By T S Sudhir
Their lal battis did not come in handy just when they were going to give up on them. The Congress MPs from Telangana got stuck in a traffic jam in Lutyens’ Delhi and by the time, they reached Parliament to tell the Speaker that they want to exit Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar had exited.
Unfortunately, back home in Hyderabad, there was less sympathy and more cynicism for the Telangana cause getting delayed due to a traffic jam on the road less travelled.
“The credibility of the Congress is so low already, they should not be resorting to such silly excuses,” was the comment of a cynical pro-Telangana voice at Gun Park, the Martyr’s Memorial opposite the Andhra Pradesh state assembly. A couple of hours later, however, nine Lok Sabha MPs and one Rajya Sabha MP had become political martyrs for the cause of Telangana.
In the tectonic Deccan plateau, the tremors were stronger. They measured 11 ministers of the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet and an additional 32 MLAs on the Congress Richter scale. The vibrations were threatening to rock the Kiran Kumar Reddy government by the end of the day.
The aftershocks of the Congress resignation quake was meant to be resignations by the Telugu Desam. But they preferred to go first. Turning a blind eye to their supremo’s vague two eyes theory on Telangana, 33 TDP MLAs were among the first to troop into the deputy Speaker’s office in the Andhra Pradesh assembly to say `I quit’. Four rebel TDP legislators had already worked the fax lines on Sunday.
The TRS contribution was the call to keep Telangana shut for 48 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a rail roko on Friday and Saturday and another round of `Vanta varpu’ (cooking and eating on the roads) on Sunday.
Nay, if the body language of Union Home minister P Chidambaram is anything to go by. He was indifferent, unperturbed and underplayed the entire political development. He did not even think it was “that alarming”. His characteristic sneer firmly in place, he told the Telangana politicians that when they refer to his statement made on the midnight of December 9, 2009 (granting Telangana), they should also refer to the statement made on December 23 (talking of consultation process). Both of them contradictory, reflecting the confusion in the UPA mind over Telangana.
It is certainly an intractable situation for the Congress leadership but then it is paying the price for its own political miscalculation and a tendency to choose political expediency over more democratically acceptable options. It has sought to placate the hunger of the people of the region for their own state by distributing a few carrots.
Political analyst K Nageshwar however says the Congress MPs and MLAs have played into KCR’s hands by quitting. He says if their resignations are not accepted, it will be back to square one. “But if they are accepted and bypolls are held, will these leaders contest once again on the Congress and TDP ticket? Both party high commands are still wishy-washy about their stand on Telangana. So if they do so, will it cut ice with the voters?”
Most people would agree that a bandh in Telangana achieves little and only inconveniences the very people whose cause it is espousing. Delhi couldn’t care less if a region 1500 km away is shut for almost a week. In any case, people outside Andhra Pradesh already talk of Brand Hyderabad in the past tense.
It is quite evident the Congress will not take a decision in a hurry because it has everything to lose by declaring if it is for or against statehood to Telangana. Ironically, in doing so, it follows the mantra of one of its forgotten sons, Telangana bidda P V Narasimha Rao. That sometimes not taking a decision is also a decision.