With the division of Andhra Pradesh imminent now, the pertinent question now is over Hyderabad, its capital city famed for four century-old culture and lately world-class infrastructure.
For, the metropolis of seven million people is the prime dispute between Telangana and Seema-Andhra, with neither willing to forego claims over the City of Pearls.
The Centre has proposed the city as the common capital for both states for 10 years, during which Seema-Andhra develops its own capital and thereafter Hyderabad is transferred wholly to Telangana.
When the question is about who is more Hyderabadi, how can the biryani not figure in the debate?
Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, born in Hyderabad but is from the Rayalaseema region, promotes Hyderabadi cuisine at every national and international event, the latest being the International Children’s Film Festival being held now in the city.
And Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) often reminds his Seema-Andhra colleagues of their origins. Rebutting the CM’s apprehensions earlier over the future of Seema-Andhraites settled in the city, KCR had, in his characteristically mocking tone, advised Reddy not to worry and that he could set up a tiffin-centre selling idlis and Andhra curries.
However, there is the prosperous Hyderabad that has become the apple of discord.
The ‘hi-tech city’ — with exports of more than Rs. 40,000 crore IT products annually — houses all the global software giants right from Microsoft to Facebook. The city is the pharma capital and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is considered the best in the country. Premium educational institutions like ISB too are here.
Telangana protagonists refer to history and geography to build a case for the slogan “Hyderabad hamara hein”, and Seema-Andhraites – dominating the IT, pharma and realty sectors in terms of investment and employment – claim it for their contribution in building modern Hyderabad.
The fresh graduates from colleges are more agitated over losing Hyderabad.
Krishna Vamsi (22), who is from Vishakapatnam, has just finished his engineering course.
“How can it be that a city we bonded with and turn to for everything is not ours anymore,” Vamsi asked.
But the interim arrangement on Hyderabad is proving to be a major challenge. While the home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde-headed GoM on bifurcation is tasked with the modalities, demands and disputes over the area, the debate on the duration and administrative structure is heating up (see box).
The Seema-Andhra central ministers, who have softened their opposition to division in comparison to their colleagues in the state, are understood to have asked the GoM to make Hyderabad Union Territory.
“We still stand by united Andhra, but if division is inevitable then we have to look for solutions within the given circumstances,” JD Seelam, Union minister of state, told HT.
It is these Seema-Andhra claims and conditions, TRS leaders say, that are forcing a rethink on the joint capital mechanism.
“There should be a sunset clause in the Telangana bill that the arrangement would be only for five years,” KT Rama Rao, MLA and son of K Chandrasekhara Rao, told HT.
Eminent Hyderabadis are turning melancholic over the uncertain times.
“The issue from the beginning was handled so ineptly that at this juncture a peaceful settlement looks very vague. Hyderabad as it appears now is an apple of discord,” says Narendra Luther, former chief secretary and an authority on the city’s history and geography.