Telangana: A Tale of a Divided State

The latest buzzword in all public circles and forums is the monosyllable ‘T’. The sudden announcement from the centre for a separate Telangana State has created a lot of confusion and furore in Andhra Pradesh. The T-Debate is not new in the political arena having been an election trump card for a decade now. The Nizam Kingdom of Telangana was amalgamated into the Indian subcontinent in 1948 after deliberation and struggle in the Operation Polo conducted by the Indian Army. 5 years later the state of Andhra was carved out of Madras and since then there have been a number differences in the state. Telangana, which consists of about 10 districts in the northern part of Andhra Pradesh has always claimed to have been poor compared to their coastal and southern neighbors.

The movement for a separate state took center-stage a couple of times already in the late 1960s and the early 1990s. The Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, which has been the unique identity at the middle of the debate was born out of the 1990s movement and has spearheaded the movement since its inception. To work for the uplifting of poor villages of the Telangana region where development was rare to come was the main motive of the TRS. The 2004 Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh were the first time when the separate state issue became a major electoral trump card and the TRS struck and alliance with the Congress Party owing to the latter’s promises over a separate state. Small and efficient state help proper functioning of Democracy. But is the desire to help the poor from the Telangana districts the only reason for the pressing from the TRS? One cannot be sure. Bifurcating a state increases the number of Members of Parliament. Bigger the numbers for a political party, better the clout. So power could play a major factor in the motives behind the demands for a separate state.

The announcement from the Center of a separate state stirred a majority of MLA’s from other parties like the TDP, PRP (Movie Star Chiranjeevi’s party) and the Congress itself. There was chaos at the assembly next day as around 100 MLAs from all parties put together submitted resignation on their disappointment at the ‘T’ announcement. With the situation worsening all over the State, interim Chief Minister completed a thoroughly turbulent 100 days at office. The “United Andhra” camp is more worried about the loss of Hyderabad which is prone to be announced as the capital of the new state to come. Hyderabad has been the all important pearl as investment has been flowing into the capital city like never before. With the proposal of a new Telangana state and Hyderabad as its capital, Vizag is by far the leader in the race for the Capital city of Rest of Andhra Pradesh. Sentiments have already taken a beating with the separate T announcement and Real Estate developers are predicting a fall in investment and demand in the region. A fight for the already developed Hyderabad is looking to take furious turns as both factions are particular about holding on to the capital city.

The major repercussions of the issue has been a similar demand elsewhere in the country. UP Chief minister for Mayawati is asking for a trifurcation of the state. Demands for Gorkhaland, Maru Pradesh and Bundelkhand are beginning to get severe. In my opinion, the main reason for this confusion in Andhra Pradesh is the necessity to hold on to already developed Hyderabad. Hence the growth story of Hyderabad which has made the city a strategic hub for technology is the major driving force. All and sundry point to the ownership of Hyderabad.

Division of the state will undoubtedly help the plethora of downtrodden villages to take a development curve owing to more attention. It would also help in better governance as a huge state like Andhra Pradesh is politically tough to govern per-se given its size. But using this decision for political or monetary gains would ruin the very idea of splitting the state to make it administratively simpler. Parties that wanted a separate state also look to be divided after a string of resignations. Hence the issue has become political issue of various sorts. Instead of politicizing the issue, bureaucrats from Andhra Pradesh, should act without ulterior motives and take a call on the unnecessary “Rastha roko” and “Rail roko” protests that they are staging.

What remains to be seen is that post Telangana, how many demands will the Government have to give in to. Will it be pressurised to create more states with rising protests? We will soon know…

Pradeep Sekhar

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