Squatting in a corner of the state secretariat in Hyderabad, Giri Goverdhan has been protesting and also brooding over the irony of his situation.
A lower-grade staff in the agriculture department, he was at the forefront of the movement for the creation of a separate Telangana state. But two years after India’s newest state came into being after being carved out of united Andhra Pradesh, he is mortified to find that he has been allotted to work for the government of present-day Andhra Pradesh, and not the state of Telangana that he toiled for.
But Giri is not alone in protesting. Hundreds of government employees, including lower-court magistrates are up in arms against what they allege are injustices heaped on them as Andhra and Telangana part ways.
Unseemly protests have spilled out on the streets and some 200 judicial magistrates have suspended work. It’s also threatening to snowball into a political showdown with Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao preparing to sit on a dharna in New Delhi, seeking the Centre’s intervention in smoothening what otherwise is proving to be a messy separation.
“Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are suffering from bifurcation blues,” points out retired academic K Purushottam Reddy. As the states strive to untangle from each other and divide men and resources, they have come up against challenges that are souring the separation.
With Hyderabad going to Telangana, the government of Andhra Pradesh is racing against time to set up a new capital for itself in Amaravati. Truckloads of government files are being shifted and thousands of pages of important documents are being scanned and electronically transferred. Entire departments have to be shifted and some 20,000 employees relocated.
But the most daunting task so far has been to divide and decide which employee goes to which state.
Both states agreed to take on in their pay rolls staff who came from their respective regions. Employees who could prove their roots in Telangana went to Telangana government; those from Andhra went to the Andhra government.
But intractable problems arose with those whose nativity was in doubt and those found to be in excess of what the states need. So a committee went to work and came up with a ratio of 52:48 to divide them. Fifty-two percent of them will go to Andhra, 48 to Telangana, the CR Kamalnathan committee recommended.
Goverdhan fell within that 52 percent, was allotted to Andhra, and is now livid. “I have the whole family — my parents, wife and two kids — dependant on me and how can I leave them and go to a new place?” he angrily asks.
The agitating magistrates are meanwhile angry that the 52:48 ratio was not applied while splitting up their ranks.
Instead, the high court provisionally allotted 492 of them to Andhra and 335 to Telangana based on options given by the lower-court judges. Magistrates from Telangana say that 143 of the 335 magistrates given to their state hail from Andhra and will block their promotions.
Many in Telangana want all those from Andhra to quit Telangana and go back to working for Andhra Pradesh. “If the division is completed, the Telangana employees could get promotions, which would lead to new jobs,” says Telangana Electricity Employees Joint Action Committee convenor T Sivaji.
The mood in Telangana is acquiring xenophobic dimensions and even the judiciary is not spared. “Out of 21 judges in high court, 18 belong to Andhra. How can we expect that they will do justice to Telangana?” points out T Sriranga Rao, the convenor of a Telangana lawyers’ association. Undoubtedly, distrust is running high in the wake of the messy divorce.