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UPA bends, breaks rules for Telangana bill

comment Updated: Feb 19, 2014 11:09 IST
Hindustan Times
Telangana bill passed

It is akin to closing your eyes in the hope that the bogeyman will go away. The UPA government seems to have erred in following a similar course in the Lok Sabha by shutting off the telecast as the controversial Bill on Telangana was being passed through a voice vote. The government is either imprudent or naïve to think that this will actually block out the news about the Bill.

It was just the other day that people were disgusted by the antics of several MPs from Andhra Pradesh who used novel ways like bringing a can of pepper spray to the House to protest the tabling of the Bill. But now, it is the government which is in the dock for its cloak and dagger way of pushing the Bill through.

The creation of a 29th state is a monumental issue. It should have been done only after all the stakeholders were taken into confidence and all the homework done. But, the government opted for half measures all the way. At each step, it seems to have been guided by electoral compulsions rather than the welfare of all the people of the state. The state already convulsed by unrest is likely to witness violence from those against the move. It is entirely feasible to have smaller states, though the Indian experience has not been terribly encouraging. But when it involves the sentiments of different sections of the people, actively fanned by opportunistic politicians, the government should have been doubly careful. It had a godsend opportunity in the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission.

It came up with viable solutions which could have served as a halfway house while the government worked to get everyone on board. Among its recommendations was greater devolution of power to the Telangana region and a common capital in Hyderabad. This would not have pleased everyone but it would have been a reasonable stopgap arrangement.

If there is violence, which seems likely, the Centre has to be prepared to tackle it. Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is so disillusioned with the government’s acquiescence in bifurcating the state that he plans to resign shortly. This will throw the UPA government into serious trouble and will have a catastrophic effect on the Congress’ chances in the coming elections.

The Bill could have been passed without all the drama of stopping the telecast. This amounts to an undermining of democracy on an already fraught issue. The passage of the Bill in this underhand manner has only created more problems for the government. This was something it could have avoided at this politically volatile time.