Even till 2000,revolutionary parties used to recruit intellectuals from colleges in Warangal. These days,corporates pick them up offering hefty salaries. That sums up the state of the Naxal movement, says Lanka Papi Reddy,a former Naxalite and former central committee member of the CPI(ML). Warangal,the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty,was the fountainhead of the Naxal movement till the turn of the century. It was here,in the Regional Engineering College (REC),Kakatiya Medical College (KMC),and BEd College that revolutionary leaders found their match in hundreds of students who were willing to give up their careers and families to join the movement.
However,things have changed so much in Warangal since 2002 that it now belies its image as the scorching ideological wellspring which accepted,stoked,and kept the Naxal movement alive and kicking for more than three decades. The Naxal movement strengthened the demand for a separate Telangana state,so much so that in 1984,for the first time,the TDP wrested from Congress the Warangal parliamentary seat after N T Rama Rao made a passing mention of Telangana.
The TDP,which took up the challenge of disproving the popular sentiment that Telangana is neglected,transformed Warangal into the fourth largest city with a municipal corporation. The party won the seat in 1996,1998 and 1999.
The Telangana sentiment has such a strong impact on elections here that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS),which has been spearheading the demand for a separate state since 2001,won with a thumping majority in 2004 when it contested for the first time. But the TRS lost the 2008 bypolls around the time the party had failed to prove that it was serious about Telangana. Warangal voted for the TDP in the bypolls that were held after TRS MPs and MLAs resigned in protest against the Congress not doing enough to create the new state. TDPs Dayakar Rao won the 2008 bypolls.
Analysts say Warangals emotional response stems from its 30-year history of being the breeding ground for various ideologies. Though the Naxal movement was weakening because of police encounters,students of Kakatiya University provided a base for it. Sadly,the only discussion these days on the campus is whether you are from Telangana or Andhra, says Burra Ramulu,a student leader in the 1980s and now head of the Economics Department at the university. Students who graduated after 2002 have no understanding regarding any ideology. The influence Warangal had on regional politics is a thing the past now, he adds.
Some of the most well-known revolutionary thinkers,writers,Naxal leaders studied at Warangal. Namballa Keshava Rao,known as Basvaraj,chief of the Maoists central military commission,is an M Tech from REC. Revolutionary writer Vara Vara Rao is a product of CKM College. Balladeer Gadar launched his career from Warangal. That spirit is dead now, says Papi Reddy.
Burra Ramulu says,Anything in pink (the colour of the TRS flag),or someone moving around in an SUV with his pockets bursting with cash is attracting people this time.
Warangal parliamentary seat has now been reserved for the SC. The TDP,which won the last three times has allotted the seat to the TRS to contest as part of the seat-sharing arrangement under the Grand Alliance. There is no strong sentiment that can be felt here this time. Konda Pratap,a union leader,says people are interested in the Telangana issue. Value-based politics and ideology has been brushed aside. Earlier,there was no place for rowdyism and money. Now,the Telangana issue has taken precedence and since the TRS is contesting for the first time here,a lot of sentiment is attached to that party, he says.
However,the discontentment over seat-sharing within the Grand Alliance comprising the TDP,TRS,CPI and CPI(M) may result in the TDP cadre not supporting the TRS candidate. I dont understand why Warangal has been allotted to the TRS when the TDP is so strong here and won the last three times, wonders B Prakash,the TDPs coordinator for Warangal.