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AP parties want state bifurcation stalled until 2014 polls

October 23, 2013 15:57 IST

Though the people of Andhra Pradesh seem to have more or less reconciled to the fact that bifurcation of the state is inevitable, political parties in Seemandhra are leaving no stone unturned to stall the proposed division process, at least till the 2014 elections.

The parties are at least trying to make people of Andhra and Rayalaseema regions believe this in the face of an unabated 85-day-old agitation for a united state.

"We couldn't stop Phailin cyclone, but we will certainly try to stop the (bifurcation) cyclone," Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sought to assure people of Seemaandhra recently.

Interestingly, two days prior to that Kiran spoke in a different tone suggesting that the Centre should go ahead with the state division only by following "due procedure" that it followed during the creation of new states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

Union ministers such as Panabaka Lakshmi, Daggubati Purandeswari and J D Seelam were candid, saying there was no stopping the division now, but Congress Members of Parliament such as Vundavalli Arun Kumar -- who have become the prime target of public anger -- continue to promise that nothing would happen till the 2014 elections.

Some of these parliamentarians are suggesting -- as their "personal view" -- that Hyderabad be made a UnionTerritory. Besides, J D Seelam, Guntur MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao was among those who are pitching for Hyderabad as UT.

Leaders of all hues in Telangana, however, exude confidence that the division Bill is sure to be passed in Parliament in the Winter Session and the new state will be in place by March next, ahead of the general elections.

Even the AP non-governmental organisation Association that spearheaded the government employees strike for 63 days against the proposed bifurcation, is also talking about the division process getting stuck till the elections.

"State division will not happen till 2014 elections. Subsequently, the onus will be on political parties to totally avert it," Association president P Ashok Babu said.

The conflicting claims being made by Congress bigwigs in New Delhi and the public posturing of all political leaders -- on either side of the divide -- in the state are apparently only for public consumption.

Behind the scenes, every party is obviously working its own strategy to outwit the other and derive political gains out of the state division controversy.

The Congress high command sought to take an aggressive stance on Telangana, ever since it decided on July 30 to carve out a separate state. Three months down the line, however, it is now caught on the back foot as its political calculations are seemingly going awry.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti is still cold to the Congress' proposal for a merger, as the former being the torch-bearer of the statehood movement, is positioning itself for a larger role in the "reconstruction" of a "modern Telangana" as and when the new state comes into being.

TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao is already drawing up plans for the reconstruction while the party leaders, led by senior Member of Legislative Assembly Etela Rajender, are busy propagating their leader's "vision" for a modern Telangana.

The TRS, one of its politburo members pointed out, has adopted this line after Congress leaders began a campaign in Telangana claiming credit for the creation of a new state.

On the other side too, the ruling Congress' rumoured deal with the YSR Congress also appears elusive. In an indirect reference to Jagan, Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal and others openly talked about Congress' deal with the YSRC chief to split the state.

Jagan gave the Congress high command the jitters by openly praising the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Political analysts see this as a clever ploy by Jagan to keep his options open. The 'deal' talk has certainly done enough damage to the YSRC and pushed its leadership onto the defensive.

The Seemandhra Congress leaders' optimism of getting the state division process stalled till the next elections, in a way stems from these political happenings across the regions, party sources point out.

Significantly, the Telugu Desam Party and the BJP are treading very cautiously to protect their turfs. Telangana is crucial in the scheme of things for the BJP and will hence not like the Congress walk away with all credit.

The saffron party is accordingly working out plans to ensure at least some of the political benefit accrues to its account for the "unstinted support" it extended for the new state.

By cornering both the Congress and the YSRC on the statehood issue, the TDP hopes to gain politically in both the regions, possibly by tying up with the BJP. For now, the TDP is silent on the alliance with BJP and is waiting for the opportune moment to reveal its cards, according to a politburo member.

Image: Seemandhra government employees protesting against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, in Hyderabad

Photograph: SnapsIndia

Surya Desaraju in Hyderabad
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