On July 30th last year, in one of its attempts to salvage a sinking boat, members of the UPA promised to propose the formation of the newest state in the country to the INC-led government; a move perhaps to amass more support for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Whether bifurcation works for the better or whether it only leads to mindless fragmentation is the fodder of another debate but the drama that unfurled in the Parliament over the Telangana Bill sure points to a problem more deep-seated than the hasty promise could have anticipated. Pepper sprays, shattered glass, flinging knives, hurled abuses, hysteric MPs and a cause in question — the Parliament House of the world’s largest democracy, shamefully turned into a theatre where the foul play was staged.
What then is Telangana? States were created and recreated before, in the history of the Indian Republic. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, the last three states born in this political State witnessed a fairly quiet process of conception. Telangana on the other hand is undergoing painful labour — severely painful. It is only becoming then, to investigate, if only briefly, into the history and geography of this land. Telangana was merged into Andhra Pradesh on November 1st, 1956, post debates and deliberations almost forcibly. Telangana was not ready for the merger then. Telangana is not happy with the merger now. Prime Minister Nehru had prophetically likened this union to a matrimonial alliance, “with provision for divorce”.
The divorce has been filed for, more than fifty years later. The battle is only turning uglier by the day. And that, to my mind is not surprising given the fact that one section of the society is under the impression that Seemandhra, the weaker partner will hardly get any alimony after the divorce. Telangana the largest, richest, most prosperous chunk making up Andhra Pradesh was the major, if not the only, contributor to the state’s coffers. With Telangana gone what will be left of Andhra Pradesh is just a sorry ghost of the past — Seemandhra. To that extent the twenty-ninth state being born is probably not Telangana. Telangana is Andhra Pradesh, as we know it, the flourishing, glorious state of the South. Telangana is Andhra Pradesh with a new name — or if you so will, with an old name. What is really being born is Seemandhra — the coastal region of present Andhra Pradesh, and Ralayseema. The Seemandhra region which had lived for around fifty-seven years under the shadow of its lucrative, better half is the state that one really needs to worry about now.
Had the Congress thought through the possibility of the Seemandhra region being left pitiably orphaned when it used its trump card last year to declare its support to the Telangana movement? Possibly not.
The other section of the society obviously holds that Telangana has been the deprived partner, almost being treated as a surrogate, which justifies the Telangana Movement and the people’s demand for autonomy. This view clearly upholds that Telangana should be allowed to take up its politics and governance in its own hands. However, this division might just result in a lose-lose situation for both the players involved, leading to more drawbacks than benefits.
Had the Congress considered the possibility of leaving both the regions — Seemandhra and Telangana – by pushing the break economically weakened, if not completely devastated? Possibly not.
The third section of the society, of course, is of the opinion that Hyderabad is the mainstay of Andhra Pradesh and in the fight between the dissenting parents over the custody of this child, Hyderabad is tragically and callously being left to witness a sorry story.
Had the Congress worked out the trap that Hyderabad would fall in if they successfully saw through the division of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra? Possibly not.
Had the Congress anticipated the ugly turn that the very introduction of the Bill (let alone the Bill being passed) would take in the Parliament? Possibly not.
The only thing that the leadership had considered in all probability was the number of seats that it would win from the Telangana region, by supporting the Movement. That, unfortunately, is the only consideration governing all decisions of the esteemed elected representatives of this country.
With the elections due this May and the Parliament adjourning sine die on February 21st, the fight for and over the twenty-ninth state of the Republic of India is far from over. If anything, it has only just begun — the shaft has been shot; it hasn’t found its mark yet; the dirt that envelops this country’s political structure and chokes causes of national significance, is yet to do its worst. Having exercised our democratic power of voting our representatives into positions of authority and governance, we can at this point of time, only wait and watch as the drama unfolds further. And perhaps whisper a silent prayer.