Originally Published 2011-07-16 00:00:00 Published on Jul 16, 2011
The Andhra crisis illustrates the inability of the UPA government to arrive at a decision in respect of the Telangana problem. This attitude of drift has been noticed for well over 50 years. And the Centre has shown little understanding while handling with socio-political issues of Telugu speaking districts of the erstwhile Madras Presidency.
Andhra turmoil: Only Telangana creation can help
ANDHRA PRADESH is in a state of turmoil once again with political turbulence threatening to burst out from the Telangana region. The majority of the elected representatives from Telangana, cutting across party lines, submitted their resignations to the respective presiding officers in the state and at the Centre. They included 12 Members of Parliament and 81 MLAs, all belonging to the Congress from Telangana. In a show of unity in demanding Telangana, the MLAs of the Telugu Desam Party, the CPI and the BJP also resigned. In all, 99 of the 119 MLAs from the Telangana region decided to resign.

The Telangana Joint Action Committee, coordinating the agitation, used this opportunity to give a call for a 48-hour bandh on July 5 and 6.

The Congress general secretary-in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, tried to dissuade the legislators from precipitating a crisis in the state, but to no avail. The Chief Minister of Andhra, Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy, also could not succeed in making them change their decision.

The Telangana agitation has assumed a more serious dimension after the resignation of parliamentarians and legislators. The Congress high command and the government are unable to arrive at a decision. The December 9, 2009, statement by the Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, cannot be overlooked, much less forgotten. The Telangana legislators are demanding the implementation of the promise made in 2009.

The Justice Srikrishna Report is another major issue which has not been dealt with satisfactorily so far. Apart from the preliminary discussion with the Home Minister and with the party leaders from Andhra Pradesh on the various recommendations made by Justice Srikrishna, nothing has been done. It was announced that after the assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducheri, a decision would be taken. However, there has been no movement on the issue.

The Andhra crisis illustrates the inability of the UPA government to arrive at a decision in respect of the complicated Telangana problem. In fact, this attitude of drift has been noticed for well over 50 years. It may be recalled that the State Re-organisation Commission of 1955 with Justice Fazal Ali as Chairman had inter alia recommended the formation of Telangana state. This recommendation was ignored by the Centre. There were indeed no valid reasons why the recommendation was not implemented.

In handling the socio-political issues emanating from the Telugu-speaking districts of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, the Centre had shown little understanding. When the demand for Andhra state snowballed into a major agitation in the early 1950s, Potti Sriramalu's announcement of fast-unto-death on the Andhra issue was ignored by the Centre. The death of Sriramalu led to extensive riots and damage to public properties in the Telugu-speaking districts of the Madras Presidency, which included Rayalaseema and Telangana. The Andhra state, which came into being in 1953, initially had its capital in Kurnool in the Rayalaseema area. Even at that time, there were demands for Telangana as well as for a coastal state. However, the Telangana demand was consistent and this was conceded by the Fazal Ali Commission, but not implemented by the Centre.

There were widespread agitations in the early 1960s. The Telangana Praja Samiti led by Dr Channa Reddy spearheaded the agitation demanding the declaration of Telangana as a state. However, Dr Reddy gave up the agitation, joined the Congress party and became a minister in the state. Later he emerged as Chief Minister of Andhra. But the demand for Telangana was never given up. The agitation was revived in 2009 by K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who headed the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, a composite body consisting of various parties and groups.

The Justice Srikrishna Committee report, recommending various options, has been under examination by the Centre, but it has not been able to make up its mind regarding its implementation. At one stage, the Centre almost decided to reject the Telangana demand, but announced the formation of a regional council with constitutional guarantees.

The present crisis, precipitated by the resignation by so many MPs and MLAs representing the Telangana region, is far more serious and cannot be ignored. Apart from the law and order problem, which can possibly be handled with mixed results, stability in Andhra Pradesh itself is at stake. If the MLAs' resignations take effect, the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh is most likely to fall. An alternative Congress government is nowhere in sight unless a favourable decision is taken on Telangana.

Andhra Pradesh goes in for the next Assembly elections in 2014 along with the parliamentary polls. The prospects for the Congress party appear dim not only in Telangana, but also other regions, particularly Rayalaseema. Unless Telangana is conceded, the Congress may be wiped out in the districts in this region. In Rayalaseema, Mr Jaganmohan Reddy, who has raised the banner of revolt against the Congress high command, is most likely to capture most of the seats for his newly formed YSR Party. In the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, people may partly vote for the Congress and partly for other parties like the TDP. Should the Congress go adrift and face such a huge setback in 2014 elections?

The Congress Core Committee discussed the Telangana crisis when it met on July 6. The Home Minister also held a Press briefing but there was no decision on the burning issue of Telangana.

The reports from Hyderabad speak of the situation having reached a point where only an announcement regarding the formation of Telangana can bring about a change. The Centre and the Congress, however, seem to be in no mood to oblige those demanding the creation of a Telangana state. Whether the crisis will be resolved soon remains to be seen.

(The writer is a former Governor of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and now an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation)

Courtesy: The Tribune
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