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'Gifted' legislators!

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Though not much of business was transacted, the recent Assembly session ended on a very pleasant note. All legislators were presented with very...

Though not much of business was transacted, the recent Assembly session ended on a very pleasant note. All legislators were presented with very valuable gifts worth around Rs 50,000. There is nothing very unusual about it as such a thing has been happening elsewhere also though in a different way. Their families must have been very pleased. There are several precedents for the Chief Minister's generosity. What is surprising about this gesture is that none has declined to take it terming it as unethical and amounting to nothing short of one type of 'quid pro quo'.

Maybe a few like Dr Jayaprakash refused but it is not reported and I seek their indulgence for my indiscretion in treating them all alike. Some time ago, in one of the Northern States, MLAs were presented with VIP briefcases and such other costly gifts on the eve of the presentation of the State budget. After that, it was all smooth sailing for the ruling party and very little time was wasted on discussion. Five-course lunches from posh restaurants were served to all the 425 MLAs on all the 20 days of the budget session. This was found to be a novel but effective way of ensuring their presence in the House. Almost all the budgets of the ministries were passed without any major fiasco and MLAs who were usually offensive in the House cheered the Ministers for presenting 'bold and innovative budgets'!

In our State at that time, it was much more delectable. While the discussion was on the deteriorating quality of Tirupathi laddus, the members were treated to that very same sweet delicacy. Immensely pleased with the thoughtfulness of the endowments ministry, one member enquired in all earnestness, "when are we taking up the proposals of the excise ministry for discussion?"

The message went home, all right, but the minister concerned, who was himself not averse to the very intoxicating suggestion, could not act upon it for fear of incurring the wrath of his teetotaler chief minister who was none other than NTR. It all depends upon how you look at it. To some it might appear as bribe and to some others it might be just a 'gift' and nothing else.

While on the subject of gifts, one is reminded of an incident in the Constituent Assembly a few months before Independence when leaders of impeccable honesty and unimpeachable character were still at the helm of affairs. One day, by the time Rajaji, who was in-charge as minister, came to the Assembly there were placed at every seat a box of pencils presented with best compliments of a company of Madras, Hoe & Co. On seeing them, CR was furious and ordered them to be removed at once, saying it was as immoral on the part of the members to accept such gifts, however small and innocuous, as it was unethical on the part of those who offer them.

One or three! It was pointed out in this column a few weeks ago that the formation of Telangana was round the corner and that Seemandhra people would do well to read the writing on the wall and reconcile themselves to the inevitable outcome and plan for developing their own State which has been badly neglected. Now, the latest reports from various quarters clearly indicate that it is a matter of just a few days when some decision will come out. What is very disturbing in these reports is the likelihood of dividing the State into two, Rayala Telangana and Andhra.

This is quite an unexpected development as it was outright rejected by Rayalaseema people when the proposal was mooted by MIM party taking into account its own calculations. One or two Rayalaseema leaders also supported it but kept quiet later and never mentioned it again. Now, as a bolt from the blue this proposal has come. If accepted, the solution will prove to be worse than the problem.

The time has now come for the people of Andhra region to come out clearly and assert that if it is not one State, let it be three but not two. Rayalaseema people have their own identity and their own preferences. Instead of clubbing two of its districts with Telangana and the rest with Andhra region, it is better that right now three States are formed. Otherwise, it will lead to problems similar to those we are now facing with Telangana.

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