Telangana Tangle: The Political Football Continues సెప్టెంబర్ 4, 2011Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in agitation, Congress, elections, Identity, JAC, KCR, Mulki, politics, regionalism, Sonia, Telangana, violence.
Tags: Telangana question
The Political Football Continues
After having promised a separate Telengana before the Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and reiterating it five years later, the Congress party now realizes that it has bitten a lot more than it can chew. The recent mass resignation of MPs from the Telengana region, including from the Congress, has added to the party’s woes with none seeming to have a clue about a final solution to the vexed issue, writes K Naresh Kumar from Hyderabad
The more the things change, the more they remain the same. Nothing better can describe the state of affairs in Andhra Pradesh. Rocked by intermittent, violent disturbances since that fateful night of December 9, 2009 when the Home Minister P Chidambaram made his grandiose announcement on ‘ initiating the process’ of forming Telangana state, much water has flowed down Musi river in these 20 months, the banks on which the city of Hyderabad is situated. Still, the tools of political one-upmanship, brazen grandstanding and desperate attempts to regain lost political space in the electoral arena through strategic posturing are all similar. The wheel may have turned full circle for the players of this witless drama, but the solution is still elusive.
Seven months into the current calendar year, the main characters in this l’affaire Telangana are all busy doing what they are supposed to. Mass resignations of nearly 100+ MLAs (out of a total of 113 MLAs from the Telangana region) cutting across party lines was just the beginning. Community cooking and feasting, bandhs, rail roko agitations, relay fasting stunts and a general atmosphere of violence and restlessness has affected the capital city and the entire region of what some call, the newest ‘disputed’ territory!
The fallout of all this has been that the stage has got crowded with the main party – Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) – challenged severely by a resurgent faction of the ruling Congress party – calling itself Telangana Congress. The late entrant, a prodigal child of sorts, the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) too has done enough to lay a claim to its lost vote share in the 10 districts of Telangana. Naidu even dreams of a snap poll and says he has his team in place to ensure that his party benefits hugely from this imbroglio.
TRS is also being invited by the Congress to ‘merge’ it with the latter, if an iconoclastic Congress MP Madhu Yashki Goud is to be taken seriously! The former, for its part, also played ball by joining with the fasting Congress MPs with its leader, the mercurial K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), sporting a Congress party gear! A classic case of ‘join them if you can’t beat them’ syndrome! So much so, the ruling party now finds enough breathing space in the Telangana region where they were mortally afraid of stepping in even to visit their constituencies! In a single stroke, the unpredictable political stance of KCR has given the much needed legitimacy to the Congress, whose leaders were uniformly vilified by the TRS party cadre of being the biggest stumbling blocks in the formation of Telangana.
Already, subtle messages, careful plants in the media and euphemistic comments are being made about how the West Bengal government has managed to tame the Gorkhaland issue, with a tripartite agreement for setting a Gorkhaland Territorial Agreement largely dousing the fire in the hills of Darjeeling. Parallels are also being drawn with the Telangana problem, not totally unexpected at that. It is however anybody’s guess if the warring leaders from Hyderabad would opt for such quick fix solutions, as the case for separate statehood dates back more than four decades.
The Congress high command, long used to sending conflicting, confusing signals on the issue, after assuming power in 2004, is somehow seen as directionless, may be deliberately so. The appointment of Ghulam Nabi Azad as the state-in-charge two months ago has added to the mindlessness that envelops the political strategy, being played out from Delhi.
The isolation of the Telangana Congress leaders who went on umpteen trips to the capital, their meetings and discussions with the powers-that-be and their singularly disappointed reactions about not getting what they wanted (‘at least an assurance’) have only gone to prove that the Congresswallahs may have started a game which is not ending when they wanted it to. Added to their bewilderment is the welcome their counterparts from the other two regions of the state got, when they met the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi to express their opinions about keeping the state united.
Azad, fresh from his comment made recently that it requires a unanimous resolution in the assembly to enable the formation of Telangana is now contemplating a wide-ranging discussion with all the players in the state to keep the pot boiling! The Srikrishna Committee report too is in the news for its ineffectiveness in settling the issue, having done nothing tangible to solve the problem.
As a sideshow in this entire drama, the ambivalence of the enfant terrible Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and his YSR Congress party on the raging issue of Telangana statehood has deflected some attention from the local government and its helplessness in stemming open dissent. With the High Court sanctioning a CBI enquiry into his assets, there are many in the ruling party who are going around in the state, convinced that the YSR hangover is now a thing of the past on this Congress government. It was not totally unexpected that Jaganmohan Reddy would have to face the whirlwind of hostility but neatly dovetailing it into the ongoing brouhaha about Telangana statehood and the future of Hyderabad city was indeed a bonus for all his opponents
The state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), led by Akbaruddin Owaisi, the MP representing the old city of Hyderabad has also found their voices in the recent times. While BJP has been seen along the TRS- led Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), spearheading action at the field level, it has also recently told its cadre to simultaneously support the ‘Jai Andhra’ movement gaining ground in the other parts of the state, supporting the unified state status. The MIM, which has kept a low profile, has stood its ground when it comes to the status of Hyderabad as its leader asserted that it would be a part of Telangana and not a Union Territory or a ‘shared capital’ as some assume. MIM however has also been concerned about the diminished representation of its community in the state assembly, even as it is widely assumed to be influential in deciding the outcome of nearly 20-25 seats in the Telangana region with a fairly even presence of Muslims in its ten districts.
In this complex scenario, assurances are flying thick and fast that a solution to the vexed issue is round the bend. If it was only KCR spouting such placebos, the Congress too has been emboldened to say similar things. Unconfirmed reports also speak about the next level being the forthcoming 2012 elections in Uttar Pradesh when the PM-inwaiting Rahul Gandhi would take a final call after the electoral outcome and the final decision on Bundelkhand region’s claim for a separate state. Till then the classic Congress policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound is bound to keep the political temperature hot and happening in Hyderabad.
Many alternatives, floated by interested parties speak of the state being be split into three with Rayalaseema also getting its own political identity separately from the Andhra region. Kite flying of such proportions, made with intent to protect one’s political turf and commercial interests in the capital city of Hyderabad are being made ad nauseum. Meanwhile, Telangana continues to remain a distant dream.