Home Secretary Amit Shah and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao will both unfurl the national flag in Hyderabad on Saturday in separate “September 17” celebrations, in what builds up to a day of intense and competitive political activity in the state.
The center will celebrate September 17 as “Hyderabad Liberation Day” for the first time. The former state of Hyderabad under the Nizam merged with the Indian Union on this day, more than a year after India’s independence.
The government of Telangana has planned what it calls the “Telangana Unity Day” and has announced three-day festivities. It is an important message from Mr. Rao of KCR, who has gathered opposition parties to run against the BJP in the 2024 national elections. He and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) view the Center’s celebrations with suspicion and mention them in line with the BJP’s “divisive agenda”.
The Union’s Home Secretary, Amit Shah, will headline the Center’s celebrations at the Army Parade Ground in Secunderabad. Invitations have been sent to the Chief Ministers of two neighboring states where the BJP is in power – Karnataka and Maharashtra. Basavaraj Bommai and Eknath Shinde will both attend the function. Both states contain parts ceded from the former state of Hyderabad.
The Home Secretary will land in Hyderabad tonight for his one-day visit. BJP leaders point out that in 1948, India’s first home minister, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, had unfurled the national flag after Hyderabad joined India.
Mr Shah will also participate in another event called the “Sewa karyakram” to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.
The BJP has tagged a year-long celebrations of “Hyderabad’s Liberation” to the central government’s ongoing “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” to mark 75 years of independence.
Telangana’s KCR is also invited. But he has other plans. He will be attending Public Gardens for the official function of his government on the occasion of National Integration Day.
Separate celebrations by the Center and the state take competitive politics to a new level. Both Amit Shah and KCR will address public gatherings.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi had also written to the Center and the state government requesting that the day be celebrated as “National Integration Day”. The Hyderabad MP will raise the national flag and flag a “Tiranga bike rally”.
When asked if he would attend any of tomorrow’s events, Mr Owaisi said “only if they call it National Integration Day”.
Why did the AIMIM never celebrate the day before, Mr. Owaisi was asked. “The central government should be asked the same question,” he replied. The leader of AIMIM said both Hindus and Muslims in the former Nizam state had wanted to join a “democratic, secular Indian Republic”.
KCR’s party wonders why the BJP does not celebrate the integration of Gujarats Junagadh into India on November 9, 1947 and wants to focus only on Hyderabad.
The BJP has been politically aggressive in Telangana. In 2018, the party won just one assembly seat in state elections, but went on to win three by-elections and also local polls in Hyderabad. The party sees a huge political opportunity in Telangana, with a weakened Congress unable to vigorously challenge the TRS.