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Debate : Point & counterpoint

Debate : Point & counterpoint
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With Seemandhra people up in arms against the Congress decision to bifurcate the State, various issues that have never been discussed openly are...

With Seemandhra people up in arms against the Congress decision to bifurcate the State, various issues that have never been discussed openly are coming into sharp focus from the three regions. We have run a five-part series highlighting the Srikrishna Committee Report’s observations on key issues and asked our readers to respond.

The views and counterviews will be published in these columns. They can be either directly related to the subjects mentioned in the Report or on carving out a separate state. They articles should be written in English, not exceeding 800 words, and to the point. Please mention the complete address with phone number. Also attach a passport size photograph and mail to letters@thehansindia.in

Bifurcation for political gains

it is a reactionary maneuver aimed at shoring up the fortunes of the Congress-led central government and more generally, through the manipulation of regional, ethnic and caste identities
Almost 13 years ago, the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were divided to form Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh. The movements behind this political re-organization had claimed that these new smaller states would be closer to the people, respond more readily to their needs and distribute funds more equitably than the undivided state governments had been doing.
'Internal colonization' would finally end. Many of those who were passionately in favour of bifurcation claim that political reorganization has brought about precious few substantive changes in peoples' lives. While Uttarakhand has largely progressed reasonably well, Jharkhand has experienced chronic political instability and a growing Maoist insurgency.
Using Uttarakhand and Jharkhand as case studies, it has to be found whether the bifurcation of Indian states has actually led to demonstratively better developmental or governance outcomes. With Telangana currently struggling to split from Andhra Pradesh, and with as many as nine more bifurcation movements ramping up pressure for the division of other states, a close examination of the true benefits of bifurcation is timely and of practical value.
The timing of New Delhi's decision to divide the State appears to have been driven by politics rather than principle. The UPA-led Congress government has firmly decided to divide Andhra Pradesh into two states without considering the Srikrishna Committee recommendations. In this regard it is important to take note of the Commission’s remarks: “The united Andhra option is being suggested for continuing the development momentum of the three regions and keeping in mind the national perspective….this option would be in the best interest of all and would provide satisfaction to the maximum number of people in the state. (p456;21)”
The proponents of Telangana and the country’s political establishment are presenting the creation of a new state as a means of overcoming socio-economic backwardness. In reality, it is a reactionary maneuver aimed at shoring up the fortunes of the Congress-led central government and more generally, through the manipulation of regional, ethnic and caste identities. It is most unfortunate to separate the same language speaking people into two states on the basis of backwardness of the region and self governing aim.
As per the Srikrishna Report it is evident that “The Committee did not find any real evidence of any major neglect (of Telangana) by the state government in matters of overall economic development. (page 441;24)”. The government has been actively considering the creation of Telangana since 2009, when it first announced its intention to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. Then the government faced opposition from much of the economic and political elite in Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, as well as concerns within the Indian ruling class that the creation of a new state could destabilize India’s internal structure, the Congress backtracked and referred the issue to a government commission.
As observed by the Srikrishna Commission, “There are strong indications that if Telangana does become a separate state, a movement for separation is likely to follow in Rayalaseema, which remains the most backward region in the state. (p 413;19)” The Srikrishna Commission recommended against creating a separate Telangana state, saying that a “united Andhra” with special provisions to politically “empower” and develop Telangana was the best option from an economic and “national” perspective. If the separation is inevitable, the commission has proposed six options for the bifurcation.
As expected, the decision to create Telangana state has encouraged various regionally-based sections of the Indian elite to press forward with their own demands for the carving out of new states. Some of these demands are justified by their proponents on the basis of ethnicity, others as in the case of Telangana and the movement to make the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra a separate state, in the name of overcoming economic backwardness.
The Gorka Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has renewed its demand for a Gorkhaland based in the Darjeeling hill area of West Bengal. The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which is a partner in the Congress-led government of Assam, has announced plans to intensify the agitation for a separate Bodoland.
The Congress decision to press ahead with the creation of Telangana, ignoring the recommendation of its own commission and widespread apprehension within the corporate media about its politically destabilizing ramifications, is being driven by short-term political calculations amidst a deepening economic and political crisis. Within this context, the decision to create Telangana is a high-risk attempt to boost the Congress’ fortunes prior to next year’s national election.
The Congress calculates the decision will solidify its support in Telangana and the BJP, as it has long-supported the Telangana demand, will be unable to exploit the opposition within the elite in Andhra’s two other regions.
The division, obviously, disturbs the economic, political, social, employment and academic opportunities in the State and its future will be at stake. No doubt, the UPA government has come under fire from many quarters for the hasty decision it took on Telangana, allegedly with an eye on the polls due in 2014.
The measures taken by the government or silence observed by the UPA government are not going to reduce the tensions and address the doubts exoressd by Seemandhras. It is high time to reduce the tensions and satisfy the emotions and aspirations of agitating people by taking a viable solution. The Central government should go for plebiscite in the State or take up the procedure incorporated in Article 3 of Indian Constitution by amending the Article 371 D.
(The writer is Professor, PG Department of Public Administration, Dr Csr Pg Centre, Sri Yn College, Narasapur)
More options for division of State
Let them name Andhra Pradesh as Telangana. And for a period of ten years, let the entire political power -- all ministerial and state-level statutory positions -- be exclusively held by the Telangana leaders
Unless a miracle happens, truncation of the State appears certain. It is a different matter that the decision is hasty and muddle-headed and the agitation that pushed it has been, unfortunately, more on negative and self-contradictory lines that forced a psychological divide. The one-sided decision has sparked off a massive and spontaneous agitation in Seemandhra. The bone of contention is Hyderabad and its surroundings (HMDA) where Seemandhra people have flocked for three generations by virtue of its being the capital.
Consequently, a large number of state-and-national-level organisations as well as educational institutions, industries, businesses and MNCs have come to be located in Hyderabad after 1956, for the benefit of all the people of the State.
Hence the sentiments of Seemandhras also need to be dispassionately considered along with those of Telangana people. Both Seemandhra and Telangana people agree that the entire focus of development has all along been in HMDA, and that it has led to the neglect of Seemandhra districts and the rest of Telangana.
The Telangana leaders counter the Seemandhra claim to Hyderabad: “Why don’t we have then a claim on Visakhapatnam and Tirupati?” Well, why only those two cities, they can, in fact, claim all the cities and towns in those two regions and have everything under their control. Let them name Andhra Pradesh as Telangana. And for a period of ten years, let the entire political power -- all ministerial and state-level statutory positions -- be exclusively held by the Telangana leaders.
Even the political parties also can be broad-minded to have their presidents and general secretaries from the Telangana areas only. I am sure that the Telangana leaders, with their inherent goodness, can rise to the occasion at a much wider level and do equitable justice to the entire State. The Seemandhras who demand an integrated State assert that they are prepared for any sacrifice unto this. They should be true to their word and come forward to show it in practice if they are genuinely keen on saving the State. This would be in the spirit of adopting a give-and-take approach.
If this option is not acceptable, there are others like the following:
Option 2: Let AP be divided into four states – Andhra (9 coastal districts plus Bhadrachalam), Rayalaseema (4 districts), Telangana (with Warangal as capital), and Golconda (HMDA-UT) so that there can be uniform development throughout these areas. And these new states have to be careful not to concentrate on the development of any particular city.
Option 3: Trifurcate AP into: Andhra (9 coastal districts), Rayalaseema (4 districts), and Telangana (with Bhadrachalam going back to the pre-1960 position). The HMDA will be turned into a UT with partial statehood status until the capitals in Andhra and Rayalaseema are optimally developed by apportioning the post-1956 Hyderabad development among all the regions concerned on a pro rata basis. Once the development is equalised, HMDA will be a full-fledged part of Telangana. This arrangement will also protect the distinctive cultural identities and would avoid any future problems that could otherwise surface from time to time. If none of the above options is agreeable, the fourth and final option could be to put the Telangana decision in cold storage and carry on the dialogue objectively and dispassionately under moderation by a panel of non-AP retired judges of Supreme Court, until a mutually satisfactory solution evolves.
(The writer is a Hyderabad-based freelance journalist)
Boycott elections
If the Congress High Command and others sitting in New Delhi are watching the ongoing show in Andhra Pradesh on its division and are not hearing the voice of millions of agitators in Seemandhra for keeping the State united, then Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra people have to boycott the general elections next year. It can be done in more than one way.
For example, (1) The people should not use their power of voting; (2) The people should see that no party person/independent file a nomination; (3) If any one files nomination, the agitators have to make him/her to withdraw it wishing for unification; (4) No one should accept the election duty, including government officials; (5) The RTC as well as private operators should not give their buses for election work, even at the cost of losing their licences; (6) All the voters should stay home to maintain peace and harmony.
If every voter observes ‘poll boycott’ Rayalaseema and Andhra will not have their representatives -- MLAs or MPs or MLCs – in Parliament and State Assembly and the areas will be called “No-representation regions.” Can it be done and is it possible? Food for thought for all those who are agitating against bifurcation.
(The writers P T Sarma and OVN Gupta are former correspondents of Indian
Express and The Hindu, respectively, based in Madanapalle, Chittor District)
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