Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956- its Provisions and Recommendations

The Gentlemen’s agreement of Andhra Pradesh was signed between Telangana and Andhra leaders before the formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh of India in 20 feb- 1956. The agreement provided safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh. The violations of this agreement are cited as one of the reasons for formation of separate statehood for Telangana.

The Gentlemen’s agreement of Andhra Pradesh has a precedent in the Sribagh Pact of 1937 which was between the leaders of Rayalaseema and Coastal Telugu speaking districts of Madras State to provide assurances for Rayalaseema in return for their willingness to join Andhra State. This unbinding pact was largely forgotten probably because of the large political representation the region has had in the state governments since independence.

When the Hyderabad State led by the Nizam of Hyderabad was merged by India in Operation Polo, there was a debate in the Telugu-speaking districts of the Hyderabad State (1948–56) (also known as Telangana), on whether to join the newly formed Andhra State, carved out of Telugu speaking districts of Madras state.

States Reorganisation Commission (SRC), in 1955, recommended that “the Telangana area is to constitute into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residency Hyderabad State expresses itself in favor of such unification”.

Hyderabad Chief minister in his letter to the Congress President said that Communist parties supported the merger for their political calculations. Hyderabad PCC chief said overwhelming majority from Congress party opposed the merger and Communists were elected in special circumstances in 1951 and Visalandhra was not a political issue in 1951 and Assembly does not reflect people’s view on this issue. He also said 80% of Congress delegates who were elected in 1955 opposed merger. Government had to provide the additional security for Communist leaders who supported the Visalandhra. The locals agitated against the non-locals in 1952 Mulki Agitation.

In Hyderabad assembly out of 174 MLAs On 3 December 1955, 147 MLAs expressed their view. 103 MLA’s (including Marathi and Kannada MLAs) supported the merger, 16 MLAs maintained neutral stand and 29 opposed merger. Among Telangana MLAs, 25 Telangana MLAs disagreed with the merger, 59 Telangana MLAs supported the merger. Out of 94 Telangana MLAs in the assembly, 36 were Communists, 40 were Congress, 11 were Socialist party(SP), 9 were independents. Voting did not take place on the resolution because Telangana proponents insisted on to including the phrase “As per the wishes of people” in the resolution.

Provisions

  • There will be one legislature for the whole of Andhra Pradesh which will be the sole law making body for the entire state and there be one Governor for the State aided and advised by the Council of Ministers responsible to the State Assembly for the entire field of Administration.
  • For the more convenient transaction of the business of Government with regard to some specified matters the Telangana area will be treated as one region.
  • For the Telangana region there will be a Regional Standing Committee of the state assembly consisting of the members of the State Assembly belonging to that region including the Ministers from that region but not including the Chief Minister.
  • Legislation relating to specified matters will be referred to the Regional committee. In respect of specified matters proposals may also be made by the Regional Committee to the State Government for legislation or with regard to the question of general policy not involving any financial commitments other than expenditure of a routine and incidental character.
  • The advice tendered by the Regional Committee will normally be accepted by the Government and the State Legislature. In case of difference of opinion, reference will be made to the Governor whose decision will be binding.

 

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