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Jagan’s grievances should be heard

The political row over the creation of Telangana, the 29th Indian state, has its basis in legitimate issues, which must be addressed by the Congress-led UPA dispensation. With the YSR Congress party head Jaganmohan Reddy going on an indefinite fast to lodge his severe dissatisfaction over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and the southern region having turned into a simmering cauldron of turf wars with mass protests in Seemandhra and Rayalaseema districts and strikes by government employees, it is imperative to redress the justified concerns of the leaders and affected people of the state. Given that the decision to split Andhra Pradesh doesn’t have foolproof constitutional basis yet and its rough edges need to be ironed out still, especially because the bifurcation was imposed without a resolution in the state Assembly, deeming it arbitrary and purely with an eye on the 2014 general elections will not be off the mark. However, the Centre’s citing of the decades-long agitation by the supporters of the Telangana cause also cannot be dismissed in its entirety, particularly since large sections of people had their political and ideological hopes pinned on the territorial separation. But there are a number of issues raised by the likes of Jagan Reddy and others, including union ministers Pallam Raju and Chiranjeevi, which merit comprehensive understanding and mitigation thereof. These include status of Hyderabad as the joint capital, the water détente and sharing of Krishna and Godavari shivers, trade and commerce between the two states, given they had enjoyed unrestricted territorial access hitherto, as well as the large-scale displacements that will result from chunks of population moving from their homeland and settling in the more politically-acceptable State. Clearly, dislocation, job loss and uprooting of family lives will be as much a worry as the new sources of revenue generation and distribution, funds distribution from the Centre and State administrations along with the sharing the spoils of Cyberabad, the IT hub in Hyderabad. 

While the Centre has assured the settlers from Seemandhra that their concerns would be taken care of, a more nuanced approach is needed to palliate the flared nerves of the opponents of the division. Both the Telegu Desam Party and YSR Congress are bitterly opposed to the bifurcation, though it remains to be seen if their indignation would have any consequences for the 2014 electoral math. Moreover, how are the governments, both at the central and state levels, planning to work out the issues surrounding Godavari river waters and the coastal industries that are heavily dependent on the river for navigation and allied purposes? Reports suggest that several dam and irrigation projects would now be divided between the two states, and the matter is certain to become the eye of an impending storm over apportionment of resources and revenues for/from these schemes. Furthermore, livelihoods of an enormous population of tribal people as well as farmers, who depend on the sea and the rivers for their bread and butter, are at stake here, given Telangana, once created, would have to sacrifice some of its agricultural land to industrial development, a potential cause of more unrest in the region. Necessarily, the bandhs and protests in AP point towards these seemingly endless problems, which the Centre prefers to push under the carpet at this juncture.   

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