Congress’ Hobson’s choice:Telangana
No matter what the ultimate decision on Telangana turns out to be, it is bound to scald Andhra in a manner unprecedented since the agitations of the 1969 Jai Telangana movement and the 1972 Andhra demonstrations. In fact, the Congress, which had been fence-sitting over the sensitive issue and had been dillydallying taking a firm stand, will now be in a big fix, since the agendum is one of the burning issues that are staring the ruling party in the face. However, the problem that lies in carving out a separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh is not a simple acquiescence to the demands of the separatists, which anyway has a long and tumultuous history of unrest, but the fact that those opposing the move, but Telegu people for whom the idea of a divided Andhra is absolute anathema, will not leave a single stone unturned to derail the train of a separate state for the agitators. Although Congress has adopted a strategy of drowning out the vociferous debate in a sea of legal quibbles, with the submission of the report by Digvijaya Singh, the AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, the matter has taken a pressing and urgent dimension. The Congress top brass, is nevertheless, still undecided on the issue, looking as it is towards conquering the state by pandering to the demands of every party. In such a scenario, Congress’ pre-election strategising might not yield enough dividends, leaving the region in a state of lurch, with the pro-Telangana agitators and those opposing the move at loggerheads without a resolution.
The Congress-led UPA-II has been doing flip-flops over the issue since December 2009, with P Chidambaram, then home minister, going back on his words of promising a separate state, in order to avert an intense and bloody backlash. Yet, the question of Telangana needs to be looked at in the context of the history of secession of other regions from their parent states, such as Jharkhand from Bihar, Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh. While it is true that post secession, their track record hasn’t been abysmal, the idea of partitioning a united state is bound to inflame passions on both sides of the border. The Telangana region, it needs to be noted, has been neglected by scores of state governments in Andhra, even though it is one of the most water and resource-rich zones within not just south India, but in fact, the whole country. Despite the Sri Krishna Commission’s report, which had charted out schemes for planned irrigation and water sharing, granting a separate Telengana will have enormous consequences on the future of Hyderabad, now synonymous, along with Bangalore, with IT revolution, undeterred growth and development, and the idea of India as an emerging super power. Yet, the fact that Telangana, despite with blessed with plenty of natural water bodies, had to suffer from systematic deprivation leading on to agricultural crisis and conditions that set back the region by several notches. Political one-upmanship between Congress and the YSR Congress floated by Jagan Reddy, the rebel son of late Andhra CM Rajashekhara Reddy, is not helping matters either. Congress, however, needs to reach a consensus amicably and without pushing the state into the arms of a violent civil war.