Disproving myths over bifurcation

Disproving myths over bifurcation

Public memory might be short-lived. But, if one recalls the fierce debate during the run-up to the bifurcation of the state three years ago, one would easily recollect many doomsday predictions, claims and counter claims over the possible plight of the people of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation. 

Public memory might be short-lived. But, if one recalls the fierce debate during the run-up to the bifurcation of the state three years ago, one would easily recollect many doomsday predictions, claims and counter claims over the possible plight of the people of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation.

The prominent theory often floated by the protagonists of united state was that the smaller states would dampen growth prospects. But, the official data in both the states clearly disproves these claims.

There has been a distinct upward shift in the growth trajectory of the state year on year since its formation in 2014. The growth of gross state domestic product (GSDP) at constant prices improved from 5.6 per cent in 2013-14 to 8.7 per cent in 2014-15 and further to 9.5 per cent in 2015-16. In 2016-17, the Telangana economy registered a double digit growth. While the country‘s growth rate is pegged at 7.1 per cent, the Telangana despite a new state could grow at over 10 per cent rate.

The impressive economic growth of the state is achieved despite the recessionary impact induced by demonetisation and years of deficient rainfall resulting in negative growth rate in agriculture. The economic performance of the new state of Telangana dispels the prediction that the smaller state would face depressed economic conditions.

But, one can still argue that Telangana‘s macro-economic success story is due to the fact that the state could retain the vibrant capital, Hyderabad.

The prediction for Andhra Pradesh was much more fearsome. The state without a capital and absence of a well-built industrial base was expected to mire in deep economic crisis. But, the official data of Government of Andhra Pradesh disproves these prediction often made with political intent to rouse emotions among the people.

The Finance Minister of Andhra Pradesh in his recent budget speech stated, “Undaunted by the numerous challenges post-bifurcation, including a huge revenue deficit, we have surged ahead on various parameters. We are leading the country in GSDP growth.”

As per advanced estimates, Andhra Pradesh could successfully post a healthy growth of 11.61 per cent during 2016-17 surpassing even the growth rate of Telangana economy.

The official data of respective state governments disprove the argument that the smaller states are an anti-thesis to economic performance.

Yet another more prominent prediction was that Telangana that suffered from power deficit would plunge into darkness. It’s true that the region that now constitutes Andhra Pradesh was a power surplus region and the region now called the state of Telangana was a power deficit region.

But, contrary to the claims of those who opposed bifurcation including the then Chief Minister, Telangana‘s power position is way ahead of the state of affairs in the united Andhra Pradesh. The united state used to witness severe power cuts. Even it led to industrial closures. But, Telangana made remarkable turnaround in power situation with almost no power cuts.

At the time of formation, the installed capacity of power generation was only 6,574 MW. An additional capacity of 4,190 MW was added that resulted in a significant improvement in the power situation in the state. By the end of the current year, another 4,130 MW of additional power will be available. The critics of bifurcation also forecast that the two states would indulge in unprecedented disputes and the safety of Seemandhra people will be in serious jeopardy in Hyderabad.

The provisions like common capital for 10 years and Section 8 of the State Reorganisation Act were envisaged as instruments to meet this situation. But, nothing of that sort seems to be evident on the ground. The life of the people from other regions is business as usual despite the administration of Andhra Pradesh moving to Amaravati. Even the sharing of employees is more or less a smooth affair despite some irritants which are expected of any bifurcation. In fact, the bifurcation of Punjab has seen protracted legal tangle. No such situation exists here.

The two states have more or less got reconciled to the reality of bifurcation barring some irritants in sharing water and properties. Given the magnitude of emotions that were seen during the time of bifurcation these irritants are not certainly insurmountable. In a democracy where politics always aims at playing with the sentiments of the people, such annoyance is expected.

The post bifurcation experience also revealed the empty rhetoric of the movement for separate state. There were loud claims of reclaiming the lost land to so-called settlers. But, nothing of that sort is seen. There was also a talk of ridding Telangana of the influence of corporate colleges but, competitive colleges are now planned further increasing the grip of corporate sector on education.

The movement for separate state promised radical restructuring of the socio- economic landscape of Telangana. But, unless the political culture changes, such a socio-economic transformation is not possible with mere bifurcation of a state. Though the movement for separate state did not agree with this argument, the post-bifurcation experience with politics proves this beyond doubt.

The political culture prevailing in the state of Telangana is no way different from that existed in the united Andhra Pradesh state.

Yet another powerful promise was that the bifurcation would result in humongous vacancies as non-Telanganites occupy most of the government jobs in this region in the united state. But, this proved to be a slogan to attract youth especially students into movement for separate state.

The bifurcation has certainly altered the political landscape in two states. The bifurcation has inflicted a body blow to the TDP in Telangana. However, the TDP was the chief beneficiary of bifurcation as it was dramatically catapulted to power in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.

The TRS that spearheaded the movement for separate state could obviously become a formidable force in the new state.

The YSR Congress that failed to rise up to the people’s expectations in the wake of bifurcation has suffered at the hustings. The party was also the victim of over confidence and failure to locate itself in the right national context as the people of the truncated state were looking towards the centre for support.

The Congress was the obvious looser in Andhra Pradesh as the people punished it for the bifurcation which they strongly resented. But, the Congress failed to gain even after granting statehood to Telangana. The party seems to be not making a significant headway in the state. However, the fact remains that the Congress will be the obvious choice if anti-incumbency against the TRS regime galvanises.

Politics have a nature of undergoing dynamic changes. But, the initial economic trends in both the states are quite encouraging, thus belying the claims of those who predicted a disaster in the wake of bifurcation.

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