BJP wins Sept 17 gambit, finally all parties accept it

HYDERABAD: After years of struggle and protests, the Bharatiya Janata Party finally has its way in getting all political parties of Telangana to agree to observe September 17, 74 years after the success of Operation Polo broke the resistance of the Hyderabad Nizam and his forces —albeit with their own narratives and contextualisation of history.

For the BJP, it is a straightforward tale – the Nizam did not want to be a part of India, and would have been fine with being a part of Pakistan, but for being on the wrong side of geography. Against the reluctance of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the integrator of over 600 princely states into the Indian State, its first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, sent Indian forces and humbled the recalcitrant and truant Nizam into surrender, liberating the people of Hyderabad State from some of the worst atrocities of history.

The BJP has been demanding that September 17 be observed as Liberation Day for a long time, but ever since the inception of a separate Telangana, the TRS government led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao would have none of it.

“It is an attempt by the naya Nizam and the neo-Razakars to whitewash history. Even in the Amrit Mahotsav, when we are celebrating 75 years of Independence, why can’t we acknowledge the freedom fighters of Telangana, its martys, people from all walks of life, religion, caste, gender and social standing who fought against the Nizam and his forces,” asked union minister G. Kishan Reddy, who has been spearheading the struggle for years.

“Why try to pretend these atrocities did not take place or that in so many villages  people lost their dignity, property and lives? Why not acknowledge the heroism of Sardar Patel and our forces who stormed with tanks to end the Razakar reign,” Kishan Reddy said.

After his party-led Central government decided to officially observe Liberation Day on September 17, inviting not just Union home minister Amit Shah but also Chief Ministers of the three states, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka, where the erstwhile Hyderabad State lay, Kishan Reddy had readied the gambit. But, in high likelihood, the Telangana Chief Minister may not attend the Centre’s programmee, preparing to roll out his own separate celebrations.

First, it was the state government, which conceded that it would celebrate and observe a year-long diamond jubilee (vajrotsavam) of the merger of Hyderabad state into the Indian Union. The TRS government first informally confirmed the development a few days ago, and formally set the official seal of approval at the State Cabinet meeting on Saturday.

The AIMIM too, in a stunning shift in stance, announced it would celebrate the day, observing it as a National Integration Day, with their two-day programme including a bike Tiranga rally, collective namaaz offerings and a public meeting.

Speaking to the media, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said, “It was a 90-year-old struggle, starting with the 1857 war of independence, in which the people of Hyderabad participated and continued it till we joined a secular democratic and free India.”

Refuting a query if the decision would hurt Muslims who see the development as a dark day, Owaisi said, “Not a single Muslim is unhappy about joining India. All patriotic Muslims stayed in India by choice, those who were unhappy went away to Pakistan.”

Refusing to be drawn into a debate on which celebration he would join, he said, “We demand that both the Centre and state government call September 17 a national integration day, because we got integrated into the nation on that day.”

The Congress, whose actions and decisions led to the making of history 74 years ago, was slow to the game and entered it last, demanding an apology from both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for not having celebrated the day all these years.

Speaking at a meeting, TPCC president A. Revanth Reddy said, “It was a Congress legacy and decision that these opportunist parties are trying to claim. It was our party which fought for Independence from the British and it was our party which freed the people of Hyderabad.”

Former MP and senior Congress leader, V. Hanumantha Rao said, “None of these parties, the BJP or TRS, have any history or role in these great historic events. Our Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and home minister Vallabhbhai Patel brought Hyderabad into India. The Congress will fight with the same spirit to free people of India and Telangana from two tyrannical rulers.”

But with September 17 firmly etched into the official and political calendar of Telangana, and what is in a name, it is the BJP that will have the last laugh. A gambit that worked perfectly.

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