Millennium Post

Telangana and after

Now that the Telangana bill is awaiting President’s nod, what would be its political and electoral repercussions in Andhra Pradesh? Will the Congress calculations go awry if the TRS does not play along? Will the TRS opt for only poll alliance? These are some of the questions that are being asked in the political circles.

No doubt the Parliament has passed the Telangana bill but the issue will continue to haunt the Congress and other parties in the state in the coming months until the dust settles. The Centre has many challenges in dealing with it as several things including the quantum of special status to the Seemandhra region remains to be settled. This is going to be one of the major challenges as the time is short and the passions are high and elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assembly are looming large.

The Planning Commission and the Centre will have to find the right kind of financial package for the mother state (Seemandhra), help the state in reconciling to the new status and the NDC has to be brought on board on the special status. The biggest problem is how to fill the revenue loss suffered by the Seemandhra region, which is estimated between Rs 9,000 to 15,000 crores.

Although it was thought that the gap could be filled by revenue sharing from Hyderabad between the two states, this was given up because experts had pointed out the revenue from one state cannot be shared with another.

Secondly, the political repercussions are more serious for the Congress Party, which was hoping to reap the benefit from the bifurcation while the TRS is in a win-win situation.  The earlier understanding with the TRS, which was spearheading for a separate Telangana, was that the regional outfit would merge with the Congress after the new state was created. The Congress was agreeable to project TRS chief Chandrashekhara Rao as the Congress chief ministerial candidate. But the wily Rao is dilly- dallying and is keen on a pre poll tie up than a merger and would rather like to keep his options open.

Secondly, while the KCR‘s family including his son, daughter and his nephew are fully entrenched in the Telangana politics; the Congress does not have good state level leaders. Union Minister Jaipal Reddy is one face known nationally but he has kept a low profile.

Thirdly seat sharing for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha may also create some tension. The TRS prefers an 8: 8 while the Congress wants more. The Congress has put all its eggs in the TRS basket and is hoping that its tally will increase by about 15 Lok Sabha seats in the new state while it is reconciled to losses in the Seemandhra region. If the TRS does not merge with the Congress these calculations will go awry.

Fourthly, the TRS is also looking to winning the Telengana state, or at least bag a major share of seats.  In the Assembly, the TRS wants a lion’s share of 75 of the 119 seats. Is the Congress willing to gift the new state to the TRS? Without a merger and with TRS taking the credit, the Congress may have to play a second fiddle in the state.

Moreover, there is confusion whether that the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be fought in Andhra Pradesh as a united state. While the local Congressmen want the assembly elections to be held later it is not clear this could be done.  In the Seemandhra region, which has 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 Assembly seats, the Congress will be routed in view of the anti – Congress sentiments and pent up anger against the bifurcation of the state. Here the fight will be between the TDP and the YSR Congress. Both parties are open to doing business with the NDA or bid for power in case of a hung Parliament. The TDP, which almost clinched an alliance with the BJP-led NDA is now having second thoughts on the alliance.

If one looks at the overall impact, on the minus side, there are still apprehensions that the new state could fall into the hands of the Maoists. Secondly, except the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, the rest of the state needs development and it may take a long time to show results. Thirdly KCR is not a visionary and not clear how far he can develop the new state.

Then there are the water and power issues, which need to be resolved amicably. Telangana region accounts for huge chunk of natural resources of the united Andhra Pradesh.  It accounts for 45 per cent of Andhra’s forest cover. The region comprises 68 per cent of the catchment area of the Krishna River and 79 per cent of Godavari. Utilising these resources for the development of the region will be a big challenge. Most crucial will be making water available to the drought-prone
districts of the region. Even if the new state gets the share of water as per its demands, lack of irrigation facilities will become a big constraint in reaping the benefits.

The Seemandhra region has different problems. It has to build a new capital. Telangana should create conditions to protect the rightful claims of Seemandhra.  There will be problems for those from the region who have invested in Hyderabad.

Only a special status would resolve financial problem of the mother state. Also it may take time for the people of Seemandhra to reconcile to the bifurcation. Only time will tell whether the creation of a separate state will benefit the people or the nascent state would once again slip into the hands of ultra-Left as in the case with Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh.

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