I). There were mostlytriangular contests as the Congress (R) and Janata parties contested separately. TheCongress(I) won an absolute majority of seats (175 out of 294) in the elections, while theJanata party got 60 and the Congress (R) 30 (Table 1). The resilience of the Congress party could be seen from the fact that the same ChannaReddy who led the violent agitation not long ago for a separate Telengana State became theCM. For the first time a strange situation had arisen where the Congress was out of power atthe Centre and the State unit was in power. However, the Congress victory in the mid-termelections in 1980 changed the equation between the High Command and the leader of theCongress Legislature Party in the State. AP had the distinction of having four CMs during thetenure of the same legislature (1978-82), though the ruling party enjoyed a comfortablemajority throughout. Congress governments were pulled down not by the opposition parties,which generally happens in any parliamentary democracy, but by their own party men thattoo with the blessings of the party’s central leadership. The main difficulty for the new CM incomposing his Cabinet was in dropping some of the senior Ministers in the earlier Cabinet.