The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have learnt a bitter lesson from its past mistake of letting down the people of Telangana for the sake of the Telugu Desam Party’s support to the Atal Bihari Vajpaee-led National Democratic Alliance government. This time it is refusing to do the same.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj on Saturday poured cold water on the hopes of TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu that the BJP would soften its support on Telangana in exchange of his hand of friendship.
Addressing a mammoth rally of Telangana supporters in Mahbubnagar, Andhra Pradesh, on Saturday, Swaraj made it clear that whether the BJP entered into an alliance or not, there would not be any change in the party's support to the cause of Telangana.
“Alliance or no alliance, there will be no change in our stand on Telangana. The BJP was and will always be in support of the Telangana state. No alliance will be at the cost of Telangana,” she said.
Swaraj said that alliance partners will be needed for providing a strong and stable government at the Centre, but did not comment on its alliance with the TDP saying it was in the realm of future possibilities. She denounced the reports in the Andhra media that the BJP was taking a U-turn on Telangana and will betray the faith of the people of the region. “Why will we do any such thing? I want to assure you that the BJP will never let down the people of Telangana,” she said.
Her remarks were significant in the context of speculations about an alliance between the TDP and the BJP. She recalled that even after meeting with Naidu, BJP President Rajnath Singh had made it clear that there will not be any change in the party’s stand. “The BJP was, is and will always be in support of Telangana,” she said.
Swaraj said that BJP’s support to Telangana was not due to any political reasons but to ensure a balanced development of all the regions. “If Andhra leaders had ensured the development of Telangana, the demand for a separate state would not have come up,” she said.
The leader of opposition in Lok Sabha said that while people of Telangana were happy over the decision of the Congress Working Committee to form a separate state, there were also apprehensions among them because they were let down many a times by the Congress, the latest being in December 2009.
“We will wait till December for the Congress to introduce the Telangana Bill in the Parliament in the winter session. If that does not happen then the BJP will plunge in to the second phase of protests for Telangana state,” she said.
She advised the Congress to utilise the two months before the winter session to solve all the problems raised by the people of Seemandhra.
Playing down the problems like river water and electricity sharing, raised by Seemandhra leaders as natural corollary to the division of a state, she said that once Telangana becomes a reality, the situation in Seemandhra would normalise. “We want Telangana and Andhra to separate like civilised brothers,” she said.
Swaraj rued that while three new states were formed by the NDA without spilling a single drop of blood and the entire affair was smooth, here the decision of the Congress was opposed by its own leaders including the chief minister. “The difference is that while we had taken all the stakeholders into confidence, the Congress did not take even its own chief minister into confidence,” she said.
She also demanded that the Telangana Bill should be in accordance with the decision of the CWC that the new state will have ten districts and Hyderabad will be its capital. “Nothing else will be acceptable,” she said.
Swaraj said that the BJP was supporting only a geographic division of the state and not the division of the hearts and minds of the people. “We want a division like that of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” she said.
She also had a word of caution for the leaders and people of Telangana, “Don’t make provocative speeches and statements which will create insecurity among the Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad. Humility in victory is necessary,” she said.