The second day of the last session of the present Lok Sabha saw a ruckus in Parliament over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh — into Telangana and Seemandhra. Scenes of MPs walking into the well of the House, shouting slogans and stalling its proceedings have now become par for the course, they were a constant feature in the previous sessions as well.
Congress leader and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sat in protest against the Centre’s bifurcation move in Delhi and met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday to request him to stop it. If this was not embarrassing enough, some Congress MPs even gave a notice of no-confidence against the prime minister.
The political atmosphere has been so badly vitiated that the Union Cabinet’s review on the proposal will not be of much help to the Congress. If the party were to drop the issue at this juncture, it would show the central leadership in poor light and would further antagonise the Seemandhra region. However, the political dividends of pressing ahead with the bifurcation are minimal, especially after the Andhra Pradesh assembly rejected the Centre’s bifurcation Bill.
For a party that has been in power in Andhra Pradesh since 2004, the Congress has shown an alarming lack of skill in addressing the Telangana issue. This last-minute enthusiasm suggests that the party is more interested in the poll arithmetic than the welfare of the people from both the regions.
If the party thought that the bifurcation would improve its chances of winning the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Seemandhra region, the protests from the region and its MPs have cast doubts on that. The Congress’ dilly-dallying has given a new lease of life to K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
The Congress also underestimated the support base of YSR Congress (YSRC) chief Jaganmohan Reddy. In 2009, Andhra Pradesh, by voting in 33 of the 42 MPs, played a crucial role in the giving the requisite numbers to the Congress-led UPA to form the government at the Centre. With the YSRC, the TRS and Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP gaining momentum, and the revolt within the state Congress unit, the party’s prospects in the assembly and general elections don’t look too bright at the moment.
If the discussion on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has reached this state, the blame is squarely on the Congress’ poor political management. Gone are the days when Delhi would decide and the states would nod in approval. The Congress has sown the wind by ignoring the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh, and it is now reaping the whirlwind of discontent and protest.