The birthing of Telangana, India’s 29th state, is an intriguing contradiction of sort, given that the ruling party at the centre, a political formation famous for its undying allegiance and feudalistic capitulation to a particular dynasty’s whims, batted for saving the federal structure of the nation-state. Despite the Andhra region erupting in protest, with even the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy opposing the decision, the Congress-led union cabinet’s paean to Indian federalism and endeavour to better state-level administration are indeed well-played and well-timed moves in the game of chess that is national politics. Evidently, the Congress reckons that the creation of Telangan would augur well for the 2014 general elections and it is with an eye on the polls that the UPA government went ahead with the splitting of the southern state. Moreover, the carving out of Telangana throws the regional players out of line, with each trying to work out fresh strategies to retain territorial and national relevance. For example, while the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress is bitterly opposing the move, citing staggering financial and job losses that would be accrued by the new state formation, and with the leader threatening to go on an indefinite fast, other key players who stood for a united Andhra, such as minister of culture and tourism Cheeranjeevi and HRD minister Pallam Raju among others, have either put in their papers in protest, or are expressing deep anguish and remonstration at the development. Clearly, the Seemandhra and Rayalaseema adjacent regions are on the boil, with indignant demonstrations and protest rallies becoming order of the day.
However, what needs to be reckoned at this point is whether Telangana is a feasible creation. Comprising 10 of Andhra Pradesh’s 23 districts – Hyderabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal – Telangana would not have a bad beginning when it sees the light of the day in about six months, given the IT hub of Hyderabad city will stay as the new state’s capital for the next 10 years, to be shared with Andhra Pradesh. But the icing on the cake would be for Congress and the UPA dispensation, which would now consider a chunk of Lok Sabha seats that would fall in Telangana’s share, guaranteed. Moreover, as the Congress and UPA regime suggests, the fact that ‘Cyberabad’ would be included in Telangana could mean that investments and infrastructure development would not suffer a serious setback, despite the obvious disarray that the region would be thrown into. However, at the end of the day it is all about the number games and how it pans out in the assembly and general elections. Despite the temporary interruption of normal life in the Seemandhra and Rayalaseema regions, a sharp contrast with the joyful celebrations in Telangana, Congress has the math in place. Even the state legislators from the Congress party who were opposed to the move have been coaxed not to quit in protest, while the resignation letters of union ministers have not yet been accepted by the PMO. Obviously, the Congress is relying on the 118 assembly seats that Telangana would obtain, stealing a lion’s share from the 294-strong Andhra total, although it is ironical that the division was okayed without an assembly resolution.