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As 2011 arrives, AP hurtles to political crisis

December 31, 2010 21:30 IST

Andhra Pradesh is entering the year 2011 thoroughly exhausted and shaken by the political instability, uncertainty and onslaught of one calamity after another during the year bygone. And the outlook for the next year does not look good either as the political parties are bracing up for a new round of battle. Sadly, as usual, the people are caught in the middle helplessly.

2010 has left the state on a precarious and critical juncture, as there is a big question mark on the integrity and unity of Andhra Pradesh. Even as the Union government has decided to go public next week with the report of the Justice Srikrishna commission and also lay bare its own thinking on how it intends to tackle the demand for a separate Telangana state, it is obvious that either way the state was hurtling towards a serious political crisis.

Already many political pundits were talking of imminent imposition of Presidents' rule in the next few weeks.

2010 was marked by uncertainty as the Congress failed to find a suitable replacement to fill the gap caused by sudden death of its strong man YS Rajasekhar Reddy in September 2009.

His tragic demise continued to cast its dark shadow on the state politics, specially in the Congress party, over the last one year.

His son Y S Jaganmohan Reddy mounted a challenge to the party leadership in his drive to claim his father's legacy.

Veteran K Rosaiah's failure in dealing with the internal squabbling of the party and in providing an effective leadership was so glaring that he had to be replaced by another leader Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy.

But this change in leadership has only precipitated the matters and it provoked Jagan Reddy to leave the party and start planning a new party of his own, and in the process weakened the Congress party significantly.

At the last count about 30 Congress MLAs chose to side with him openly as Jagan held a massive show of strength in Vijaywada. This is enough to pull down the Kiran Kumar Reddy government which is already skating on a thin ice.

Telangana, however is going to be the biggest challenge for the Union government and the central leadership of Congress party. If the high command decides to either go against Telangana demand or even delay it, the region was likely to explode as the patience among the people of the region is running out.

Telangana parties as well as Telangana groups within the Congress and Telugu Desam Party have decided to go all out.

Though the government has moved security forces at a massive scale and additional 50 companies of paramilitary forces have been rushed, Border Security Force has been deployed at important places, but if the trouble starts, then no amount of security was likely to stop it.

Apart from Congress, Telugu Desam was likely to face the same situation. While Telangana group in TDP has become active on the eve of the January 6 meetings, the Andhra and Rayala Seema leaders were also becoming restive.

The uncertainty of last one year has already left the state administration in a semi-moribund condition and it was likely to worsen further. Almost one and a half month in to the power, Kiran Kumar Reddy has not been able to establish effective command over the government.

As a last resort to make the ministers fall in line he has threatened that state will come under President's rule if they fail to put the house in order.

The other big problem state faced during 2010 was the series of natural calamities including the heaviest ever rain fall, doubling the average annual rains. The last straw was the heavy rain and floods in December which destroyed standing crops on more than ten lakh hectares in 13 districts.

It has already sparked off a fresh wave of suicides by the farmers, mostly the tenant farmers and pushed the government on the back foot. The opponents including the TDP president Chandrababu Naidu have already taken the advantage of the problem and have gone a political offensive.

Both Naidu and Jagan were vying for the mantle of 'messiah' of the farmers. The penny pinching by the Central government in helping the state has only worsened the woes.

The other major challenges 2010 has left for the new year is the financial crunch hitting the implementation of welfare programs and the persistent efforts by the Maoists to re-enter the state.

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad