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Skewed math of Telangana

Political expediency by the Congress leaders finally won over reasoning in deciding to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and creating the new state of Telengana. The question posed in political circles is: Will Andhra’s loss be Congress Party’s gain?  Many in the ruling party say that dividing a prosperous state like Andhra Pradesh was a grave mistake. The creation of smaller states in the past has not shown the desired results and they were plunged in instability. Take the case of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh or recently carved out Uttarakhand, there are apprehensions that the 29th state may meet the same fate.

Also the theory that smaller states are better administered, has become outdated. In the days of information technology and e-governance, it is easy to govern bigger states with their vast resources.  Large states can mobilize more resources, as Andhra Pradesh demonstrated, by being the most successful among the Indian states in tackling Maoism.   

The best course, possibly, would have been to set up a second States’ Reorganization Commission to take into account the aspirations of the people, demanding bifurcation of their respective states and recommend steps to achieve that objective without political expediency being the guiding factor.  

By carving out Andhra Pradesh, the Congress may gain  a few more seats in next year’s Lok Sabha election but the damage it has done to the prosperous southern state will take many years to repair. The decision raises serious economic and political challenges.
On the economic front the division may change the fortunes of 85 million people. One of the fastest growing states in India, Andhra Pradesh has successfully brought down poverty level to 9.2 per cent, which is less than half the national average. Andhra has also emerged as one of the leading states in information technology, pharmaceuticals, health service and infrastructure. It is of vital importance to ensure that a break up would  spur and not whittle down these achievements.    

The most important political fallout of creation of Telengana will be in other states where regional aspirations have laid claim for statehood in Gorkhaland, Bodoland, Vidarbha, Harit Pradesh (comprising western Uttar Pradesh) and so on. There can also be backlash from proponents of a united Andhra Pradesh, unleashing turmoil. Claims regarding exclusive status of Hyderabad will remain a flash point for many years.

Andhra Pradesh returned 33 members of Parliament in 2009 Lok Sabha elections for the Congress, a figure that now appears a distant dream in 2014 elections for the reason  that a strong support for the nascent YSR Congress Party, formed by the son of former chief minister and strongman Y S Rajashekhar Reddy may not be forthcoming.

With 17 of 42 Lok Sabha  seats and 117 assembly seats from Telangana region at stake, the Congress hopes to cut its losses and anticipates reversal in other two regions— Seemaandhra (coastal Andhra) and Rayalaseema – where YSR Congress is expected to bag a majority of seats. Equally important consideration for the Congress was to deny the BJP an opportunity to steal the thunder. The BJP may lose if Telengana euphoria and gratitude to the Congress overwhelm its consistent support for the new state. BJP anyway is not a major player in coastal areas,

Though the BJP turned down the demand for a separate Telangana when Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was at the centre, subsequently it has been vociferous in supporting the demand. The leaders from coastal Andhra have been vehemently opposing the new state.
There is strong possibility of the Congress-TRS merger and this was confirmed by AICC general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, Digvijay Singh. ‘The TRS chief, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, is on record about it…. having said that they would merge with the congress party after the formation of the new state is declared’, he said. Rao has now reportedly said he was a man of words.

Political circles estimate that the Congress calculation is to sweep the Telangana region which has 17 Lok Sabha seats in alliance with TRS.
The number of Lok Sabha seats which the party can hope to win will swell to 21 if the districts of Ananthpur and Kurnool are clubbed with Telangana; a huge improvement for the party which appeared headed for a washout in the state.
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