State of Indecision : Telangana challenge to Congress జనవరి 2, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in agitation, Andhra, bandh, Congress, corruption, drama, elections, fast, Hyderabad, Identity, JAC, KCR, politics, PRP, Rayalaseema, regionalism, Settler, Sonia, SRC, students, TDP, Telangana, TRS, violence, Y S Jagan, YSR.
State of indecision
The Telangana issue has both helped and handicapped the Congress
By Lalita Iyer & Soni Mishra, The Week Jan 10, 2010
In the run-up to the creation of Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had not been particularly happy with the idea of merging Telangana with the Andhra region, saying it had a “tint of expansionist imperialism”. Nehru later compared the merger, which happened on November 1, 1956, to a marriage that has provisions for divorce if the two parties are unable to get along. The marriage has been a tumultuous one and the ‘divorce petition’ very violent.
It is a given that no work will be done in Andhra Pradesh till a decision is taken on Telangana. While almost all MLAs, MPs and ministers from the region have submitted their resignation, the babus are too busy speculating and so no files are moving. A big loss for the common man.
In the current scenario, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and its leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who started the present fight, have lost their importance. As all political parties together formed the joint action committee, Rao is merely another leader there. The committee selected Prof. K. Kodandaram as its head. This means that the Telangana movement is now in the hands of students from Osmania and Kakatiya universities. The movement can go any way, provided the Centre makes the right decision.
It is rumoured that the Centre has achieved what it wanted to—the political annihilation of N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief of the Telugu Desam Party. It is no mean task, as the TDP has a strong cadre base, has been around for 25 years and was in power for 17 years. Naidu himself was chief minister for nine years. But now, the Rayalaseema region will not accept him and coastal Andhra sees him as weak and succumbing to pressure. However, the 39 TDP MLAs from the Telangana region said come what may, Naidu will continue to be their leader.
Another political opponent of the Congress, actor Chiranjeevi and his Praja Rajyam Party, too, has been almost wiped out. The PRP’s huge following in Telangana was lost when Chiru called for a united Andhra Pradesh. The party was never strong in coastal Andhra.
But the main achievement of the Congress is that Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has been reined in. He stands no chance of becoming chief minister and even the most vocal MLAs supporting him have been gagged. Jagan was accused of fomenting the anti-Telangana agitation that swept through coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Apparently, his role in the agitation has been conveyed to the party high command.
It is clear that all resignations are symbolic as no ruling politician wants a re-election now. So the next big showdown is the ‘Telangana Garjana’ to be held by students at the Osmania University Arts College on January 3. The state had initially refused permission for the meeting, but later allowed it. Apparently, the state is hoping that the Centre will make an announcement on Telangana before the meeting.
Currently, buses are shy of plying between the regions and the underlying tension is leading to monetary loss for small-time players. Already rumours are rife that many IT companies are thinking of shifting base to Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. And till a decision is taken on the bifurcation, no investment will be made in Andhra or Telangana. In Hyderabad, real estate prices have dropped and the continuous tension is not allowing businesses to flourish. Watching with apprehension and curiosity, Muslims of Hyderabad wonder if they will have any say in the future of the city ruled by the Nizams.
Meanwhile, the Centre is trying to sort out the confusion caused by the contradictory statements issued by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on December 9 and 23, 2009. Andhra Pradesh Information and Public relations Minister J. Geeta Reddy said: “There is confusion after the second statement. Especially, the use of the words wide-ranging consultations [on Telangana formation] has given rise to confusion. There is vagueness about the Congress stand on the issue. We have to be clear about when the process will start and about its time-frame.” Reddy is among the 13 pro-Telangana ministers who have tendered their resignations to Congress president Sonia Gandhi following the December 23 statement.
“We cannot go back on the issue of Telangana statehood. We are very confident that the government will come out with a clarification and start the process,” said state Irrigation Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah.
While the state leaders want a time-bound programme, the Congress high command wants the situation to calm down before the process can be started. State Congress leaders feel they should have been consulted before any decision was taken. They are peeved that other parties are taking credit for the Telangana campaign, while the decisive step was taken by the Congress-led UPA. So the leaders continue to be defiant ?and refuse to withdraw their resignations despite being asked by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Apparently, the Congress has now agreed with the argument of its pro-Telangana Congress leaders about not letting other parties run away with credit. But the pro-Telangana leaders have been asked to ensure that the agitation does not go out of hand. The state Congress leaders are opposed to the joint action committee’s plan to organise a series of bandhs.
The Centre’s quick decision on Telangana is understood to have been guided by the apprehension that the unrest would be exploited by Maoists. The Congress, traditionally favouring a separate Telangana state, had contested the 2004 Lok Sabha as well as Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh in an alliance with the TRS, promising statehood for the Telangana region. The entire episode has also put the spotlight on the K. Rosaiah regime and it is being said that YSR, who staunchly opposed a separate Telangana, would not have allowed the agitation to grow. There has been speculation about a change of guard in the state government, but the Congress high command is learnt to be fully backing Rosaiah.
With January 3 looming closer, the Congress leadership may announce a time-bound mechanism for consultations and this could be a ministerial committee. The committee would talk out the issue and buy time to let tempers cool. A States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) appears unlikely, as the idea is being opposed by those who are for and against Telangana. A second SRC would also encourage similar demands from Gorkhaland, Bundelkhand and Vidarbha.