Telangana referendum 2010 ఆగస్ట్ 4, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in agitation, BJP, Congress, elections, Harish, Identity, KCR, Mulki, politics, Rahul, regionalism, Sonia, suicide, TDP, Telangana, TRS, violence, Y S Jagan.
Tags: Chidambaram, Srikrishna
After the ‘referendum’
D K Singh, The Indian Express, August 3, 2010
A couple of days before the Telangana by-election results were declared, Home Minister P. Chidambaram inquired about the Congress’s prospects from a ministerial colleague. The reply left him perplexed. “Not even one seat?” asked Chidambaram. But his party colleague from Andhra Pradesh offered little hope. The junior minister was vindicated last Friday when the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) swept the polls, winning 11 out of 12 seats.
Congress leaders from Telangana had sensed the pubic mood and did not want to contest; they were overruled. The party had done well in the region in the 2009 assembly and Lok Sabha elections, apparently validating the late Y.S.R. Reddy’s claims that the statehood agitation was a mere flash in the pan. This rout has, therefore, set alarm bells ringing. AP Congress president D. Srinivas’s loss — the second time since the 2009 assembly election — could be a case study in ambivalence: he had assured voters that the Congress was all for Telangana, and it was the only party that could make it a reality. The TRS’s K. Chandrasekhar Rao asked: if Srinivas’s party was all for Telangana, why did the party chief not say so, on behalf of the Congress, to the Srikrishna Committee?
The Andhra PCC chief had no answer to KCR’s poser. The party high command had allowed individual MLAs and MPs to submit their views before the Srikrishna Committee on statehood, but the Congress, as a party, wouldn’t take any stance. Since Chidambaram’s announcement about the initiation of the process for the formation of Telangana last December, which was followed by political mobilisation and protests on regional lines, the Congress had gradually made a quiet retreat to its time-tested formula of ambivalence. Since December, leaders from all regions of AP have been meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, but have failed to gauge their thinking on Telangana.
The Congress high command cannot overlook this reversal. The Srikrishna Committee reports by year-end; whatever its recommendations, violent protests all over AP are likely. The ruling party cannot then be divided; it must, therefore, sort out the internecine war in its state unit. Kadapa MP Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSR’s ambitious son, is on the warpath, defying the high command’s diktat to continue with his “Odarpu yatra” (a tour to console the families of those who had died of shock hearing of his father’s death).
Jagan knows it’s now or never: if he allows his father’s legacy to fade from public memory, his time may never come. The high command, on the other hand, is not inclined to hand over the reins of the state to someone who challenged its authority. They are sure Jagan will not leave the party to float his own; it would be risky, as YSR stayed so loyal all his life. Yet, cracking the whip is tough. With most of the legislators having been hand-picked by YSR, a large number of them owe loyalty to Jagan. Besides, if they shift loyalty now, what happens to them if Jagan wins his battle? No assurances either way have come from Delhi, leaving them confused; many of them are already said to have an offer to recover the expenses they incurred in the last election, and a promise that the next election will be similarly taken care of.
The central leadership of the Congress wanted Chief Minister K. Rosaiah to deliver. He has, however, been far from effective. Jagan has successfully used his Sakshi newspaper and TV channel to campaign against the CM, alleging that Rosaiah was trying to undermine YSR’s popular welfare schemes and programmes. The CM did not help his cause when he issued a diktat to legislators against joining Jagan’s yatra; many did anyway, exposing his lack of control.
In their strategy of waiting for Jagan to tire himself out, the party may not have factored in the December-end report of the Srikrishna Committee, which will re-ignite passions in the entire state. Can the Congress wait and watch until Jagan gives up his fight?