By T S Sudhir
He may not be a traffic-stopper in the usual sense in which the phrase is used, but stop the traffic he did, all morning on Saturday in different parts of Hyderabad. Everywhere there was a statue of a Congress dignitary, Andhra Pradesh’s newly notified deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha rushed with a garland.
And with the Congress culture of swarming around a new piece of High command blessed jaggery like a pack of flies, the entourage ensured Raja ki aayegi baraat was running behind schedule, with statues, after an early morning ablution, kept waiting. From Indira Gandhi to B R Ambedkar to Jagjeevan Ram to Rajiv Gandhi and YSR.
DRN is among the Telangana Congressmen who have been handed out lollipops by 24, Akbar Road. Almost in the manner of bribing a child who makes too much noise for a bigger toy, the Congress has tried to buy peace by creating a deputy market in Telangana. So Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Deputy Chairman of the Council, Deputy CM, a series of ornamental posts, none of which are 22 carat gold.
Of course, on paper, the Congress step is in keeping with the Gentleman’s agreement that was signed between Telangana and Andhra leaders before the integration of Telangana with Andhra state and formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. The six-point formula envisaged as part of the agreement provided safeguards aimed at avoiding discrimination against people of Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh. One of the provisions was for a Deputy Chief ministership for Telangana if CM is from Andhra and vice-versa.
The arrangement had a rickety start when the first-ever Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, who was also a signatory to the Gentlemen’s agreement, ridiculed the post of Deputy Chief Ministership as the sixth finger and thus useless.
Also take a closer look and you will realise that none of the three number 2s given the three posts, have ever been in the forefront of Telangana agitational politics. Not to say they are anti-Telangana, but they have been at best on the fringes of saying `Jai Telangana’. An indication that embarrassing Delhi with accusations of dilly-dallying on the issue of statehood to Telangana doesn’t quite go down well with the powers-that-be.
The Telangana Congressmen have been busy on the Hyderabad-Delhi air route ever since the assembly election results in the five states were out on May 13. But with the UPA government on the backfoot thanks to a series of `fast’ yorkers hurled at it by civil society and trouble in the Congress-DMK marriage, any discussion on Telangana has been put on hold. The suspension of the agitation during the period has also given the Congress in Delhi some breathing space. Leading to voices within the leadership which are now questioning “if emotionally surcharged agitations can indeed take a summer vacation”.
Realising that the lull is working to its disadvantage, the Telangana Joint Action Committee is organising another `Million March’ in Hyderabad this month. Another war cry, another show of strength, another message from Hyderabad to Delhi. The idea, leaders say, is to mount pressure on the UPA when it is already facing the heat and extract its pound of flesh.
However, the thinking in the Congress especially after the Azad visit to Hyderabad, seems to be to pacify the Congressmen from Telangana with sops and somehow keep the show on till 2014. Botsa Satyanarayana, the new PCC chief, is seen as a streetsmart politician, who would be expected to ensure peace in the Telangana camp and douse fires of revolt among Congressmen looking to keep one foot in the Jaganmohan Reddy camp.
Both the Telugu Desam and YSR Congress are entertaining themselves by throwing empty challenges at each other, daring the other to bring down the government. The fact of the matter is both don’t want an election at this stage. All political parties are only too well aware that Andhra Pradesh will only throw up a divided verdict at this stage which won’t do any of them any good.
So the best bet is to let Kiran Kumar Reddy bat through the remainder of the five-year Test match, knowing fully well that his chances of emerging a winner at the end are pretty bleak.