Derailing democracy in Andhra Pradesh
by Sai Prasan on 09 Nov 2013 5 Comments
The United Andhra Pradesh and Telangana agitations share a common feature. In both movements the 16.2 per cent scheduled caste (SC) and 6.6 per cent schedule tribe (ST) followed by 45 per cent backward caste (BC) of the total state population are the worst victims. The per capita income of the deprived section is also much lower than the 22 per cent population of the upper castes who are most influential in the state. The deprived sections are the foot soldiers and vanguard of both movements though the upper castes are steering the same at both ends of the State.


Though the media covered the recent attack on the house and business establishments of Botcha Satyanarayana, Cheepurupalli MLA, minister in Andhra Pradesh government and state president of the Congress, in Vizianagaram district of north Andhra, it failed to identify the main reasons for the uncontrolled mob fury against the Congress leader. It did not understand how the politically controlled district administration has muzzled the democratic rights of the agitating people who majorly comprised SC, ST and BC.


A virtual undeclared emergency was imposed in Vizianagaram since the mob violence that erupted in the district following the Union Cabinet’s decision to pass a note on October 3, 2013 on the division of Andhra Pradesh for the formation of Telangana. Contrary to the general perception, the national media could not properly convey that it is not only the rich who want United Andhra Pradesh, but the common man of the non-Telangana region is also not in favour of division of the state because of several reasons.

In fact, Justice Srikrishna Committee report has empirically demonstrated that north Andhra districts – Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Vizag – and all four districts of Rayalseema are more backward than Telangana region. And, interestingly, there is a contrary trend witnessed in all three regions. All ten districts of Telangana region which are closer to Hyderabad want a separate state, while the districts of north Andhra Pradesh and Rayalseema which are distant from the state capital want a United Andhra. The movement for United Andhra Pradesh intensified in these two regions after the decision of the Congress Party to divide the state in the last week of July this year.


The reason why the people were angry with Botcha Satyanarayana was that he could not understand the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh, even of his home district. He could not understand that the people are emotionally connected with the state capital because the common man goes there in large numbers in search of jobs. Moreover, Hyderabad is the sixth largest city in India and all important industries are located in the city. Around 75 per cent of the revenue of the state is generated from Hyderabad alone; it is only 15 per cent from Seema Andhra including north Andhra, and the rest from Telengana as well as Rayalseema region.    


Without understanding the ground reality and psyche of the people, Botcha Satyanarayana welcomed the party high command decision for division of Andhra Pradesh; this irked the people of the state including the local people of Vizianagaram district. He failed to figure out that the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in Vizianagaram district is the highest in the state and the Rellies, a sub-caste of SC who have a good presence in the district and are the most backward among the Dalit community of the state, are opposed to the division. Perhaps the lure of chief ministership in the proposed new Seema Andhra state prompted Satyanarayana to ignore a warning in the Justice Srikrishna Committee report, “Some prominent SC organizations, particularly those from North coastal Andhra, in addition to their demand for a united state, have demanded a special economic package as they feel they are extremely backward”.

Even before the division move, the people were unhappy with Botcha and his family’s dictatorial style. They witnessed the steep rise of the Botcha family in political and business life in just the last decade, even as the common man was suffering and struggling for existence due to the backwardness of the region where employment opportunities are absent.


Botcha Satyanarayana, however, inducted his close family members into electoral politics. His wife Botcha Jhansi Laxmi is the Lok Sabha member from Bobili constituency which he represented earlier. His brother Botcha Appalanarasaiah is an MLA from Gajapathinagaram, and another family member is the MLA from Nellimarla.  


The Botcha family’s business operations are a matter of concern in the district and the state. People in the area allege that his business, run by close family members, ranges from liquor to mining and educational college. He does not care for the common people after the elections and this has led to anger and frustration among the people.


The people of Vizianagaram district were protesting after the July announcement and were getting frustrated that despite their peaceful protest, neither the Union government nor the national media was paying attention to them. The Cabinet note of October 3 was the trigger point and people came on the street to express their anger and frustration. The mob was directionless because the top leadership of the main opposition parties – Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress – were absent in the district. Senior TDP leaders like Ashok Gajapati Raju, a former finance minister, were either inactive or co-opted by Botcha Satyanarayana by entering into business deals with them.


The leaderless mob targetted Botcha Satyanarayana’s business entities and college. They disobeyed the curfew and came on the streets to express their cumulative anger against him and his family.


Instead of taking the people into confidence and defusing the tension, Botcha Satyanarayana used his political clout and prevailed over the district administration to muzzle the dissent. The police arrested several hundreds of minors and youth, mostly ranging in the age of 14 to 25 years. There were allegations that the police violated human rights and raided the houses of these youth at midnight and detained them in police stations for a few days without food or water before producing them in court. They picked up family members if a particular youth was not present at home and used third degree methods to extract statements about their and others involvement in the violence.   


A majority of the arrested youth belong to SC community, followed by the backward castes. Actually, the SC, ST and BC youth, and even upper caste youth of the entire State is restless as they are misfits in the post-globalisation economic modernisation. Due to poverty, they cannot get the benefits of private education and jobs available in the market economy. Added to this is the global meltdown which has further squeezed the job market in the last couple of years.  


The Vishal Andhra Mahasabha, a people’s platform which is part of the United Andhra movement, has filed a petition before the Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission alleging that false cases have been filed against youth peacefully protesting against the division of Andhra Pradesh. The petition said, “Botcha Satyanarayana and his political associates are using their connections with government and influenced the local administration to impose curfew to suppress the integrationist movement by curtailing the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India”.


Curfew was clamped on Vizianagaram from October 5, 2013. Since then, people are being harassed and abused physically and mentally by henchmen of political leaders and even though such issues are brought to the notice of senior police officials, no action is taken.


The Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission has directed the district administration to give a detailed report on the status of their action against the United Andhra demonstrators. The majority of youth from the SC and BC community are still languishing in jail as they cannot deposit the surety money required for getting bail in multiple cases.      

Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy should immediately order a judicial probe to investigate the cause of violence in Vizianagaram. The inquiry should be time-bound and should look into why the police violated the human and fundamental rights of the common man and recommend the action to be taken against the guilty officials. The role of Congress leaders and ministers should be probed.


At the same time, apart from APHRC, the State and National SC&ST Commissions should take suo-moto cognizance of the atrocities against the youth of the deprived sections of society. There is need to create democratic space in the political system to allow people to democratically express themselves on the division of Andhra Pradesh. Else there is a danger of the youth getting off the track and resorting to militant methods in search of justice.  

The author is Consulting Editor to; he writes regularly on the convergence between politics and economy; his email is

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