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Centre urged to allay Seemandhra concerns

Centre urged to allay Seemandhra concerns
Highlights

Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh : Centre Urged To Allay Seemandhra Concerns. The Central government is not taking any initiatives to allay the apprehensions of Seemandhra people after announcement of the Congress Working Committee’s decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy holds a dialogue on the issues related to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh

Telangana leaders said once the Union Cabinet decides on T State, they are open to discussion on other issues. But they are against the Union Territory status for Hyderabad. They felt mechanisms can be set up for resolution of all issues, but only after the Centre clears the Statehood issue. Leaders supporting united State argued against bifurcation, and pointed out various thorny issues in the way

Prof Yogendra Yadav who chaired the programme said he was encouraged by the deliberations and noted that reconciliation was very much possible despite strong positions taken by all sides

Hyderabad: The Central government is not taking any initiatives to allay the apprehensions of Seemandhra people after announcement of the Congress Working Committee’s decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. This came in for criticism by several participants at a ‘Dialogue’ on the issue conducted by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy here on Saturday.

The Congress and the UPA leadership may have arrived at a position after due consultations with different political parties and deliberations among themselves, but it is incumbent upon them to take into account the fears and anxieties of common people who fear adverse impact of separation of Telangana on their present and future lives.

Those fears may be real or imaginary, or may be stoked by interested quarters, but in any case it is pertinent that the Centre explain actual facts to the people and make it a smooth transition, the speakers said. The participants said that experiences from creation of new States earlier were available and any issues could be resolved accordingly in case of Andhra Pradesh also. What was needed was political will, they observed.

That it is still not late and it can be done without any further loss of time is one of the key points that emerged during the day- long discussions, the organizers said in their media briefing towards the end. The organizers were satisfied that despite raging emotions from both the sides, the participants exchanged views in a “civilized manner”, which they did not really expect and even more satisfying was the fact that several “ways of finding solutions” to different contentious issues emerged in the exercise.

In any case, the participants from various walks of life, including from political parties, were there in their personal capacities, it was pointed out in the briefing. The ‘Dialogue’ christened ‘Dealing with the costs of division, a dialogue towards reconciliation’, was divided into three sessions: Telangana- building a framework for a consensus; Status of Hyderabad and the new capital; and Sharing of resources.

Every mainstream political party was represented and also organizations like TJAC, some local intellectuals and a few distinguished academicians and former bureaucrats from outside the state with considerable experience in these issues participated in the dialogue. All the local participants reiterated their known positions, either on their own or on continuous goading by Prof Yogendra Yadav, a Senior Fellow of the CSDS, Delhi, and a Member of the Board of Advisors, The Hindu Centre. He chaired the all-important first session and also offered certain suggestions towards’ reconciliation’.

At the outset Malini Parthasarathy, Director of the Hindu Centre, said in her opening remarks that they were committed to helping a public dialogue to for nationbuilding. Prof Yadav told the participants that despite the CWC decision to create Telangana, it remained a live and much contested issue. In such a situation they were exploring whether there could be any “shared grounds” between the two sides and a “unified view of division”.

Prof Yadav declared that his own Aam Aadmi Party is in favour of division of the state, yet it wanted the concerns of Seemandhra people, particularly concerning Hyderabad city, be addressed. First speaker K T Rama Rao (TRS) traced out the history of the statehood movement, and emphasized that it was not merely for a separate state of their own but also out of “democratic aspirations”.

Hyderabad was the fifth largest city even before the merger and there was no truth in the argument that the people from Seemandhra brought it to that level. He said Telangana people would not compromise on separation and Hyderabad, but were prepared to discuss any other issues. Later, K Narayana (CPI), K Haribabu (BJP) and Prof M Kodandaram (TJAC) also took staunch positions in favour of Telangana.

Narayana said the people of Seemandhra no doubt had some genuine apprehensions, but they could be addressed by the Centre and the experts. He blamed the Seemandhra politicians for inciting people there for their selfish interests, instead of clearing their fears. Haribabu castigated the Congress party for dealing with the issue as it was a “party affair” and demanded that the Centre take an initiative to allay the apprehensions of Seemandhra people. Actually, by continuing the zonal system after separation, the employees would have no problems. After doing away with 14 (F) and issuing GO 610, the problems were solved and similar methods could be adopted later also. But no one was explaining these issues to them, he rued. Prof Kodandaram explained that if the 1969 movement for Telangana was against the Andhras, besides asking for statehood, the present one was based on the lines of equitable justice and development of both the regions.

“That is the spirit of our movement”. He told the gathering that even the Srikrishna Committee took note of this. Some parties tried to discuss issues that may arise out of division in the Assembly but were not allowed to do so. Otherwise they had been holding dialogue with several quarters from the other side. He assured the chair that once the Cabinet takes final decision on the issue it would no more remain in the sphere of Congress party and the questions related to Hyderabad, water, employment, security etc can certainly be discussed and resolved by experts and officials.

In his brief speech, Gade Venkata Reddy (Cong) merely stated that continuing the united state was the only way out and if at all some alternatives were sought after it should be as per the CWC resolution of 2001 which prescribed Second States’ Reorganization Commission. Another representative of his party M Gangadharam said the CWC took the decision after wide consultations but apprehensions should be addressed.

B V Raghavulu (CPM) felt that these kinds of sessions were not going to yield anything since the emotions were too high on both the sides. When the Centre itself had not taken any initiative for reconciliation this was a “premature” attempt in that direction, he observed. Yet, he thought the issues related to waters, Hyderabad could be resolved if there was a political will. As per Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta), solutions were very much possible if necessary mechanisms were set up. Since division of state, in case it took place, was going to be in favour of Telangana they should be considerate towards the other side, he suggested.

He particularly emphasized the problems of Anantapur and Rayalaseema. Similarly, Mysoora Reddy (YSRCP) dealt with the water issues of Rayalaseema and said that was a major reason why his party was opposed to division of the state. Taking a slightly different position, Syed Amin Jaffri (MIM) suggested that since a decision had been taken to form Telangana, that was a fait accompli for all and it should be taken as such. While saying a strong ‘no’ to UT status for Hyderabad, he found fault with the Centre for talking of a common capital but not clarifying issues, which created confusions and ruckus. About 50 lakhs of Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts had economic and numerical strength but instead of creating problems they should accept Hyderabad to be part of the new state.

Towards the end of the first session replying to queries from audience, KTR said once the decision of CWC was implemented, the issues concerning waters could be resolved by committees. Taxes were location-based and since Hyderabad was part of India, none should have any problems in working in private sector here or in pursuing their business activities.

Prof Yadav who said he was felt encouraged by the deliberations noted that reconciliation was very much possible despite strong positions taken by all sides. So continuation of dialogue was necessary. A range of options was already arrived at, he noted.

Hyderabad issue

Session Two on the status of Hyderabad was as good as a one-sided one. The speakers Prof Rama Melkote, Burgula Narsinga Rao, Prof M Sridhar, N Venugopal—all rejected the concept of Union Territory. Even J A Chowdary, the former director of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) Hyderabad, who belongs to Anantapur, said the apprehensions of Seemandhra youth could be cleared with proper initiatives. So the process of division should be completed soon. Adusumilli Jayaprakash (YSRCP) created a small flutter remarking that the State was going to remain united and as such the symposium was a waste.

He refused to talk any further. In a way, the star of this second session was P Joy Oommen, IAS, the former Chief Secretary of Chattisgarh. Narrating his experiences as the head of the project for construction of New Raipur as the capital of Chhattisgarh, he rejected the concept of even joint capital. When Madhya Pradesh was divided, the mother state did not finance building a new capital for Chhattisgarh. There was also no revenuesharing between the two states, he said.

Dr Asha Sarangi, Associate Professor of JNU, Delhi, who chaired the session was of the view that despite political decisions it was not an easy task and issues of people’s livelihoods needed to be addressed.

Sharing of Resources

Participants in the third session, which was chaired by Dr S Narayan, former Union Finance Secretary, discussed in detail the issues involved in sharing of resources such as river waters, taxes etc. R Vidyasagar Rao explained how the waters – including net flows and surpluses – of Krishna were already distributed by Bachawat and Brajesh Kumar Commissions and as such, how it made no difference to the projects in three regions whether the state remained united or divided.

And there is plenty of water in Godavari that was going waste. Prof Revathi suggested that certain revenues of Hyderabad could be shared with Seemandhra on a temporary basis, but others differed with that. D A Somayajulu (YSRCP) said finances and taxations were quite a complicated matter so options would have to be looked for within available options. Speaking on a different plane altogether, Amitabh Pande, IAS, the former Secretary of the Inter State Council of the GOI, cautioned that unless care was taken even the future state of Telangana could become a bastion of different lobbies and mafias. Aniket Alam, Prof Yadav, M R Venkatesh briefed the media and summed up the proceedings.

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