Stuck in no man’s land & crying in wilderness
Being unrepresented for so long and amid ambiguity over their future – with little over a year to go for the Assembly polls and delimitation seemingly a far cry – nearly two-and-a-half-lakh people, predominantly tribes, continue to live in limbo. Thanks to the constitutional barrier that is playing havoc with the hapless tribals.
Bhadrachalam: Being unrepresented for so long and amid ambiguity over their future – with little over a year to go for the Assembly polls and delimitation seemingly a far cry – nearly two-and-a-half-lakh people, predominantly tribes, continue to live in limbo. Thanks to the constitutional barrier that is playing havoc with the hapless tribals.
With the freeze on delimitation imposed by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 is binding till 2026; it seems that Centre is not keen to open the Pandora’s Box by taking up delimitation just for the sake of three Assembly and one Parliament seats, all reserved for tribes, affected by the merger of seven
mandals of erstwhile Khammam district with Andhra Pradesh. The Centre then played it safe by conducting 2014 general elections together in combined Andhra Pradesh despite the passage of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
A few days before the ‘Appointed Day’, the Centre effected a change by transferring seven mandals – Bhadrachalam (except Bhadrachalam revenue village), Kunavaram, VR Puram, Chintoor, Burgampadu, Velairpadu and Kukunoor - to AP through an Ordinance.
However, the administration of nearly 205 habitations spread across Bhadrachalam, Pinapaka and Aswaraopeta constituencies had been shifted to East and West Godavari districts based on their proximity, people living in these villages are left with no one to voice their concerns in the AP Assembly.
Bhadrachalam constituency was the most affected with Bhadrachalam (minus temple town), Kunavaram, VR Puram and Chintoor mandals going to East Godavari. Although Sunnam Rajaiah, Bhadrachalam MLA, made a fervent appeal to the Governor and the Chief Electoral Officer to allow him to AP Assembly to voice the grievances of the people of these mandals who are part of Andhra now.
“I even moved the High Court on this issue and the petition was referred to the Supreme Court which in directed the High Court to take up the case. The case is still pending at the High Court,” Bhadrachalam MLA Sunnam Rajaiah told The Hans India. Incidentally, his native village Sunnavarigudem under VR Puram is now part of East Godavari.
The MLA said that he is in a piquant situation as almost half of his constituency is in AP and he could not help them by taking their issues to the notice of the government. “It’s high time for the Centre to take a decision to address the problems of these mandals,” he said.
Aswaraopeta constituency has lost Kukunoor and Velairpadu mandals together which have a population of little over 51,000. MLA Thati Venkateswarlu said: “It’s up to Central government and Election Commission to take a quick decision to end the uncertainty.”
However, the other constituency Pinapaka has lost only a few panchayats, it’s to be noted here that the segment comes under the Mahabubabad Lok Sabha seat. With delimitation is not likely to take place in near future, it’s certain that transferred villages will be merged with Rampachodavaram and Polavaram constituencies. However, the Centre is yet to clear the air on the issue.