Potti Sreeramulu: The immortal leader who lives on in Telugu people’s hearts

“If only I had eleven more followers or stalwarts like him, I would win freedom in a year,” once said Mahatma Gandhi, referring to freedom fighter and legendary leader Sri Potti Sriramulu’s dedication and fasting ability. Today is the birth anniversary of Sri Potti Sriramulu, who is considered the first language warrior of independent India. His sacrifice gave birth to the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state, making him Amarajeevi Potti Sreeramulu.

After actively participating in the independence movement, Potti Sreeramulu sacrificed his life for the cause of the Telugu-speaking people of Andhra in carving out a separate Andhra State from Madras. As the Madras State was not particularly sympathetic to this demand, a statewide agitation started, and as part of the struggle, Sreeramulu started a fast on 19 October 1952.

During the Amarana Nirahara Deekha (fast unto death), Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru assured his support for the creation of Andhra State. Still, Sreeramulu continued with his fast because of the lack of a formal statement. Agitations continued in the Andhra region, and Sreeramulu’s fast created a lot of public unrest. Finally, he died on 15 December 1952 after about 58 days of commencing his fast. While Potti Sreeramulu lost his life, his sacrifice gave birth to a new state and he lives on in Telugu people’s hearts even today.

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