Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday apologised for the loss of lives during the Telangana statehood agitation.
Speaking to media persons here, the former Union minister also said creating a state or dividing a state was not child’s play and it was in response to people’s movement.
Describing suicide as an ‘unfortunate incident’, he said, “If in the people’s movement some people lost their lives in the agitation…we are sorry for that. But you can’t hold the (then) central government responsible for that.” He was responding to the accusation of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao that previous UPA government had delayed the formation of Telangana resulting in loss of lives.
The Congress veteran further said Telangana was formed in response to people’s movement.
Chidambaram, however, alleged that over 4,000 suicides were reported in Telangana under K Chandrasekhar Rao-led BRS government and sought to know who is responsible for it.
“A state is created after a movement like original Andhra Pradesh was created. A state is divided in response to people’s movement. If some lives have been lost we are sorry for that. But what about the 4,000 odd suicides in Telangana under KCR’s government. Who is responsible for those suicides?” he asked.
During his poll rallies, Rao had charged Congress with delaying the formation of Telangana.
Though the previous UPA government agreed to the formation of Telangana after he began an indefinite fast, it went back on its word.
Later, the UPA government fulfilled its promise only after massive protests, he had claimed.
Rao also blamed the Congress for the deaths during the statehood agitation and said the Congress delayed its approval for a new state.
Chidambaram further said Rao emerged as a prominent leader of that movement and that is why he is the Chief Minister today.
“I hope KCR is not saying that the people have nothing to do with that and I got Telangana… I hope he is not saying that and if he is saying that then people will answer him in the elections,” he said.
The former Union Minister recalled that it was after great amount of work and persuasion that the Congress agreed to carve out Telangana and an announcement to this effect was made on December 9, 2009 following which Chandrasekhar Rao called off his fast.
“He (KCR) profusely thanked us. But, another agitation broke out. And Justice Srikrishna Commission was appointed, which gave six recommendations. Ultimately, the Congress party and the government in the Centre agreed to divide united Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and AP,” he added.
Responding to a query on KCR’s statement that the Congress merged Telangana with Andhra Pradesh earlier (in 1956), against the will of the people here, Chidambaram said, “I think Chandrasekhar Rao is not a particularly good student of history.”
“How was Andhra Pradesh formed. A large part of Andhra Pradesh was part of Madras presidency. And there was Hyderabad state. There was a massive movement for creating a Telugu speaking state and that is how a single Andhra Pradesh was formed bringing together all Telugu speaking people and all Telugu speaking regions of this part of India,” he recalled.
In his response, Telangana Finance Minister T Harish Rao in a post on X, said, “Congress leader Chidambaram’s comment is like a murderer expressing condolences. Youth sacrificed their lives during the agitation because of Chidambaram going back on his statement about formation of Telangana.”