The dictum ‘never put off till tomorrow what you can do today’ is certainly not one that guides the Congress. This is clear in its decision to defer the resolution of the demand for a separate Telangana state for another day. With threats of protests from pro-Telangana factions, the situation is likely to create a major headache once again for both the Centre and the state government.
It was home minister Sushilkumar Shinde who set the ball rolling by saying on December 28, 2012, that there would be a decision in a month. So we can expect to see life thrown into disarray in the state with students losing out on education thanks to bandhs, businesses suffering, people missing work and other forms of disruption. The tricky issue in dividing the state and creating Telangana is mainly the status of Hyderabad which no one is willing to let go of. However, this is not an intractable one. The problem is that the Centre seems to believe that unending talks with leaders from the state can solve the problem. By now, surely the views of the major players are known. For the Congress, Andhra Pradesh is a crucial state in the larger picture for it has a sizeable number of Lok Sabha seats. It is inexplicable that it is no longer talking about the Srikrishna report which it had commissioned. The report came up with several options, all of which seem to have been ignored. Perhaps, the best option suggested in the report was to give greater socio-economic power to the Telangana region and set up a statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council. The other could have been to give Hyderabad Union Territory status. There is no doubt any option will be opposed by some quarter or the other, but masterly inaction will solve nothing.
The Centre would do well to come up with a few solutions of its own based on the Srikrishna report before it engages in another round of talks with leaders from the state. Already, in the absence of any initiative from the Centre and state government, parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samithi have appropriated the issue. The sort of violence and chaos that we have seen over the Telangana issue will come at a huge political cost to the Congress in the state which was once its stronghold. It has to grasp the nettle now even if it proves politically painful.