Instability in Cong, Telangana demand made headlines in Andhra

A cocktail of instability in Congress and the demand for separate Telangana statehood combined to produce a politically-charged situation in Andhra Pradesh through 2010 and promises a lot more in the coming year.

Updated: Dec 31, 2010, 09:53 AM IST

Hyderabad: A cocktail of instability in
Congress and the demand for separate Telangana statehood
combined to produce a politically-charged situation in Andhra
Pradesh through 2010 and promises a lot more in the coming
year.

The political chaos that actually began towards the
end of 2009 ran through the whole of 2010 and may continue in
the new year over the Telangana demand on which the Justice
Srikrishna Committee submitted its report yesterday.

While the prime reason for this seemingly prolonged
turbulence is the demand for and against the bifurcation of
the state, the internal strife in the ruling Congress party
has also been a large contributing factor.

The agitations for and against the division of Andhra
Pradesh that began in December 2009 and spilled into the first
half of 2010 not only paralysed the state administration but
also left the main political parties in shambles.

The happenings within the Congress also left Andhra
Pradesh in a state of political uncertainty throughout the
year as the ruling party failed in many ways than one in
managing its own affairs. Governance, as a result, appeared to
have become a casualty.

Disarray will only be a mild word to describe the
state of Congress as it was forced to replace a
"non-effective" Chief Minister (K Rosaiah) on the one hand and
to contend with the rebellion caused by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy,
the son of late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, on the other.

New Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is facing a
tough challenge from Jagan, who is waiting for the opportune
moment to dislodge the state government, though for the record
he has promised to let it continue till 2014.

Jagan`s first rebellious act was embarking on the
`Odarpu` Yatra for consoling families of persons who died of
shock or committed suicide following his father`s death.

In fact, he used the controversial yatra for a show of
strength and building a base for himself across the state,
particularly in the Andhra-Rayalaseema regions.

The response to his road shows proved that Jagan not
only succeeded in his plans but also compounded the woes of
the beleaguered Congress.

By already attracting close to 30 MLAs, half-a-dozen
MLCs and about five Lok Sabha MPs of Congress to his side,
upon his exit from the party, Jagan has already sounded the
warning bell for the Kiran Kumar government.

Come 2011, Jagan will launch his own political outfit
with the main objective of decimating the Congress, which he
quit in December. He may be keen on attracting the
"fence-sitters" in the Congress jump on to his bandwagon,
endangering the survival of the Kiran government. Jagan apart, Congress also faces uncertainty from
within as the Telangana protagonists in the party too have
openly declared a war if statehood is not granted.

The cracks along regional lines in Congress that began
appearing in December 2009 only widened in 2010 as the high
command remained apathetic to the developments in the party.

The principal opposition Telugu Desam Party is not in
a comfortable position either. The TDP is split on regional
lines with the Telangana leaders favouring a separate state
while those from Andhra-Rayalaseema opposing it.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is unable to take a
clear stand on the state division issue and is closely
monitoring the happenings in the Congress so that he could
devise his party`s strategy.

Though initially there was hope in the TDP circles
about the party`s prospects brightening in the wake of Jagan`s
exit from Congress, the complete rout it faced in the July by-
elections in Telangana has indeed become a cause for concern.

With the TDP still vacillating over its stand on the
statehood issue, hope of revival in its fortunes in the
Telangana region that was always considered its citadel may be
scant.

The separatist Telangana Rashtra Samiti, on the other
hand, is riding high on the "sentiment" wave following its
spectacular showing in the by-elections where it won all the
11 seats it contested.

In fact, 2010 saw the TRS fighting a do-or-die battle
to achieve its sole objective - securing statehood for
Telangana.

It has taken the battle, with the help of other
separatist forces, almost to a decisive stage this year, so
much so that the political future of Andhra Pradesh now hinges
on the outcome of this battle.

Year 2010 could well be a forgettable one for
actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi as his two-year-old Praja
Rajyam Party headed nowhere. By vouching for a united state,
Chiranjeevi antagonised people of Telangana, so much so that
his party has been reduced to nothing in the region.

After more than 10 months, however, he started
attracting some of his fans from Telangana back to his fold
for re-building the PRP.

But the PRP also seems to be stuck in an existential
dilemma. It has done no good for itself by hobnobbing with
the ruling Congress and in fact lost its credibility by
showing a desperation to join the government. Chiranjeevi`s proposed re-entry into the tinsel world
fuelled speculation that he might indeed merge his outfit with
the Congress sooner of later.

The BJP`s future literally hangs in the balance in
Andhra Pradesh.

As things stand, the national party`s only hope lies in
the creation of Telangana state where it could at least try to
gain some glory, being an aggressive supporter of the
statehood demand.

At the same time, the pro-Telangana stand could prove
to be its nemesis in Andhra-Rayalaseema regions where it once
enjoyed considerable clout.

As the year 2010 draws to a close, Telangana indeed
holds the key to the fortunes of the two main political
parties - Congress and TDP - in the state.

But each will remain strong only in any one of the two
regions in any eventuality. Of course, Jagan is waiting in the
wings to play the spoilsport.

PTI