‘The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing’ — this phrase best describes the present crisis the Congress is facing in Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress-led UPA at the Centre wants the creation of India’s 29th state Telangana, by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, but the leaders in Hyderabad are literally in two minds. While chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is opposing the move, his deputy, Damodar Raja Narasimha, is for a separate Telangana state.
In a move that highlights this divide and which puts a question mark over the Centre’s plan to introduce a Bill for a separate Telangana in Parliament, Reddy on Saturday issued a notice to Speaker Nadendla Manohar seeking a motion for returning the draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill to the Centre.
Mr Reddy rejected the Bill stating that it did not give a ‘reason/basis’ for the bifurcation of the state. On Monday, the divide came out in the open with repeated adjournments of the assembly and with Mr Narasimha even demanding Mr Reddy’s resignation.
At the heart of the debate are the sentiments of the people on the Telangana and Seemandhra sides — both sides feel that they have been given short shrift. While one side of the divide blames the government for delaying the creation of the Telangana state, the other side criticises the ‘unjust’ division of the state and its resources.
The state government, and the Centre, should have seen this coming. They should have taken the people from both sides of the divide into confidence, listened to their grievances and arrived at a formula that was acceptable to all parties.
It was not for want of time that the party finds itself in the present mess — the call for a separate Telangana has been on for decades and it has been more than three years since Justice BN Srikrishna handed over his committee’s recommendations on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
No matter how things pan out in Andhra Pradesh, one thing is clear: the Congress has failed to read the mood of the people. It has for far too long been unclear on its commitment to the creation of Telangana.
This suggests bad political management and will have an impact not only the on the state elections but also on the Lok Sabha elections, both to be held in a few months. If opinion polls are anything to go by, the Congress, which had won 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2009, will find it very hard to even get half of that tally.
For a Congress that has been on the backfoot after the drubbing it received at the recent assembly elections held in four states, this is not good news.