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It's just a matter of time for Telangana to become a reality

July 19, 2013 08:34 IST

It's just a matter of time for Telangana to become a reality

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It will be interesting to watch whether the Telangana Rashtra Samithi which has said in the past that it would merge with the Congress, if the demand for a separate state is conceded, will actually do it. If that Congress manages it, it would make up to some extent, for the inordinate delay in making the decision, says Girish Nikam

For the protagonists of a separate Telangana state in Andhra Pradesh, it may just be a matter of time now for them to say in their unique Hyderabadi Urdu way, “mian, der aaye durust aaye” (better late than never).  Yes, going by all accounts of the mood within the Congress party leadership at the highest level, and in the United Progressive Alliance government, which anyway reflects the mood in 24, Akbar Road on such issues, the green signal for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is a just a matter of time.

Over three and half years after that near midnight announcement by then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that the process of formation of a separate Telangana state has begun, the promise seems to be coming to fruition. A senior cabinet minister of the UPA government says, “Now it’s just a matter of time, though one or two issues seem to be still unclear.”

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Image: A pro-Telangana supporter listens to a speaker during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Digvijaya is helping putting the final touches to the proposal

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The Chidambaram announcement of December 9, 2009 which had received mixed response, with strong opposition for the creation of a new state, had resulted in it being put on hold two weeks later, which lead to the intensification of the movement in favour of Telangana. Since then many lives have been lost and much public property destroyed. Many alliances have been made and broken and many politicians have jumped parties.

And finally the Congress has come around to the view that there is no other option, politically, but to concede to the demand of a separate state. The last couple of weeks have seen hectic activity with consultations at the highest level of the party, and also between the party and the government.

Though the present general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh is helping putting the final touches to the separation proposal, a large amount of groundwork to bring the proposal to the final stages, had been done by the previous general secretary, Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The consultations have been a long drawn out process, with lots of pressures and pulls from the non-Telangana lobby both within and outside the Congress. The main concern of this lobby has been about the status of Hyderabad. While the Srikrishna Committee report had given five different formulas, it had not made any concrete proposal of how to deal with the issue of Hyderabad. The twin city, which lies in the heart of Telangana, according to its protagonists, just cannot be but a part of the new state.

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Image: General secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh


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Hyderabad may be declared as the capital of the new state

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While the non-Telangana lobby’s concern was once it becomes part of the new state, their interests, which is mainly the huge real estate bank and the investments in many areas including IT and other industries, could get jeopardised.

The solution which seems to have been worked out is to declare Hyderabad as the capital of the new Telangana state, but to give it an independent status, on the lines of Delhi. This would mean that the powers over land and law and order, would be vested with the governor who in turn will report to the Centre, on the lines of the Lt Governor in Delhi.

Will this satisfy the Telangana activists? It may not fully, as they have always demanded that Hyderabad should become an inalienable part of the new state of Telangana and as its capital, should be under the complete control of it. However, very senior sources indicated that since one has to compromise at some stage, a caveat that this situation, of the capital’s land and law and order being under the governor, would be just for a period of ten years, is likely to be incorporated.

Meanwhile, another interesting proposal has been discussed, though no finality seems to have been reached. It is to include Kurnool and Anantapur districts also in the state of Telangana. Though these two districts are part of the Rayalaseema region, the geographical contiguity and a couple of other factors such as the benefit of Krishna waters, seem to the reason behind considering this proposal.

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How far the Congress is going to gain politically?

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These two districts are the major beneficiaries of the Krishna waters, which flows through Telangana, and the benefit of being part of the new state would be that there would be no conflict in utilising their share, while being out of Telangana can cause another river water dispute.

These issues should be settled in some time, before the Congress and the UPA government decides to make an announcement. Already the message that the separation of the state is inevitable is going down in Andhra Pradesh, both in Telangana and non-Telangana regions and when the party leadership feels that it has percolated down sufficiently, the announcement is likely to come, which maybe a matter of weeks.

Of course the question remains as to how far the Congress is going to gain politically, after having dilly dallied in taking a decision for three and half years. During the time it has taken (some say wasted) in coming to the decision it has seen the TRS getting strengthened on the ground, which has resulted in cadres and leaders both from Congress as well as the Telugu Desam Party, shifting to it.

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Jagan and family has also made inroads into Cong strongholds

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On the other hand, during this period, the YSR Congress of Jagan Mohan Reddy and family has also made inroads into Congress strongholds in the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party has been trying to get a foothold in some areas in Telangana.

With just less than 10 months to go before both the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh assembly elections, how much lost ground can Congress regain is a matter of conjecture. The pressure now will shift on to the party cadres in both the Telangana and non-Telangana regions to deliver the results, in this short time available, once the announcement is made.

It will be interesting to watch meanwhile, whether the TRS which has said in the past that it would merge with Congress, if the demand for a separate state is conceded, will actually do it. If that can be managed by the Congress, it would make up to some extent, for the inordinate delay in making a decision.


Image: YSR Congress President Jaganmohan Reddy with mother Vijayalakshmi


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