Last ball yet to be played: Kiran
Last Ball Yet To Be Played Says Kiran Kumar Reddy. Kiran feels that “no match is over till the last ball is bowled," and that it was difficult to go ahead with the process of bifurcation unless the people’s concerns were addressed. No Match Over Till Last Ball, Telangana Issue.
- People are greater than party, tells Rajya Sabha TV
- Concerns of Seemandhra need to be answered first
- There are many contentious issues to be solved
- You cannot bifurcate a state and then offer a solution
- Denies he is on warpath, says he is only doing his duty
- Immediate concern is to address APNGOs strike
- Party must be sensitive to the aspirations of people
Hyderabad: Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy feels that “no match is over till the last ball is bowled," and that it was difficult to go ahead with the process of bifurcation unless the people’s concerns were addressed. Kiran in an interview to the Rajya Sabha TV on Thursday noted that the Congress party needed to be "more sensitive" to what the people wanted.
He said there were many contentious issues like the issue of Hyderabad where the future of the people who had come here from different places since 1956 lies. People belonging to all sections-- businessmen, doctors, advocates, employees all had shifted from Madras and Kurnool as they felt that this was their capital and their future lies here.
Kiran said there were many issues like sharing of river waters and electricity power. Similarly, education was Hyderabad centric, so also health. Again the state faced peculiar recruitment process.
“There is article 371 (d) which is supposed to take care of the backward regions. All such issues need a solution. You cannot bifurcate the state and then offer a solution. It has to come before the process moves forward,” Kiran said. "A decision has been taken by the party (to divide Andhra Pradesh). There is a constitutional process to be followed. In this process a lot of agitations have come in. So they have to consider all these before going ahead," he said.
He also noted that the state was more important than any political calculations. "Concerns of people are more important. They are bigger than the party or its views. Party functions as per the will of the people. It is our duty to answer the people," Kiran pointed out.
Asked whether he was on a "warpath" with the party, the Chief Minister shot back: "It’s not a question of warpath. I have to answer the concerns of the people here. When lakhs of people have got certain concerns, it is all the more my responsibility as Chief Minister of the state to satisfy them, talk to them and convince them as to what is good for the state, what is good for them... people of AP, of both regions."
Asked if the Congress leaders (of Seemaandhra) were worried about the political fallout as elections were round the corner, Kiran said he did not think that any Congress leader was thinking of his own future or next elections. “They want the state united. That is what the Seemaandhra leaders are looking for,” he added.
Immediate concern, the Chief Minister said, was to address the ongoing agitation and try to convince them. “People of the state have shown a lot of affection towards the Congress party. We have to be more sensitive to what they want," the Chief Minister noted.
People first, party next
The full text of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s interview to Rajya Sabha TV
Sir, Now that the government has rejected the contention that the Telangana process would be put on hold, are you hoping against hope to save Andhra Pradesh.
Regarding state of Andhra Pradesh, the decision taken by the CWC, there is a constitutional process that has to be followed. And without addressing the concerns of the people of both the regions – both of Seemandhra and Telangana– it is difficult to through the division process. We have got lot of problems which come with the decision and these concerns should be addressed before going forward.
You mean to say that was it hasty decision and they should have taken more time?
It is not a question of hasty decision although the decision was a section of the area i.e. Telangana people were asking for a separate State for a very long time. The contentious issues that come with the division are the major problems. That is the issue of capital Hyderabad, people have come here from different places from 1956 and from that time they felt that this is their capital and this is where their future lies. Then a lot of people shifted from Madras, which was our capital then, came to Kurnool and from Kurnool came here. They include doctors, professional advocates it is for other businesses.
All sections of people were here. What are you hoping from Antony Committee which is just about to come to hear the concerns of Seemandhra region? Do you feel they could have done this earlier?
We have already Srikrishna Committee report there. The problems of the farmers and irrigation problems are very severe. We already have problems with different states i.e., Karnataka, Maharashtra one side and Orissa on the other side. We cannot have another irrigation problem for the farmers by dividing the State.
The irrigation experts say that according to riparian rules if they set up a control board….
All control boards failed miserably. It could be Cauvery Accord or Punjab-Haryana Accord, all irrigation accords have not done well in the country and it is not proper to come forward with a solution and satisfy the farmers of how their interests would be protected. So it is very difficult. The problem is not one-sided. We are going to have the problem of education of youngsters because it is Hyderabad-centric, and there are all medical facilities which are Hyderabad-centric, employees problem, because we have got Presidential order and we got a peculiar recruitment process and that process is for taking all the backward districts and backward areas into consideration - 371 (d) - and lot of problems will come if it is divided. So, all these concerns should first be addressed before thinking of a solution. First you should show solutions for these problems and then think of how to go ahead.
Regarding water sharing, we have also been speaking to the irrigation experts, correct me if I am wrong, the Bachawat Tribunal has already allocated amount of water which has to go to which district. The problem is political as far as release of water is concerned.
Not only release of water. You encounter problems because you are the last riparian state. We have got lot of flood water we have converted into irrigation projects although our allocation is less. And due to different reasons, specifically due to Almatti and other problems on Krishna River we are having a problem in Krishna basin. For our utilisation we get both assured water and flood water. If it is a good year like this year, there is no problem. If it is a bad year, we are going to have a severe problem between the farmers of different districts. So allocation of water is a different thing and distribution of water is totally a different thing. And these projects both have got electricity generation and irrigation together. So if you use it more for irrigation if there are two different states, and there is no place in this country where the river is going to be divided and split into half in two different states. The project is going to be split into half in two states. These are the severe problems which we have to address before we go for division.
There are semi-finished projects in the State. What happens to them if the bifurcation becomes a reality?
See. Completing the projects is one of the biggest challenges. The first SRC or the Fazal Ali Commission said that the State should be united because maximum utilisation of the Krishna and Godavari can be done if the two rivers come under one territory. This is one of the recommendations. Of course there are other recommendations that it should be divided. But if these two regions did not come under one State not a single project would come up in this state.
Talking about power, Telangana leaders are going around saying that if power is a problem, we will purchase power. Is it really possible keeping in view the ground realities?
It is a very major subject. It is not the question of power now. The power consumption in Telangana area is fifty per cent more than what is generated. That is not the end of the problem. The real problem starts when all the lift irrigation schemes would come up in the next four, five years. In Telangana, water is much below the ground level, only lift irrigation is only possible. And we require 175 million units of power every day for four to five months to lift this water.
So we have to wait and see how much power they are going to purchase for Telangana.
There is already fifty per cent short and we do not have corridors to purchase power. It is a major concern of the people. So all these issues should be addressed before we address the issue of Hyderabad, issue of river water sharing, education, employment and we have the peculiar policy of recruitment. And there will be lakhs of people who are going to be displaced from both areas because the state is divided. These problems have to be addressed before we are going ahead.
There are a large number of problems. But there is a perception outside that entire fight is not about Andhra but those who are residing in Hyderabad because there is lot of investments are here and lot of leaders have invested here. How do you substantiate it?
It is not so. It is a public cause. Leaders and individuals do not matter. See the sentiment attached to Hyderabad. For example, I was born in Hyderabad and have studied in Hyderabad and grown up in Hyderabad. After 53 years, you say that you do not belong here. This is the feeling of lakhs of people and 80 per cent of people who stay here were born after the division of the State. You just cannot say Hyderabad is yours. Hyderabad belongs to whole of Andhra Pradesh for a very long time. And for the last four hundred years, there are instances and the history would say that it had never been under one ruler, under one kingdom and one area.
You are talking about sentimental cause which is on both sides of the cause - pro-Telangana and anti-Telangana. But about Samaikyandhra sentiment, people generally call it, it is a hogwash and artificial, lazily prepared and supported by political leaders. How far is that true?
You cannot expect lakhs of people to come onto the roads everyday for the last fifty days or so. Lakhs of people, three to four lakhs of people are participating in the agitation every day. There are about six and half lakh government employees who are on strike in this area who are not taking their salaries also. They are depending on their salary and the whole family is depending on the salary. So they are not taking their salaries for the last forty days or so.
Because of the sentiment attached?
It is not the mere sentiment. One is the sentiment and that is the future loss. They see if the state is divided, the problems they are going to face.
Their fear should be removed if you want to go ahead. You cannot have lakhs of the people on the road and lakhs of employees on strike and about 12,000 RTC buses are not plying on the roads because RTC employees are on strike.
Buses are not running, lakhs of employees are not drawing salaries, schools are not running, students and teachers are protesting together. But the questions arise why the chief minister is not intervening to stop the agitation.
I am the chief minister of Samaikyandhra. I have to address the concerns of all people in the State.
Digvijay Singh has stated that you are already behaving like the chief minister of Seemandhra region?
Not Seemandhra. I don’t think Mr Digvijay Singh has spoken that way. I do not want to comment on what I read in the newspaper. But I am the chief minister of Samaikyandhra which means three regions. Yes. I am concerned about the employees strike. I am concerned about the schools not running. I am concerned about the farmers. But there is a continuous dialogue between the government employees and the ministers. We have formed a cabinet sub-committee that was talking to them and trying to persuade them to come back because their feelings have been heard and we are aware of it. We are also talking to the central leadership, central government and our party and asking the employees to come back.
But what about the losses incurred in this time. The government has almost come to standstill.
We have to take it as it is. There was strike in Telangana area also and now it is in the other area. We have to take the losses as it is because it is people’s movement.
As a chief minister you are on the tightrope walk and balancing the sentiments of both the regions and it is a crucial question. How you are actually doing this? Are you talking to the Telangana leaders at this point of time?
Yes. They are coming to me. As far as Telangana leaders are concerned they are part of my government and they are part of the legislature and we are working together. They understand the problem because they faced the problem earlier. The sentiments of both areas have to be put in mind before some decision is taken. We cannot have a unilateral, one-sided decision when there are contentious issues which are bothering people of the state.
The issue of common capital of Hyderabad is a serious issue. All the investments are concentrated.
Debate is required about Hyderabad and how it has to be. We have to see the constitutional provisions and there is nothing like joint capital. There are difficulties to have a joint capital. If it is UT, what type of UT and all these things are under consideration and it is not proper for us to discuss these issues unless the Centre comes up with concrete proposal.
The Centre said that the Telangana process is in the pipeline and it is going to happen in some point of time. How you are really thinking. You must be having a plan. Hyderabad is a developed metropolitan area. Forty per cent of the revenue comes from there due to the concentration of software, service sector and manufacture sector. Is there any plan how to migrate the industries to Andhra area?
It is premature. We are not thinking of all that. First we have to address what is present issue on our hand. An amicable solution should be worked out. Then only we think of revenue side.
You have some hope that Antony Committee which is going come to the State to address the concerns of people?
See. The decision is taken by the party. There is a constitutional process which has to be followed. In this constitutional process, lots of agitations have come in. We have to consider all these processes before going ahead. And there is lot of serious resistance from the people of Seemandhra also and from political leaders also. I think the high command will take all these into consideration before taking a decision. Elections and all these would be talked of when they come. The present thinking is a big agitation is going on. How do we address them? How do we smooth them? How do we try to convince them about going ahead?
You said that the concerns were not addressed properly and the party has taken the decision. Are you actually on war path with the party?
It is not a question of war path. I have to answer the concerns of the people here when lakhs of people express their concern. And it is all the more my responsibility as chief minister of the State to satisfy them, to talk to them and to convince them. And what is good for the state and what is good for the people of both the regions, I have to talk to them. We cannot have solutions. We cannot think that we have solutions that create bigger problems rather than solving the existing problems.
Some of the MLAs and MPs are planning to put in their papers if the Cabinet Note is moved. And there is some movement in Telangana. Do you think that it is a solution?
It is not proper for me to comment about resignations and other things. But they are very concerned about the state and see to it that the state is united. It is the pressure from the people of the region that the state should be united.
It is unbelievable that the leaders are not thinking of political calculations for the coming elections.
State is more important than any political calculations and the concerns of the people are more important. Party functions as per the will of the people. So we have to answer to the people.
Given the momentum and the fact that other parties are going active and thinking that Telangana is going to be formed. What will be the options?
Each party has its own views and thinking. But here the issue is much bigger than the party. We have to answer to the concerns of the people first. That is how the party comes to power or not. We have to power because of the support of the people. So if we do not answer to the concerns of the people it is our duty to answer to the people. It is also our duty their concerns are met and addressed.
Very important thing is that Andhra Pradesh has 42 Lok Sabha seats. And now with complete political washout in Andhra region, the bargaining power of AP leaders has actually come down. What is your political assessment?
Both the times the UPA government has come to power with the major support they got from the people Andhra Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh has always been with the Congress party. Even during Mrs Gandhi’s time, and after Emergency, it was the only seat which has given 41 seats out of 42 seats to Congress. Indira Gandhi came to power with 41 seats from AP and when she died she was an MP from Andhra Pradesh. So there is lot of concern and lot of liking towards Gandhi family in Andhra Pradesh. Hence, it has all the more responsibility and the Congress must be more sensitive towards to the people’s will and wishes in Andhra Pradesh because their liking towards Gandhi family.
Your views of Samaikyandhra…
I am the chief minister of Samaikyandhra. Samaikya means united.
But there are a lot of people of Telangana making allegations of exploitation, discrimination. At this point time, how you are going assuage their feelings?
I don’t think this is the time to think about all these things. This is a time when one particular decision was taken. How do you address that decision and how do you overcome that decision. Whether you have to go ahead, if you have to go ahead how do you go ahead. If you can’t go ahead what do we do? How do you address the people of all regions and how is the going to go ahead? This is what the concern of the government and should be the concern of the party. Unless we address all these things it is very difficult to go ahead.
Kiran Kumar Reddy is a cricketer at heart. Are you going to play a straight bat or reverse shot?
No match is over till the last ball is bowled.