Facts and fiction on division

By JR Janumpalli
(The author is a retired government official and Telangana activist)

It is four years since the State of Andhra Pradesh was divided. Yet, the residual AP is still smarting under its impact and making untenable allegations. Its leaders, particularly the ruling TDP, and intellectuals call the division illegal, irrational, unscientific and unethical. This negative attitude is causing it problems in settling down as well as in its working relation with Telangana. Let us examine these allegations and sift fact from fiction.

Illegal: They say when the State was reorganised on the basis of language in 1956, it should not have been divided again. It’s the first time a State was formed when the majority in Assembly did not agree to it. In Parliament, the Bill was passed with the doors closed.

Fact: Telangana was merged with Andhra in 1956 despite a majority in Telangana not being in favour. The SRC also recommended against it. It was a conditional merger with 14 agreements. Those agreements and the subsequent watered down formulas were never implemented. The cultural divide was never bridged. The majority of 175 v/s 119 MLAs in the Assembly widened the gap. Domination by majority and exploitation in every walk of life was felt in Telangana and so, the demerger was inevitable.

If the States are to be divided only with majority agreement, then there is no need for Article 3 in the Constitution. In fact, Andhra was separated from Madras despite the majority not being in agreement. This was even before the SRC in 1956 and as per Article 3. In earlier divisions, though in some States the majority did not agree, in deference to Centre’s decision, they passed the resolution gracefully in the spirit of democracy. As per Article 3, it is enough to inform the Assembly. In Parliament, almost all the political parties agreed to the division but MPs from Andhra tried to mar the proceedings and stop the Bill.

Irrational: They say the division was irrational as they have no capital; they developed Hyderabad’s infrastructure, centralised everything here, built Cyberabad and put Hyderabad on the world map.

Fact: Andhra getting separated from Madras in 1953 was a wrong move. They wanted Andhra with Madras as capital but could not get it. So, they were stranded without capital. Since Madras was on the border at least they could have bargained for a joint capital, like Chandigarh. It could have solved their capital and revenue problems. After suffering from serious deficit for three years, they coveted Hyderabad, a metropolitan city with first-class infrastructure and revenue-surplus falling in Telangana. Despite the reluctance of the Centre, and opposition of SRC and Telangana people, they managed to get into Hyderabad using Telugu language.

Many Central organisations came up in Hyderabad because of its geographical location, cosmopolitanism and good weather. A few were also established in Visakhapatnam, but it was not developed. Regarding information technology, Bengaluru and Chennai were ahead of Hyderabad in IT. Hyderabad developed like any other city in the country. In fact, Hyderabad from the fourth largest city in the 1960s dropped to 6th in 2014.

As far as capital city is concerned, In 1960, Maharashtra got separated from Gujarat and Bombay being in the Maharashtra region went to Maharashtra. Gujarat built a separate capital Gandhinagar for itself. Meghalaya was formed in 1972. Shillong was the capital of greater Assam. Shillong being in Meghalaya, went to Meghalaya. Assam built a new capital for itself in Dispur. In the same way, Madhya Pradesh lost its capital Nagpur to Maharashtra and selected Bhopal, a lesser town for its capital. If AP had continued with Kurnool as capital, it could have become like Bhopal or Bhubaneshwar.

They say they invested in Hyderabad. Yes, they did and all those investments are still there and with them only. They can keep them as long as they want or sell for profit. There are several such investors from other States too. Hyderabad, as said earlier, lagged behind other cities. So their claim is not sustainable.

Industries, particularly the IT industry, flourished in Hyderabad because of infrastructure. And it was created from out of Hyderabad and Telangana revenues. Andhra revenue was never spent in Telangana in the united State. There was no restriction to develop other towns in Andhra. Some such effort was made and infrastructure like IT parks were also developed in Vizag. But other towns did not catch up. For instance, the Medha Towers in Vijayawada and IT Parks in other towns remained empty.

Unscientific: They say the division was not scientific and so AP has revenue deficit. Many national and State institutions are in Hyderabad and in Telangana. ‘We were sent away with the just clothes on our bodies’.

Fact: The deficit budget was not caused because of the division. It is a legacy from their old Andhra State. The Andhra region had deficit from 1956 to 2014 continuously every year. Telangana’s per capita revenue was over 40% since the beginning. The Budget of the united State was balanced with surplus from Telangana. The deficit of AP in 2014-15 was Rs 7,000 crore, to be borne by Centre.

From 2015-16 to 2019-20, Rs 22,123 crore was sanctioned by the 14th Finance Commission to AP. It was for the first time any State was given such assistance. In addition, the central tax devolution and grants-in-aid are almost double to that of Telangana – Rs 2,44,591 crore for AP and Rs 1,37,941 crore for TS from FY16 to FY19 (Budget documents). With that AP has proposed a surplus Budget of Rs 5,235 crore for 2018-19. There is also a special package for seven backward districts with tax incentives for setting up industries and deficit revenue grant of Rs 30,000 cr. In addition, they have about Rs 1,00,000 crore revenue receipts of their own.

Haphazard division: The division was done just on the lines of any other 15 or so divisions earlier made. The same draft provisions for different sections of the division were followed.

Fact: The officer in charge for drafting of the Reorganisation Act was from Andhra and the Minister was Jairam Ramesh, an Andhra MP. No Telanganite had any hand or access to it. The specific recommendations or gifts given are:

1. Joint capital facility for 10 years. This, in fact, has delayed the new capital construction

2. Section 8 for the safeguard of Andhras. Such provision is considered unconstitutional and was not there in any other division

3. A committee for selecting the site of the capital city and financial assistance for building infrastructure. Though the committee did its job, it was rejected by the State, which selected a different site

4. Polavaram multipurpose project whose cost has now escalated to Rs 60,000 crore. Paradoxically, it will serve only the over-irrigated Krishna and Godavari delta areas

5. AP gets 20 national institutions/projects whereas for Telangana, it’s just 6

One can now compare and see what is legal, rational, scientific and ethical in the State’s division.

Source: Telangana Today

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