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Granting Telangana a double-edged sword for Congress

Last updated on: July 12, 2011 14:20 IST

Once fight for Telagana is over, fight for Hyderabad will begin


For the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh the ongoing crisis in Telangana will not end with granting of statehood. The decision on making Hyderabad a common capital or Union Territory will be crucial if it wants to retain power in the state, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

The Telangana controversy is clearly getting messier by the day. Leaders have resigned, the government has a solution on hand but is waiting to make an announcement and then comes the sentiments that the entire state of Andhra Pradesh has attached to the capital city of Hyderabad.

Today, the Congress has a formula on hand -- to hand over Telangana and retain Hyderabad as a common capital for at least ten years. Pro-Telangana supporters and political analysts have always opposed sharing a capital, but one can notice a change in their stand.

Dr Sangam Prithviraj, who has been spearheading the students' movement for Telangana, said, "Does Andhra want time to develop its own capital? If that is the case let them take the time. We are not cruel and do understand their sentiments. They are bound to feel insecure about losing Hyderabad since 80 per cent of the real estate in the city is controlled by the people of Seema-Andhra."

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Image: Pro-Telangana students protest outside Osmania University


'If Cong grants Telangana it will lose support in Andhra-Rayalseema'

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G V L Rao, political analyst who has been watching this movement closely said all talk about a united Andhra Pradesh is trash. The issue is just Hyderabad.

"There is no doubt that real estate is the biggest issue over here and they would try and safeguard Hyderabad in order to protect their interests. Another issue is that of the common man from the Andhra and Rayalseema belt. The common man has an emotional attachment to the city and takes pride that this IT hub is their capital."

According to Rao, in the Andhra-Rayalseema region, Telangana is not an issue at all. The people over there expect governance like the one by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, which the Congress has not been able to provide.


Image: Security beefed up in Hyderabad

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Options for Hyderabad: Common capital or Union Territory?

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"For the Congress to win the hearts of people of all the three regions of the state not only will they have to grant Telangana, but also they would have to utilise the next three years providing better governance in the other two belts," said Rao.

"The present Andhra government should learn a lesson or two from YSR, who managed to woo the Telangana voters. He was never in favour of the movement, but won brownie points for good governance and even the common man from Telangana did not hesitate to chose him as their leader."

The proposal by the Congress to grant statehood to Telangana and retain Hyderabad as the capital of Andhra Pradesh is a significant step.

"However, their plan to keep Hyderabad a common capital only for a fixed time will not go down too well with the people of Andhra and Rayalseema. Ultimately, the government will have to ensure that Hyderabad is left out and made into a Union Territory," said Rao.

"The people of Seema and Andhra will not want Telangana to benefit from their real state ventures and other businesses. They will not feel secure if Hyderabad remains in Telangana," he added.


Image: The Charminar in Hyderabad
Photographs: Reuters
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How Cong can use KCR to their advantage

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Keshava Rao, one of the members of Parliament from Telangana who stepped down, wanted to meet leaders from the Rayalseema and Andhra to put to rest the debate over Hyderabad, which continues to remain a bone of contention.

But the big question remains -- how to convince Andhra Pradesh to give up on Hyderabad. The formula offered needs to be feasible for all the three regions. The people of Telangana may accept a stopgap arrangement, but the question is will the people of the other two regions agree?

"This is when K Chandrasekhar Rao (Telangana Rashtra Samithi president) comes into the picture. Following resignations of MLAs, MPs from Telangana, KCR who was seen as the lone crusader has lost the most. If Congress were to announce a separate state it would work in their favour. KCR in my opinion will turn to the Congress to form an alliance. This, the party will use to its advantage and ask KCR to convince his supporters to agree on Hyderabad as a common capital or to grant it a UT status," said Keshava Rao.


Image: Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhar Rao

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For Congress, threat from Jagan Reddy continues

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According to the MP, leaders from Andhra and Rayalseema are aware that if Hyderabad is handed over to Telangana it leaves the Andhra Pradesh without of major city, which is a hub of employment opportunities.

"The people of Seema-Andhra fear that without Hyderabad they could face discrimination. Apart from the huge real estate interest this is a major psychological issue. Those who have invested in property want the Telangana crisis to be resolved as the agitation has caused the real estate prices to plunge," he added.

But retaining the capital will not help the Congress in countering the threat they face from Jagan. The YSR president enjoys popularity in the Andhra and Rayalseema, but there are cracks within his party as many feel that Jagan is only interested in his personal success. However, these are not issues that the Congress can bank on.

Jagan's statement on Telangana during the YSR Congress plenary was evasive, clearly indicating that he wants to focus more on the rest of Andhra Pradesh. If the Congress does go ahead and declares statehood for Telangana then they would beat him in the belt.

But what Jagan can use to his advantage is the issue of Hyderabad. If the Congress decides on making the city a common capital, Jagan is likely to woo the public of Rayalseema and Andhra saying that the Congress has cheated them on Hyderabad. 

To win the rest of Andhra Pradesh after granting Telangana, the way to fight Jagan is not only an amicable solution on Hyderabad, but also to ensure that Kiran Kumar Reddy continues as chief minister.

"The Congress will have to first settle the issue of Hyderabad. Then they would have to get over the Jagan fixation and focus on governance. Jagan at the moment is promising the moon and the Congress would have to do more than that to beat him," said Rao.


Image: Jagan Reddy pays tribute to his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy at the YSR Congress plenary
Photographs: Snaps India
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