Rayala – Telangana: Recipe for another disaster

By: Sujai K

The year 1956 saw the unfolding of first recipe for disaster for the people of Telangana. That year, going against the overwhelming wishes of the people of Telangana, a new geographical entity called Andhra Pradesh was created by combining two distinct and disparate regions of Telangana and Andhra State. It was a historical blunder as most pundits would describe it in retrospect. Jawaharlal Nehru chose to ignore the democratic aspirations of the people of the Telangana and instead succumbed to the political expediencies of that time to create Andhra Pradesh. For a while it felt like a political victory that thwarted some of the impending problems.

Telangana was annexed into Indian Union in 1948 through use of armed forces which toppled the Nizam of Hyderabad. Merging Telangana with Andhra State seemed to neutralize a possible domination of Muslim rulers who had earlier expressed fealty towards Pakistan. Also, there were nagging doubts that Communists might dominate in Telangana, having recently carried out the first and historic armed peasant movement against the zamindari system. The merged state gave an apparent satisfaction that rise of Communists in the region was kept under check. While that political calculation held a promise of rich dividends to the Congress, it was done at the cost of snubbing and suppressing the voice of Telangana people.

Sixty years later, it is a foregone conclusion now that merger of Telangana with Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh was a recipe for disaster. Gentlemen’s Agreement, the cement that was used to forge the two regions, fell off before it dried. The merger let to discontent, disenchantment, and disillusionment amongst people of Telangana – resulting in 1969 agitation, the suppression of which led to a protracted naxalite movement in the region. Only beginning in 2000, people of Telangana found a political voice to demand the demerger of the state.

Now we are looking at the second recipe for disaster in making. Congress in New Delhi is floating the ridiculous idea called Rayala Telangana, a hypothetical geographical entity formed out of breaking Rayalaseema into two halves and then adding one half to Telangana. According to this plan, the districts of Kurnool and Anantapur will be joined with Telangana to create a new state. Coincidentally, this division results in exactly halving Andhra Pradesh – giving 147 Assembly seats for Rayala Telangana out of 294 and 21 Lok Sobha seats out of existing 42. It does look like a mathematician’s dream, to divide geography into exact two halves so as to appear just and fair. But then politics, history and culture are not based in such mathematics. Allegiances, cultures, identities do not follow algebra and geometry. Chattisgarh or Uttarakhand did not get half of their erstwhile states.

But more than satisfying a mathematical quest, this seemingly ridiculous division promises to take care of political interests of the Congress party and that appears to be the major motive behind the promotion of this nefarious idea.

Congress in New Delhi believes that it is going to kill three birds with one stone. The first bird is TRS, supposedly an ‘unpredictable’ political party in the eyes of Congress, because they may or may not join their national party. The Congress command doesn’t know whether KCR would merge with them or not. It is not sure what the outcome of granting of Telangana would be. Would people vote TRS into power? Or would they give credit to Congress? It does not want to take chances.

Creation of Rayala Telangana would make it a Pyrrhic victory for people of Telangana. The people will not know whether they should celebrate or be saddened at the way their new state is formed, laden with more problems than being a solution to their woes. TRS will not be able to lay claim to such a division. Furthermore, adding two districts of Rayalaseema who were not sympathetic to Telangana movement would dilute the domination of TRS in the new state.

The second bird is YSRCP. Jagan’s bastion is Rayalaseema where he is the uncontested leader. Through the power derived in this region, he makes claim in the rest of the state. If Rayalaseema is bifurcated, he loses his home ground advantage. Congress believes this is the way to tackle YSRCP.

Congress may even be patting itself on the back because their current plan may even kill a third bird. That is TDP. Creation of Rayala Telangana may downsize Naidu, who hails from Rayalaseema though most of his seats are from Telangana. There is a good chance the he may lose out in both the new states if Rayalaseema is bifurcated.

While this looks like a perfect plan for Congress giving it the best way out of the current quagmire promising political fortunes for the party, it spells doom for the people of the new state. And they are not going to excuse Congress party for that. It is another recipe for disaster for people of Telangana and for the fates of Congress in the new states.

Carving out nonsensical geographical units without caring for aspirations of the people has never benefited political parties in a democracy. Such divisions were handiwork of dictators and colonial masters who used them to decimate the powers of the natives. The stone that is designed to kill three birds will ultimately kill one bird, and that is Congress. Such a division will leave people of Telangana fuming with anger for diluting their demand and people of Rayalaseema seething in fury for dividing their region.

People of Telangana have no interest at this point of time to live in the same state with people of Rayalaseema – if that was the case, the experiment of Andhra Pradesh should have worked. It didn’t. And people of Rayalaseema who had earlier made sacrifices to give up their capital city in Kurnool, to make the experiment of Andhra Pradesh work, at the behest of people of Coastal Andhra, will now get infuriated to see their region divided as if they were a throwaway carpet that needs to be cut into two unceremoniously. And the voters of Andhra would not forgive Congress for this senseless plan which takes away two more districts from their new state. In short, Congress will realize that its chicanery will rewarded with rejection from both the new states.

The people of Telangana demand only for their ten districts to be formed into a new state. They are unified in their cause and unified in their identity. The borders are clearly demarcated. This ploy of adding two new districts to come up with a beautiful mathematical formula or political maneuver to decimate the regional parties without taking into account the democratic aspirations and sentiments of the people will result in a major disaster for the people of Telangana, and it will backfire on Congress to push this national party into oblivion in all the three regions. Meanwhile, Rayalaseema would erupt in violence as this move would essentially erase its identity. Such a violent upsurge would force the New Delhi to take back its decision. Congress is better off in creating Telangana as per the demands of Telangana instead of trying to create a hotchpotch of the region. It can only hope that people of Telangana will reward it for its sane decision while people of Seemandhra will eventually come to terms with separation of Telangana.

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