KCR sparks needless row

KCR sparks needless row

KCR sparks needless row, The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, with his fine drives across the ground has earned the admiration of...

The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, with his fine drives across the ground has earned the admiration of many. Unraveling the long-term vision for the new state of Telangana, he has even caught the opposition leg before the wicket. Confused by his googlies, even the opposition has not yet launched a tirade against the government. This is quite contrary to the situation prevailing in the new Andhra Pradesh state. But, his bouncers on the fee reimbursement scheme seem to have caught him on the wrong foot. This controversial position taken by KCR government on this sensitive subject has once again ignited the pre - bifurcation wounds inflicted on the Telugu people. This stand obviously infuriated the people who have come to Telangana and settled here at different points of time in the history.

The KCR government takes a strident position by declaring that 1956 will be the cut-off period for the eligibility to the fee reimbursement scheme. It means the children belonging to the families who have come to Telangana before 1956 will only be eligible for the fee reimbursement scheme. This would even make the life of even Telangana children miserable as it is difficult to prove that their forefathers were also residing in Telangana. It is extremely a difficult job to get the government records concerned and is prone to manipulation. This would only increase the corruption which KCR vowed to eradicate. The families of the possible beneficiaries of this scheme are generally engaged in unorganized and informal sectors, making the job much more difficult. Therefore the 1956 basis is neither practical nor feasible.

The Nizam Fermana of 1919 popularly called the Mulki rules defined anyone who has been residing In Telangana for a period of 15 years as local. Of course, the Mulki rules are not in existence now. But, the spirit of Mulki inspired the movement for separate state of Telangana. The new emotional definition for nativity, stipulating a period of almost six decades negates even the Mulki spirit.

According to the Indian constitution, citizenship is not based on a state. The citizenship is a national identity. Barring few restrictions, the Constitution of India allows any Indian to settle anywhere in India. This obviously follows that every such citizen is entitled for all constitutional and legal entitlements unless and until any other constitutional provisions prevail upon. The Article 371 D is the relevant constitutional provision. This provision and the consequential presidential orders define local and non-local status. Even the Telangana government follows the same provisions for deciding the admissions. How can admissions and fee reimbursement benefits be applied on two different criteria? The government may argue that it has the freedom to lay down criteria for extending the welfare benefits.

It is true that unless such a benefit is a legal entitlement, the state government has a right to decide or even amend the criteria for eligibility to welfare schemes. But, at the same time any such criteria should be non-discriminatory in nature. Such kind of issues cannot be decided by governments based on emotional considerations. They should be decided on the basis of true spirit of the Constitution.

In fact, the Telangana movement has always held a view that they are against anyone one who have come to Telangana to eke out a livelihood. The movement was articulating its opposition to the perceived exploitation by the Andhra capital and the political class that patronises this lobby. In fact even KCR has publicly taken a position that anyone who is born in Telangana will be a Telanganite. In fact, this statement has incurred the wrath of even the activists of separate state movement. But, now the government takes a completely different view.

The Governor’s address to both the Houses of Telangana legislature has clearly assured that all those who are living in Telangana would be allowed to live with equal rights and dignity irrespective of the region they have come from. The Telangana political leadership has also given this commitment when the Andhra political leaders were voicing the demand for union territory status to Hyderabad. The parochial definition of the criteria for the fee reimbursement scheme would only strengthen the arguments of those who demanded the union territory status for Hyderabad. The Telangana government by its actions cannot give credence to such a demand.

Surprisingly, the Andhra political leadership’s emotional response to this controversy has only added more strength to position taken by K Chandrasekhar Rao’s government. Instead, the Telangana political leadership should respond in a more matured manner. Otherwise, the progressive image of the new state of Telangana would be at stake.

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