The professor who took over and kept it going

For Professor M Kodanda Rama Reddy,56,it is an objective achieved

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Published: July 31, 2013 1:50:59 am

For Professor M Kodanda Rama Reddy,56,it is an objective achieved. The bespectacled professor of political science at Osmania University,affectionately called Kodandaram,kept the agitation for Telangana alive when,at one stage,the Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s movement ebbed in intensity.

In December 2009,home minister P Chidambaram announced the “process of creation of Telangana state has been set in motion” but the Centre dragged its feet and the TRS did not mount pressure either. It was Prof Kodandaram who led a series of agitations. He not only unified student groups but also organised other pro-Telangana groups — lawyers,employees,journalists,NGOs,parties sympathetic to the cause such as the BJP,and pro-Telangana leaders of the Congress and the TDP — under the umbrella of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC).

His agitations included “million marches”,non-cooperation by employees,boycott of work at the secretariat,student agitations,and a siege of the assembly. The three “million marches” — March 10,2011,September 27,2011,and June 19,2013 — would bring Hyderabad to a halt.

“I think with lakhs of people participating,we were able to clearly tell the government that the people of Telangana no longer wish to continue with Andhra Pradesh and want a separate state,” he says.

By the time the last protest march called “Chalo Assembly” was held in June,the government had started using brute force,at times deploying 20,000 personnel,and locking down the capital to scuttle the protests. The first “million march” had turned violent with some activists vandalising Telugu icons on Necklace Road and attacking Congress MPs and MLAs.

To the political science teacher,it was challenge to tread alongside political parties,especially the TRS,which was wary of his growing influence. “KCR (K Chandrasekhara Rao) kept him guessing all the time whether he would support the TJAC if it planned a protest or a demonstration,” a colleague says. “Even if the TRS did lend support,it did not have KCR’s backing. Kodandaram learnt a lot from all this and also kept the agitation alive.”

Born in Mancherial,Adilabad,Kodandaram did his MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University,New Delhi,in 1980. He was a research scholar at Hyderabad Central University and joined Osmania in 1982.

From 1996,he was holding discussions in colleges,universities and public forums on Telangana,and researching its history. He also joined the Telangana Vidhyavanthula Vedika. He plunged actively into the movement in November 2009,after KCR had started a fast-unto-death and been arrested. As protests broke out,he took charge and went on to form the TJAC in January 2010. It was meant to be an all-party organisation but he could not get support initially from all parties,particularly the TRS,which maintained first claim to the movement.

Prof Kodandaram initially restricted himself to directing student protests at Osmania. After he went beyond the campus,Telangana employees struck work for nearly two months,forgoing their salaries. More than 50,000 workers of Singareni Collieries skipped work for 45 days in spite of repeated threats of pay cuts.

What now? “Nothing,I go back to teaching. I am not into politics. If the TRS is smart enough,it will secure its future and take the state forward.”

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App