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    In an apparent attempt to wrest the Telangana identity from former CM K Chandrashekar Rao and his party, the Congress government has in its first cabinet meeting decided to change the code on number plates from TS to TG and adopt a new state emblem, song and a redesigned Telangana Talli (mother) statue.

    Chief Minister Revanth Reddy wrote on X on Monday, “The address of a nation is its language and its cultural heritage. Making the song ‘Jaya Jayahe Telangana’ the state anthem, redesigning the Telangana Talli statue to reflect the average Telangana woman, adopting a state emblem that does not have any dictatorial trappings, and using the letters TG, which were chanted by the people during the Telangana movement, in vehicle registrations instead of TS… a decision has been taken by the state cabinet to fulfil the aspirations of four crore people of Telangana.”

    While the cabinet decided the song Jaya Jaya He Telangana, written and composed by poet Ande Sri, will now be the state song, the letters TG will be used for all new vehicles and the state’s official communications. Regarding the new statue and emblem, it has decided to hold consultations with all stakeholders.

    Experts feel the Congress government is trying to use the Telangana sentiment to hit KCR and his BRS, which is eager to make a comeback in the parliament polls after its shocking defeat in the 2023 Assembly polls.

    The former chief minister, along with his Telangana Rashtra Samithi (founded in 2001, now BRS), is credited with leading the movement that culminated in the carving of the new state out of unified Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, after a six-decades-long statehood agitation.

    Speaking to the media after the cabinet meeting, minister D Sridhar Babu said that the Centre issued a gazette notification in 2014 specifying the use of TG for number plates but that the TRS government preferred TS to make it look like TRS. At the peak of the statehood agitation, people in Telangana had started to replace the letters AP from vehicle number plates with TG as a form of protest.

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    The present state emblem is a circular seal featuring the three lions of the state emblem of India, Kakatiya Kala Thoranam (historic archway from the Kakatiya dynasty era) and Charminar. It has “Government of Telangana” written in English, “Telangana Prabhutvamu” in Telugu and “Telangana Sarkar” in Urdu and “Satyameva Jayate” in Sanskrit. This was adopted soon after the state was created and a new government took charge.

    The Telangana Talli statue, which symbolises the prosperity of the region, was designed first in 2003 during the statehood agitation and adopted with some changes in 2015 by the KCR government. It is conceived as a mother goddess figure similar to Bharat Mata, holding harvested maize in one hand and a Bathukamma, a cultural symbol of Telangana, in the other.

    Interestingly, in September 2022, Revanth Reddy, as the state Congress chief and Opposition leader, unveiled his party’s version of the Telangana Talli statue draped in the tricolour at the party headquarters, Gandhi Bhavan.

    Political observers such as Prof K Nageshwar feel that the Congress-led government’s decisions are part of an attempt to use the Telangana identity to hit the BRS and KCR. “They are trying to pick up things that KCR disowned for some conspicuous reasons,” he said. For instance, he said, making Jaya Jayahe Telangana the state song is a very old demand as it the song that enthralled the people during the statehood movement.

    “The state formation was based on a rich heritage of songs and dance. These were the main weapons during the movement. There is an inalienable link between Telangana identity and songs. For some conspicuous reason, KCR did not own it. Now that the Congress government is formed, they have immediately owned it.”

    He also sees similar attempts in how the Congress government sought to appropriate Prof M Kodandaram, who was chairman of the Telangana Joint Action Committee during the statehood movement, and the late revolutionary balladeer Gaddar, whose songs energised the masses during the movement. The government recently cleared Kodandaram’s name for appointment as an MLC under the governor’s quota and approved a statue for Gaddar in Tellapur town on Hyderabad’s outskirts.

    Revanth Reddy has also replaced the Nandi Awards for cine artists with the Gaddar Awards, which will honour poets and artists as well.

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