Telangana state may be reality by year-end

NEW DELHI: The Centre is set to give a final push to the formation of Telangana after the end of the monsoon session of Parliament on Friday, with Union Cabinet’s decision to divide Andhra Pradesh opening the door for a flurry of action on the fraught issue.

Sources said the Cabinet will attest the Congress decision by formally deciding on a proposal from the home ministry for creation of the new state. It will be accompanied by the constitution of a group of ministers, likely to be headed by defence minister A K Antony, to draft the legislation for statehood.

Also, the Cabinet will forward a resolution to the Andhra Pradesh assembly seeking its nod. The assembly assent is not mandatory and Congress is firm on going ahead with statehood irrespective of how the bitterly divided state House reacts to the resolution.

Sources said the process will not be protracted like the formation of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in 2000, and may be clinched before the year-end. An optimistic senior leader said, “There will be two chief ministers by November-end.”

The Congress Working Committee’s decision last month triggered a wave of protests in Coastal Andhra, largely because Hyderabad would be in Telangana and would be a shared capital till Andhra finds an alternative. But the ruling camp is undeterred by the hostility and is no mood to do a volte face like December 2009.

The move for Telangana is dictated by concerns over the party’s prospects in 2014, given the challenges of Jaganmohan Reddy’s rebellion, statehood and anti-incumbency.

Congress hopes statehood will give it an upper hand in Telangana that accounts for 17 Lok Sabha seats and could go up to 21 seats if two districts of Rayalaseema are included in it.

The gambit to cut its losses by winning over Telangana appears to make sense given the dire straits the party otherwise would be in united Andhra.

The bid to clinch statehood before the year-end would test the ruling camp. A strong section of non-Telangana bloc has aired concern that migrants would be vulnerable in Hyderabad which accounts for the maximum settler population and would fall in Telangana.

Sources said the Centre is likely to create a mechanism by which law and order in Hyderabad would be under the jurisdiction of the Centre till the capital is shared.

The challenge before the ministerial panel headed by Antony would be the division of water and power assets, intractable issues between states nationally. But sources said it was unlikely to take much time. “There is a formula that is followed by all states,” a leader said.

Congress believes it would manage to quell the challenge from Telangana Rashtra Samithi if the latter does not tie up and is focussed on how the post-T situation evolves in Coastal region where YSR Congress has come out strongly against division after initial indications that it would stay neutral.

While even Congress MPs and ministers from Coastal region are opposed to statehood, they are mostly concerned about the handing of Hyderabad to the new state. Sources said a handsome relief package to Andhra state for creation of capital would help douse the anger among people.

[Courtesy: Times of India]

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