By: Sujai K
The current imbroglio between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh should not come as a surprise to the political pundits that have witnessed the decade-long emotionally charged Telangana Movement. In fact such a confrontation could easily be deemed inevitable. Unlike most other divisions of the past which have been quite smooth and clean, creation of the 29th state of India, Telangana, came with untenable promises. In an effort to pacify the bereaved Andhra leaders and its people, New Delhi created a futile experiment called common capital out of the city of Hyderabad, which was lying deep inside Telangana, where the powers over the city were entirely with Telangana, with no constitutional or legal guarantees to Andhra Pradesh.
From the outset of the bifurcation, most legal pundits knew that it was a farcical exercise because in reality Hyderabad entirely belonged to Telangana, with a comforting touch that Hyderabad could accommodate Government of Andhra Pradesh.
The Andhra leadership conveniently ignored the actual purport of the reorganization bill and instead believed in fanciful interpretations. Most glaringly, Andhra Pradesh missed the most important point, that Telangana agreed to host the guests for a period of ten years, as goodwill gesture, and not because it was legally mandated.
But this gesture of goodwill and hospitality was once again taken for granted and became a sign of weakness of Telangana in the face of the arrogance of Andhra leadership who started to assume that they have as much right over Hyderabad as Telangana. Initial bickering over various institutions and property must have made them realize – because even High Court made it clear that all institutions in Telangana belong to Telangana – but the Andhra leadership refused to budge from their fallacious claim over Hyderabad.
After the bifurcation, Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of new Andhra Pradesh, had a great opportunity to focus on his own state, develop the neglected regions of North Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema, and use the extensive coastline to spur business and industry, but instead chose to live in another state, and be obsessively preoccupied with the internal affairs of that state.
For a neutral observer it was rather confusing. Living in the capital city of another state, Naidu was acting more like the opposition leader of Telangana instead of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The entire administration, the cabinet ministers, the IAS officers, the secretaries, the government officers of Andhra Pradesh continue to live and function in another state. Imagine Jayalalitha and her entire cabinet ruling over Tamil Nadu living in Bangalore. How ridiculous would that be!
And yet, the CM of Andhra Pradesh and his team continued to believe in the pipe dream that not only would they remain in Hyderabad for ten years, but in another five years, would be back in power in both states, and rule them as if it was one single state from the capital city of Hyderabad thereby continuing their hegemony over Telangana.
In fact, the initial few victories were won by CM of Andhra Pradesh immediately after the bifurcation. His clout was quite evident when Modi’s new government passed an ordinance to take some villages out of Telangana and add them to Andhra Pradesh just so that Polavaram project can be built without hassles from Telangana. For some time it looked like Modi was giving a cold shoulder to CM of Telangana while Naidu was enjoying warm reception in Delhi.
People of Andhra Pradesh have been lulled into believing that one day, in future, by some quirky subterfuge and chicanery and using their clout with New Delhi, which their leadership is famous for, they will somehow play against the nature and geography to wean away Hyderabad and bring it to Seemandhra.
With such dreams the CM of Andhra Pradesh behaved as if he was the future CM of Telangana. That arrogance combined with ignorance has led him to believe he could destabilize Telangana Government, and be the spoilsport. But it all backfired. One fine day, TDP MLA Revanth was caught red handed in an alleged cash-for-vote scam which is now telecasted on all news channels. And then came out the alleged voice of Naidu implicating himself in the case.
All of a sudden, the CM of Andhra Pradesh is no longer coveted guest in New Delhi. He is no longer the darling of national media. The honeymoon is over. Within the state, the mastermind lost his plot and he is on the defensive on all fronts.
Is there a way out? Yes, there is. First and foremost, Andhra leadership need to accept some ground realities. Telangana is a new state. There is no way it is going to become a part of united Andhra Pradesh once again, no matter what who is the CM of Telangana. They need to move on.
Second, Hyderabad is the capital city of Telangana. Andhra Pradesh has absolutely no right over it, legally or constitutionally. The administration of AP can continue to function from here as guests but nothing more. Any attempt to claim a right over it will backfire and result in shame for the CM of AP.
In fact, the best option for Naidu is that he immediately starts operating out of Vijayawada using the District Collector offices just like how most other new states did. This will be saving grace whereby Naidu will restore his dignity.