Telangana haunts the Congress
The Telangana agitation continues to haunt the Congress. Those demanding the creation of a separate state have brought the agitation to the national capital and the Congress and government functionaries are at a total loss to offer any solution to this prolonged and complicated problem.
The Telangana issue is a creation of the Congress itself and it is at the receiving end in the state of Andhra Pradesh ever since the Core Committee of the party took a decision for creation of a separate state on December 9, 2009 which also happened to be Sonia Gandhi’s birthday. This decision was taken without taking any leader of Andhra Pradesh in confidence and no Member of Parliament was consulted. No meeting of the Union Cabinet took place before the announcement was made. Many thought that the move was aimed at containing the influence of YS Rajasekhar Reddy whose demise in a helicopter crash had plunged the state in a leadership crisis. A few months earlier in May, 2009, YSR had managed to get 12 MPs elected from the region for his party in the face of a demand for a separate state by both the TDP and the TRS who got two MPs each from the area. Therefore the declaration at 20 minutes to midnight by the home minister P Chidambaram took everyone including Congressmen of the state by complete surprise.
The matter was immediately complicated when the then home secretary GK Pillai while answering queries committed a faux pas while answering a question as to what would be the new capital of the proposed state. “Hyderabad naturally”, he shot back. Soon after Mayawati, the UP chief minister publicly declared that she wanted UP to be also divided into five regions for greater efficiency. Politically it meant that the state, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, would have no region, which will account for more than 20 MPs. In other words, the political supremacy of the State will diminish and leaders who claim that they represent the largest part of the country will no longer be able to boast of this. Effectively, PM aspirants of the Congress and BJP from UP will have no distinct advantage.
This realisation, I think also dawned on some senior Congress leaders who soon started ducking for cover. The turmoil in Andhra Pradesh on the other hand had begun and the strongest state of the Congress, which had helped it to come to power both in 2004 and 2009, seemed to slipping out of its grasp.
The Central government in trying to arrest the decline in Andhra announced the formation of the Sri Krishna committee. Its six recommendations are not acceptable to any of the three regions. As things stand today, the agitation in Telangana, which accounts for 119 MLAs and 17 MPs of the state of Andhra Pradesh is likely to intensify further. Some MPs of the region had submitted their resignations to the Lok Sabha Speaker who for some reason has returned them to the MPs. But wishing away a reality does not make the crisis disappear.
On its part, the Centre knows that if the demand for Telangana is accepted, the demands for a separate Vidarbha or several other smaller states will gain momentum. Historically, barring the division of Punjab into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, which resulted in better development of all the three regions, there is no evidence to suggest a similar result in respect of Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand so far. Many parties demanding separate states do not realise that if divisions are made, even the demographics could change. This is a very key element with internal security ramifications in some areas.
But the final word on Telangana has not been heard as yet. This issue is likely to remain unresolved till the next round of polls in the state and to Parliament. The voting pattern will indicate the will of the people. As things stand today, the Congress will probably be the greatest loser in the game and may see Andhra Pradesh in general and Telangana in particular slipping out of its hands.