With the Congress-led UPA government finally giving in to TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao’s emotional blackmail for a separate Telagana state, the country is now bracing up to welcome its 29th state.
The Centre, by announcing to initiate the process of the formation of a separate state, saved Andhra Pradesh from one major political crisis, but may have set off another one, which keeps us guessing about the long run implications.
At this juncture, when the people of Telangana region are busy celebrating the biggest victory of their tallest leader KCR’s political career, I just don’t know how to react.
With due respect to people of Telangana and all those who laid their life demanding a separate state, I am happy that their prolonged struggle has now ended. However, at the same time I wish to bemoan the creation of constant sub-divisions of our country.
Who can deny that this will give a push to similar discordant voices demanding th
e creation of more states after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh?
We must not forget there are some other regions, which are still waging a war for statehood like Gorkhaland (West Bengal), Vidharbha (Maharashtra), Laddakh, Harit Pradesh, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Rohilkhand (all in UP).
And could there be any justification for bifurcation of a state just in the name of development and prosperity?
The most potent argument, which is given in favour of creating more states is that it will foster a rapid development of the region and will be more feasible from the administrative point of view. It will also help governance spread out.
But practically speaking, the bifurcation of a state is a complex procedure consuming a lot of time and thousands of crores of rupees for installing new government buildings, secretariats and other important offices.
There is hardly any doubt that creation of a new state will fulfill the five-decade old aspirations of the people of perhaps the most backward region of Andhra Pradesh.
The people of Telangana never accepted the merger, which was imposed on them in 1956 despite the first State Reorganisation Commission’s (SRC) disapproval, so it’s certainly a historic moment for them.
As far as TRS chief is concerned, KCR, with his fast unto-death, has now achieved a cult figure-like status among his supporters. KCR’s victory on the Telangana issue has sprung a surprise to all those, who were trying to write him off following TRS’ humiliating defeat in this year’s elections.
We all probably thought that with TRS’ poll debacle, the Telangana movement had died and the disturbing voices for the creation of more states won’t be heard in the future. But, we were terribly wrong. KCR virtually pushed Congress leadership into a corner over the issue within eleven days of his fast unto death.
So what prompted the Centre to concede to KCR’s demands?
If Telangana sympathizers excuse me for saying that it was probably the fear of a Maoist takeover of major power centers in Andhra, considering the violent protest and the vast support it garnered from all quarters that compelled the Centre to succumb to KCR.
The people of Telangana are now optimistic that the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, India's first state formed on linguistic basis, will end decades of their neglect and exploitation.
However, considering the dismal performance of three states - Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttarakhand - created earlier, the whole exercise seems to be futile.
Andhra Pradesh has 23 districts in three regions – Coastal Andhra (nine), Rayalaseema (four) and Telangana (ten) and its capital Hyderabad falls deep inside the Telangana region. So it will be politically difficult for the state government to part ways with the city and shift the capital to Vishakhapatnam as demanded by TRS.
The fruits of development like Hyderabad & Secunderabad’s rapid rise as IT hubs, the growing retail market, the increased consumer spending, urban culture and economic prowess of the residents in the twin cities, the developed infrastructure etc will all come in Telangana’s control.
A compromise deal of having a joint capital on the lines of Chandigarh and turning Hyderabad into a Union Territory seems to be a far-fetched thought at the moment.
With the division, Andhra will now be left with 13 districts- nine prosperous districts of Coastal Andhra, and four backward districts of the Rayalaseema region.
At present, Telangana has an estimated population of about 35 million people, while Andhra and Rayalaseema have 40 million people. Telangana region now accounts for 119 of the 294 seats in the Assembly, and 17 of the 42 Lok Sabha members.
So clearly, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will turn Telangana into a more powerful player in future increasing its say in political bargains.
The upcoming regime will have to tackle existing problems like economic backwardness, illiteracy, poor infrastructure and the growing Naxal problem.
Telangana region has become a Naxal hotbed and shares a border with Chhattisgarh. Part of Dandakaranya, where Naxals are active, is in the Telangana region as well.
Only time will tell whether the socio-economic differences between the educationally backward people of Telangana and the affluent population residing in the coastal areas will end, whether Telangana will be able to derive all advantages of development and turn itself into a more prosperous state or it will just end up as yet another poverty-struck state.
It will possibly take years for the people of Telangana to realize what they gained and what they lost, but at the moment no one wants to look that far. They are jubilant that KCR has struck gold by putting his life at stake for Telangana.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)