Caution and consensus are two words which best characterise the Congress while taking most decisions. But when it came to a decision as politically explosive as the one on Telangana, the party seems to have thrown both to the winds.
It appears to have acted in haste even though it is fully aware that elections are around the corner and now the disastrous results have kicked in. The Congress’s plea that it had got the assent of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Telugu Desam Party’s leader Chandrababu Naidu on the decision smacks of extreme naiveté.
For both leaders are known to be opportunistic and, predictably, they have gone back on their word. Mr Reddy is on a fast in Andhra Pradesh and Mr Naidu is on a fast in Delhi to get the decision reversed. The controversial decision has been so long coming that the Congress could well have deferred it for a while more.
So the only explanation is that it hoped to pick up seats in the Telangana region and even get the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which had been agitating for a separate state, on board. So what we see is shortsighted political management and an unseemly haste to rush into a decision without tying up the loose ends.
The TRS leader, true to form, has already begun creating trouble by saying that people from Seemandhra are not welcome in the future Telangana state, putting the Congress in a further bind. Much of Andhra today is crippled by protest bandhs and shutdowns, creating enormous hardship to people, not to mention economic losses.
If the Congress was not able to read the intentions of political opponents correctly, it also seems to have failed to discern the unrest within its own ranks. Its MPs from Andhra are upset and its ministers have quit in anger. The problem also arises from the fact that the division of assets has not been addressed and the issue of the capital has been arrived at hastily, allowing opponents to gain political mileage.
Clearly, the Congress did not do it homework well. If the Congress had gone to the people with a clear blueprint, instead of being swayed by political compulsions, it may have been able to sell the idea of Telangana to a much wider audience.
But, instead after setting up committee after committee and holding consultations here and there, it suddenly decided to grant Telangana with a joint capital of Hyderabad. Given the unrest in the state, if the Congress had hoped to revive its fortunes in Andhra, that prospect looks increasingly difficult now.