November 29 will be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of Telangana statehood movement. It was on this day in 2009 that Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K Chandrashekhar Rao had embarked on fast-unto-death that forced the then UPA government to announce the initiation of the process for formation of separate Telangana State. The realisation of the statehood goal did not come by easily, though. It took grit, determination, steadfast commitment and persistent struggle to make things happen in the face of devious machinations of those opposed to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The ‘Deeksha Divas’ was, in a way, Telangana’s Che Guevara moment. ‘KCR Chachudo, Telangana Vachudo’ was his powerful call before launching the fast, which was a turning point in the struggle for statehood. Over four-and-a-half years later, Telangana State took birth amid new hope and optimism. The period saw several political twists and turns while the people of Telangana stood solidly behind Rao and his team. Emerging as the powerful symbol of Telangana identity, Rao had succeeded in bringing the statehood issue to the centre stage of national politics, getting almost all the allies of the UPA on board and compelling the central leaderships of both the Congress and the BJP to hurry through the process of passage of the Telangana Bill in Parliament in what was virtually a race against time. No wonder that Rao is regarded as the architect of the new state, somebody who swiftly transformed himself from a restless rebel to a responsive ruler after earning a resounding public mandate in the elections.
After leading the statehood agitation for 13 years, the 2014 mandate put him in the driving seat to guide the destiny of India’s youngest State. Even his critics would vouch for Rao’s unparalleled mass appeal, persuasive skills and political craft based on pragmatic calculations. Blending boldness with populism, Rao has earned the reputation for being a tough taskmaster and his style of governance so far has been aggressive and firm in many ways. It was no easy task to script the transformation of a region that was subjected to decades of deliberate neglect and discrimination. With ‘30’ as his mission, he had declared revival of rural economy, agriculture, irrigation, welfare of weaker sections and job creation as his top priorities. As a result, the State has been a trailblazer in terms of implementing welfare schemes that have transformational impact on the lives of the people. Be it massive programmes like revival of village tanks, supply of safe drinking water to the villages, redesigning irrigation projects or investment assistance to farmers and round-the-clock supply of free power, they all reflect a clear-cut vision and a perfect balance between welfare and long-term development.