Despite the blanket protests, the birth of Telangana, India’s 29th state, appears certain. As the Seemandhra Congress tries to cope with the contrary pulls that rend it, Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu and YSR chief Jaganmohan Reddy are doing their best to milk the Samaikhyandhra (united Andhra) protests. But regardless of what the assembly decides—adopting or rejecting a resolution for the creation of the new state—the Centre’s decision will be binding. An assembly resolution can’t override one passed by Parliament.
But the fasting leaders aren’t giving up, using the occasion to lay a base for an electoral pitch in Seemandhra. Naidu alleges “match-fixing” between the Congress, the YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). His muddled statements have done his party no good, his isolation amplified by a brief fling with Modi that yielded no results. Jagan, on the other hand, has suitors in the Congress, the BJP and the CPI(M). His mother Y.S. Vijayamma has been networking heavily in Delhi.
The Congress is trying to put a brave gloss on it. “We’ve done the math. A divided state will ensure 12-15 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana in 2014. It is the best deal,” says a Congress politician. But a reading of organisational health has to go beyond electoral calculations, for even CM Kiran Kumar Reddy—who doesn’t want the division—has revolted. Some ministers accuse him of covertly backing the united Andhra agitation; some profess loyalty to the high command; some, like him, want to keep the state united.
On the issue of Hyderabad as the joint capital, Sridhar opines that ambiguity over sharing of executive powers—specifically on land, land revenue, law and order, urban development and education—will only harm the interests of Telangana. And, according to N. Venugopal, editor of Veekshanam, those who need to worry are students, farmers and young professionals. “The lumpenised, degenerated atmosphere in Seemandhra today is because people are worried about education, employment, watersharing and Hyderabad. Real estate lobbies too are backing the APNGOs stir,” he says. The Congress is not doing Telangana any favours, he says: it’s giving them a “mutilated state by declaring Hyderabad a common capital. In 1966, Chandigarh was declared a UT and common capital of Haryana and Punjab for 10 years. Forty-seven years on, it is still the common capital. Hyderabad will go the same way,” he says.
Fast forward Jagan of the YSR Cong have been fasting over the Telangana issue
The Congress is also convulsed by the conflicting stands taken by its members. Digvijay Singh, the party’s in-charge for Andhra Pradesh, issues a statement every day that there’s no going back on Telangana. But AICC spokesperson P.C. Chacko keeps saying there cannot be a time-frame for state formation: “T,” he says, “may happen before or after the elections.” And, of course, there’s the wrangling in the cabinet, with Kiran Kumar saying no Telangana and Botsa Satyanarayana, the PCC spokesman, taking a middle path: he wants another all-party meeting to discuss the issue.
Anantapur MP Anantha Venkata Rami Reddy, who resigned from the Congress after the decision on Telangana, called on a fasting Jagan. P. Viswaroop, a minister, is all set to join the YSR Congress on October 18. Though it does seem late for resignation dramas, some Congress MPs have moved court for their resignations to be accepted. “But all this only amounts to overacting after a play is over,” says Telkapalli Ravi, editor of the Left-leaning Prajashakti. He says it could turn out that the assembly only discusses the bill and does not vote on it, so Kiran Kumar’s offer to resign, but after defeating the bill, is farcical.
Visalandhra Mahasabha president Nalamotu Chakravarty, however, thinks differently. “The notion that the state’s division is certain is foolish,” he says. “There is a long process, centering on water-sharing, jobs, power distribution. Which city will be the capital? Without addressing these issues, the UPA can’t bulldoze ahead. We are almost certain the bill will be rejected by the assembly. President Pranab Mukherjee, who never really favoured Telangana, might send it back to the Union cabinet, seeking reconsideration of the assembly’s opinion,” says Chakravarty. When the bill does reach Parliament, the BJP, which created three new states with all-round consensus, may still favour a united Andhra, he says. “It won’t be the biggest gainer in Telangana, so why should it support the bill?” he asks.
Naidu of the Telugu Desam have been fasting over the Telangana issue. (Photograph by Sanjay Rawat)
In support of this argument, BJP MP Prakash Javadekar has declared in TV debates that while his party was in favour of Telangana, it was not anti-Seemandhra. Also, Chakravarty points out, it will be a race against time to introduce the bill, given that there are only two Parliament sessions left before the 2014 elections.
Terming Jagan’s fast a failure, Somireddy says that the thin crowds at the scene indicated how voters had grasped the YSR Congress-Congress “match-fixing”. “Jagan’s sister Sharmila had boasted that her brother was a tiger, whether in jail or outside. But ever since he’s come out of prison, he’s mewing, and sucking up to the Congress,” says the TDP leader. YSR Congress leader Ambati Rambabu says that such charges are rubbish. “The CBI could not establish quid pro quo allegations against Jagan and the court automatically granted him bail,” he says, emphasising that there’s no deal with the Congress.
If indeed the state is split before the 2014 elections, the Congress stands to be wiped out in Seemandhra. The anger against the Grand Old Party in Seemandhra is such that most Congress MLAs and MPs are afraid of losing their deposits and pride altogether.
Not on his watch CM Kiran does not want AP divided. (Photograph by Getty Images, From Outlook 21 October 2013)
“In a two-way battle between the Telugu Desam and YSR Congress, Jagan continues to have a definite edge. He promises his father’s people-friendly schemes such as Arogyasree, free power and fee reimbursal in education. Naidu’s yo-yo stand on Telangana statehood loses to Jagan’s clear united Andhra slogan. Naidu would play the governance and anti-corruption cards, but Jagan’s emotive appeals might overshadow these,” says Sridhar.
In any case, when the elections do happen, money, caste, local issues and the youthful charisma of Jagan would be bigger factors than the state’s division, says N. Venugopal. Given the Modi factor, Jagan has cleverly kept his options open, not committing to support either the UPA or NDA. “The 25 Lok Sabha seats would be a big number for the UPA or NDA when they hunt for alliances down south. At such a time, Jagan who looks set to bag a sizeable number, about 25, can call the shots,” says a YSR Congress leader.
Also, a sense of unease prevails among the TRS cadre over the status of Hyderabad. “It would be unacceptable to us if the Centre tries to turn Hyderabad into a Union Territory,” says TRS MLA Etala Rajender. Kiran Kumar’s stance that the state should be kept united at all costs has led the TRS to submit a memorandum to the governor seeking his dismissal and imposition of President’s rule. On the Seemandhra agitation, MP G. Vivek blames it entirely on Kiran Kumar. “The state administration watched silently as the APNGOs and power employees intensified their stir instead of calling them for talks or invoking the essential services law,” he says.
Meanwhile, talk that Kiran Kumar might float his own party continues to gain ground. Some Seemandhra leaders, who feel that neither TDP nor YSR Congress are viable options, are willing to sail with him. “But our priority right now is to evolve strategies to defeat the state division plan,” the chief minister is said to have told supporters.
An exasperated UPA government, however, seems to think that the time to deal with the prodigal chief minister would come later. Meanwhile, its group of ministers gets set to deal with the intricate task of laying down the fine print for bifurcation.
By Madhavi Tata in Hyderabad
AP - a victim of political compulsions of the Congress and BJP, faced with divisive politicians in Telengana.
Unless the politicians are controlled by an active judiciary, the nation will be split and divided in no time at all.
Putting the toothpaste back into the tube looks tough for Telengana but we should take a deep breath on all the other proposals that are floating around.
"ut the Congress, which hopes for a clean sweep in Telangana, "
Congress can hope for a clean sweep in Telengana but I think the hope is highly misplaced. Congress is damaged goods all over Andhra. Given its inherent strength in the state it might win a few seats but to expect a sweep is simply day dreaming.
Sitting down to plan every bit of detail after announcing the bifurcation is like putting the cart before the horse.
The above report quotes a Congress politician as saying, "We've done the math. A divided state will ensure 12-15 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana in 2014. It is the best deal."
There — the Congress party's (read Sonia Gandhi's) rationale for the division. What matters is Rahul Gandhi's coronation. Everything else can wait or go to hell.
The question is, how many people can be a Chief Minister, or Prime Minister? Just one, at one time. Our cabinet realizes this, and the defence minister in India, in the recent past, is seen to be sagacious,when he doesn't care to hold more than one portfolio. the same for the rest of the cabinet. What about parliament? Do individual members want to be ministers? The irony is, that Raja Bhayya might just stand for elections, and not want to be minister. So, why are we the public, bothered about a political situation, that has no connect to us? People know the Prime Minister, but no one knows the M. P. or M. L. A. who represents us. We don't know if the person we voted for won the election, if the person does. Also, in the U. S., people were puzzled, that the President of the United States was an unknown entity, when Ronald Reagan was President. What is all this fuss about?
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