Can someone politely tell the elected representatives from Seemandhra to shut up? Because it is quite pathetic the manner in which they continue to fool the people of the two regions of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, talking of how they still can prevent Telangana from happening, first by blocking the Bill on Andhra Pradesh’s reorganisation in the Assembly and then Parliament. Fake bravado, thy name is the Congress leader from Seemandhra.
Facts on the ground are that the state assembly is only expected to “express an opinion”, not vote for or against the draft Bill. Two, with the BJP committed to supporting formation of Telangana, a few Seemandhra MPs aren’t likely to add or subtract much from the total number of `Ayes’.
Let’s face it. These leaders have been checkmated by the more persistent lot from Telangana who despite their political differences, were united in their goal of achieving statehood for their region. Yes, the Congress leaders from Telangana found KCR’s verbal volleys offensive but they did not let those ego battles come in the way of ensuring they did their bit.
But not so the `power-ful’ Seemandhra MPs. Ever since December 23, 2009, when they forced the Congress to take a U-turn on its Chidambaram’s Statehood at Midnight announcement, they were drunk on their ability to ensure Telangana will never happen. In private conversations, they pointed to their moneybag status and the fact that apart from a political relationship, they also enjoyed business relationship with the people who mattered in Delhi.
But the manner in which the Congress High command treated this lot is a case study in political management. The same business interests were used to get some of the MPs to behave themselves. While they were allowed to indulge in posturing in public, in private, they did not step out of line, to ensure their self-interest did not suffer.
The leadership also split the group on caste lines. A minister like Panabaka Lakshmi, from the SC community, was not interested in calling it quits because the leadership started wooing her and ministers like K Laxminarayana, Balaraju in the state, as a foil to the Reddys who have always dominated Andhra Pradesh politics in the Congress party. These leaders saw an opportunity for themselves in a Congress keen to indulge in some social engineering.
The Rayala Telangana proposal that was mooted by a section of ministers in the Group of Ministers came in handy to divide the lot more. Suddenly the MPs and ministers from Kurnool and Anantapur were willing to break ranks with the United Andhra Pradesh lobby and join a Telangana state. Now that the cabinet went back to its Telangana-only plan, these leaders, are back with the original group – grumpy and sheepish. But the cracks have only widened.
First-time ministers like KS Rao, Chiranjeevi, Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy went through the motions of resigning but continued to stay in their chair, arguing that the PM had told them to do so. The real reason was that there was not much to gain by pressing for their resignations to be accepted because the Congress back home was being demolished completely and being a political nobody in Delhi did not make sense. The leadership played on the lal batti obsession of these leaders. Ditto with the ministers in the state cabinet.
The fight over which city will be the new capital of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh also came in handy to divide the united AP group. While Kishore Chandra Deo pitched for Visakhapatnam, the Rayalaseema group plumped for Kurnool. Others rooted for Vijayawada-Guntur. The fight is only likely to intensify now that an expert committee will ask for suggestions. Good way to keep everyone busy.
It is not that only the Congress representatives have behaved irresponsibly. You have the TDP MP N Shivaprasad saying Chandrababu Naidu will withdraw the TDP letter affirming its support to bifurcation if the Congress would reverse its decision then. Are political parties and their decisions on crucial matters taken so whimsically?
Both the TDP and the YSR Congress declared a bandh in the 13 districts of Seemandhra – in a sense, abdicating its position in Telangana. Almost as if everyone living in Telangana is in favour of the manner in which the division of the state is taking place. TDP called for a 48-hour bandh, so the YSRC also extended its bandh to the second day, citing people’s wishes to do so. This competitive bandh politics is going to get the people who advocate an united AP nowhere. They only inconvenience the common man in these regions.
Meanwhile, the language is getting shrill. Those who are settled in Hyderabad from other regions are already complaining of subtle and not-so-subtle threats issued online. It won’t take much time for it to get offline, they fear. The message is that anyone who is living in any part of Telangana can speak anything remotely critical of the division at his or her own risk. Intolerance is reflecting itself in the kind of intemperate language being spoken. If Brand Hyderabad has to survive and flourish, it is important that such voices do not get any encouragement in the new state of Telangana.