The arbitrary announcement by the UPA government that it would bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, paving the way for the creation of Telangana, is a classic example of political hara-kiri by the party. The decision to divide the state is not only against the mandate of the 2009 Parliament and assembly
polls but has been arrived at without any rationale or adequate consultations.
What is appalling is that the announcement was made after a meeting of the Core Committee and without even the Union Cabinet’s endorsement. Worse, if such a proposal was to be announced, then Parliament, which is in session, was the appropriate forum. The move not only lacks constitutional sanction but is also devoid of propriety. The announcement will precipitate a crisis in many other states where similar demands have been pending.
It is alarming to think that along with Andhra Pradesh, now caught up in political unrest, supporters of a separate Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Harit Pradesh, Bundelkhand, Poorvanchal, Gorkhaland, Bodoland, Jammu and Ladakh may also take to the streets. In the process, the Centre is likely to come in for a severe criticism from all quarters if and when such agitations spread across the country.
People have been suffering the acute price rise in silence. Regional forces will now play on their emotions and encourage them to demand the creation of new states. Even politically, the Congress, which had done well to minimise the role of regional players, may find that chauvinistic forces may once again appropriate the space it had sought to recover in various regions. Far-fetched though it may sound, heightened agitations in various regions could pose a big challenge to the Centre’s continuation in office. The political class has already branded the present government as one of babus. In the midst of emotions running high, a senior official has given further proof of the growing role of babus by publicly agreeing that Hyderabad will be the capital of Telangana. So now we have bureaucrats deciding on the capital of a state whose creation itself is in doubt.
The manner in which the issue has been handled demonstrates that the decision-making mechanism in the government is faulty. Why else would a decision, which is likely to severely affect the Congress in its best state, be taken so casually? There has been no reference point on the subject from the State and neither has the Centre put forward any proposal in Parliament. But a decision has arbitrarily been taken. Why?
The issue has also raised questions on whether this was done because someone in the party wanted to divert attention from the various scams. Or was this done to finish the late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s influence so that his son Jagan would not inherit his legacy? Or was this due to the power politics within the Congress.
Whatever the compelling reasons, the announcement has put the Congress on the mat and the government will have to bear the consequences.
The mass resignation of MLAs and MPs from Andhra is an indication of how sensitive the matter is. In the 2009 assembly polls when the Telangana Rashtra Samiti contested on the issue of a separate state, it got only 10 out of 117 seats in the region. Clearly, the mandate was for a unified Andhra. So whose ‘wise’ advice did the Congress and the government’s leadership listen to on this issue? In any case, the Congress now has a lot to worry about in its 125th year. Between Us.