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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Andhra debate marked by duality and double-speak, changing stands

Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 09, 2013
First Published: 01:24 IST(9/10/2013) | Last Updated: 03:17 IST(9/10/2013)

The ferment in Andhra Pradesh is a blend of identity, emotion and aspiration. In the conflict where one man’s loss is another person’s gain, its Telangana region is celebrating while Seemandhra fasts in protest.

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Overtaken by the force of events, leaders are eating words, changing positions and articulating sentiments to which they hadn’t subscribed till the other day. For instance, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s “united Andhra” isn’t a status quo ante pitch. It’s a ruse to consolidate Seemandhara behind his fledgling YSR Congress.

Ditto for the Congress that pushed the Telangana plan to salvage a part of the ground it had lost in the state where Jagan’s late father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy so deftly crafted its return to power in New Delhi in 2004. 

 In comparison, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu’s ambivalence on Telangana while flirting with the pro-bifurcation BJP is existential.

His predicament is in his party’s pan-Andhra presence he’s reluctant to forsake by accepting or rejecting upfront the making of the new state.

It’s hard to miss the flaws in the TDP leader’s strategy in a deeply polarised Andhra. It hasn’t won him friends on either side of the divide.

In fact, he runs the risk of falling between two stools; losing out to Jagan in Seemandhra and to the Congress-TRS in Telangana that will send 17 members to the Lok Sabha.

Naidu’s opacity confounds more when read with Jagan’s narrative of Seemandhra’s pangs of disinheritance. The smooth-talking YSR Congress mascot flags Andhra-Rayalaseema’s travails as lower riparian regions, mass dislocation in terms of jobs and education and the carving out of that jewel in the crown, Hyderabad to the conceived state.

It’s another matter that while talking about Seemandhra’s losses Jagan has his eyes fixed on residual Andhra’s 25 Lok Sabha seats. A sweep in the region would make him a major player on the national scene besides securing a fiefdom in the truncated state.

Not a bad game plan for a political neophyte who turned a Congress renegade on being denied the CM’s slot after Rajashekhara Reddy’s demise in a chopper crash.

If it happens, the graft-tainted Jagan’s arrival on the national scene would at once mark the triumph of identity over probity in public life.


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