Why Congress cannot give Telangana

By T S Sudhir

If Justice Srikrishna is Lord Krishna and P Chidambaram is Arjuna on the battleground of Andhra Pradesh, you can be reasonably sure the Union Home minister will follow the two-volume Bhagvad Gita of 2010 to the last full stop. Which means his eyes will be fixed on somehow ensuring Option 6 is implemented despite the political price his party, the Congress may have to pay in the Telangana region. Arjuna too had to, much against his wishes, kill Bhishma Pitamah at Kurukshetra, remember.
Option 6 states recommends keeping Andhra Pradesh united by “simultaneously providing definite constitutional, statutory measures for the socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region and creation of statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council”. This the committee feels is the most “workable option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people of the three regions”.
For all of the UPA government’s efforts to make it appear that any decision on Telangana will be the decision of all the political parties and by extension, the people of the Andhra Pradesh, everyone knows the political decision has to be taken by the Congress High command.  After all, most people believe, the mess the state finds itself in today, is largely due to the hurriedly-drafted statement on the midnight of December 9, 2009 and the subsequent flip-flop.
What are its options?
Not giving Telangana would mean a certain electoral defeat in most pockets of the region. It got a taste of that when it failed to win a single seat in the byelections to 12 assembly seats last year. Even its state chief D Srinivas was mauled by the BJP candidate in Nizamabad despite the heavyweight politician moving heaven, earth and Telangana to ensure his win.
In fact, ever since the agitation got reignited last year, Congress leaders have found it difficult to travel around in the Telangana region especially with people demanding that the party come clean on its stand on statehood to the region. Pressure mounted on the High command has not yielded results since there is an equal and opposite reaction from the elected representatives of the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, giving an 180 degrees different take on the Telangana issue.
Insiders in the Congress say the concern of the Seemandhra Congressmen is not out of place. They are dealing with a threat who goes by the name of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. Ever since he quit the Congress, Jagan has been making moves to strengthen his base by touring the districts extensively. While critics may carp that people are flocking to see YSR’s son and that crowds are never quite an accurate barometer of a politician’s potential, Congressmen admit he will damage the Congress even if he does not make it on his own.
And in this calculation if you grant statehood to Telangana, the Congress may as well forget about winning in Seemandhra. And even in Telangana, it will be K Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS which will be seen as the architect of the state and not the Congress. The BJP, at present a party of little relevance in Andhra Pradesh, will gain significantly as well. 

TRS leaders say they will merge the party with the Congress once Telangana becomes a state, but Congressmen say they will be fools to take KCR at his word.

So granting Telangana could mean losing in all the three regions. Politically, suicidal for the Congress in a state which delivered it 33 Lok Sabha MPs in May 2009. Even historically speaking, Andhra Pradesh has most of the times stayed with the Congress, including  in its worst year of the post-Emergency election in 1977. Then while the entire country let down Indira Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh elected 41 Congress candidates out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats. The 42nd MP from the state was Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, who went on to become the President of India.
What happens if it doesn’t grant Telangana? It loses heavily in Telangana but in the other two regions, it can hope to give a fight to Jagan and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam. If Kiran Kumar Reddy is allowed to function and  perform as well, maybe a serious focus on development projects in Telangana could yield electoral dividends as well. It is a `maybe’ but it is atleast a `maybe’. 

The Congress can then hope the Telangana sentiment wouldn’t be as strong as it is now, when elections take place in 2014 and people may vote on the development agenda instead of pure sentiment. Kiran can hope to be Andhra Pradesh’s Nitish Kumar. Though there is a good chance he could be Andhra’s Rahul Gandhi, whose report card in Bihar read 4/243 assembly seats.

Which is why the Telangana parties are in a hurry. Telangana activists admit reigniting passions this time is proving a bit difficult given that the people of the region are a bit confused by the Srikrishna googly and still trying to figure out if the eminent former Judge did or did not recommend statehood to Telangana. The media blackout of violent agitations is also preventing reaching out to more people in one go.

Therefore, political pressure is the only way out, they aver. Unless KCR pulls a `fast’ rabbit out of his hat.
TRS sources say they are putting pressure on atleast 5 Congress MPs and 20 MLAs from Telangana to resign. They are also banking on Jagan doing a big show in Delhi on January 11, where atleast 3 MPs and some 20 MLAs are expected to turn up. Will the Congress dare to initiate disciplinary action against so many of its own, without endangering its government in Hyderabad?

A mid-term poll over the Telangana issue in the region is KCR’s best bet now. Riding on the sentiment, he would hope he can be either king or kingmaker in Hyderabad and then force the issue. For that he needs the Congress MPs and MLAs to play ball. Will they, after the lessons on good behaviour they received in Pranab ki paathshaala earlier this week?


(You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com)



About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
This entry was posted in Kiran Kumar Reddy, Political blogs, Telangana and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why Congress cannot give Telangana

  1. ijswamy says:

    History repeats itself . History of congress party repeated several times .Congress says it has an ideology – secularism , socialism and democracy . 1000 other political parties have a single local parochial agenda.Congress( including invincible Indira Gandhi) was defeated at polls several times in several states on several grounds but only to be returned to power again and again .Andhra Pradesh was, is, and will be the bastion of congress party. The secret is public .
    A hungry ,ill clad and roofless man does not discuss ideology , principles and much less individual freedom .
    CM Kiran Kumar Reddy already started counting beads with the Magic Mantra called 20 Point programme. Till 2014 the poor will get more rice for less price,more and more students will receive scholarships , more houses will be built for poor people .Anyone in Telangana will get anything for the asking..Police will hereafter will arrest anyone who makes noice . Press and media are already suffering from PHOBIA.Ambika Sony the lady who helped late Sanjay Gandhi during “Emergency ” once more ordered the media to behave . In short Andhra Pradesh will be under undeclared emergency .
    Congress president “vows” to fight corruption! .If one Congress MP and one MLA is arrested for some offence the agitation for Separate Telangana vanishes and the “free” media start teaching the merits of UNITY
    After EMERGENCY Congress wins in Andhra Pradesh .

  2. Vijay says:

    Roadmap for peaceful settlement of Telangana Issue
    1. Cause of agitation:
    Non-implementation of Gentleman’s agreement and 610 GO and Mulki rules
    Secondary reasons are: Unfair distribution of wealth, water, and cultural and historical differences.

    2. Stakeholders in favour of separate status:
    Politicians, Students, Employees, Common People – Directly
    Expat NRIs – Indirectly

    3. Why the arguments for split is not justifiable:
    Recently concluded Sri Krishna Committee’s report clearly shows that there is no deficiency in development and distribution of opportunities and wealth in Telangana vis-à-vis the rest of the state. Development has been at par and at times better than the rest of the state.
    Since, development has been taken care of during the last 50-60 years non-implementation of Gentleman’s agreement does not have much relevance as the goal of the agreement was to safeguard development and distribution of wealth and opportunities.
    The only issue though is the non-implementation of the 610 GO and Mulki rules. But this issue can be resolved and it does not warrant a split in the state.
    Dealing with water sharing would be more difficult with separate states than it is in an united state, hence this is not a solution for water sharing as well.

    It appears that for the common people (barring the politicians, expat NRIs), it is more of an emotional issue between the regions and not socio-political.

    4. Why there is a need to find a solution without further delay:
    The fire is simmering and becoming bigger and bigger everyday. The chances of it getting out of control are raised because of rumours and misinformation which is fed to the people by way various channels. (print, electronic etc. etc.). This is also bound to cause confusion, chaos, bitterness and hatred between people of different regions.

    5. How a solution can be arrived at:
    Establish a regional council as suggested by the Sri Krishna Committee, which will oversee the problem of implementation of Mulki rules etc. over a period of 10 year (recommend a fixed time frame instead of indefinite tenure)
    This will also oversee government spending to remove bias. The reports should be published regularly to showcase transparency.
    Have discussion with all parties (different regions) individually to create an atmosphere of reconciliation.
    Promise/release a package (to be issued over a period of 5 years), and strictly fulfil it.
    Seek support of TRS and TDP to diffuse the situation – Would need excellent negotiation.

    6. Long term solution:
    Rename the united state to Telangana.
    This would achieve several long term benefits. (but would require the support of other regions and convince them that they lose nothing but just a name; but on the other hand they would win hearts)
    This would create harmony and remove bitterness and this is essential since although the regions were united as a state but the regional barriers were always there and issue could open up time and again and exploited (by various kinds of forces).
    By renaming it we can ensure that this issue is buried for ever, and we can remove the stigma of backwardness from Telangana region. (Although it’s not true that it is backward and it is equally forward or backward as any other region in the united state, whichever way we may look at it).

  3. ijswamy says:

    Gentleman`s agreement is not implemented because politics in India is critically short of gentlemen (and Ladies). Telugu s need TELUNGANA. No danger if name is changed . NTR contested and won from three assembly seats one each from coastal Andhra,Royalseema and Telangana .During his rule we never heard the word Telangana . After him each CM is “appointed” by high command in Delhi much like an LDC in a govt. office. .People of Andhra never had a choice to elect a CM when congress wins .People of Telangana want to elect their own CM directly .Totally free election is needed.

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