No justification for separation

The Congress must tread carefully in dealing with the Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for support to pull its government through at the Centre. The TRS chief K Chandrashekhar’s condition that the Centre start the process of carving out a separate State of Telangana in lieu of his three MPs vote would create more problems than resolve. Recall that voters of the Lok Sabha and Assembly Constituencies in the Telangana districts of Andhra Pradesh have in the March byelections decisively rejected the TRS and the separatism that it stands for. It was utmost a referendum and the people voted overwhelmingly to reject the separatist candidate.

Andhra Pradesh is a State which has made impressive progress since the 1956 reorganisation of States, which created a bigger State of Andhra Pradesh by merging the original Andhra (the Telugu speaking districts of the undivided Madras Presidency) and the eight Telugu speaking districts of the former Nizam’s dominions of Hyderabad.

The reorganization of States had abolished the Nizam’s Hyderabad by merging its Maharathi-speaking districts with Maharashtra, Kannada-speaking districts with Karnataka and Telugu speaking districts with Andhra Pradesh.

While both the Marathi speaking districts and Karnataka speaking districts accepted the new order gracefully, some sections in the eight Telugu speaking districts, earlier called-Telangana area, have been intermittently demanding a separate State of Telangana by dividing Andhra Pradesh. This demand somehow received support from some national parties in the last General elections, and this resulted in the strengthening of the agitation for a separate Telangana.

The TRS joined the UPA Government at the Centre and formed part of the government in the hope of getting its demand met. The failure of the UPA Government to concede a separate State led to their protest resignation last year, and thus necessitated the byelections, where they appealed to the voters for supporting their demand for a separate Telangana.

The result was a decisive “no” from the people. Clearly, the majority of the people of these eight Telangana districts see much merit in remaining part of Andhra Pradesh and do not fancy the idea of a separate Telangana State. On no economic ground can Telangana be justified. The city of Hyderabad has benefited enormously from being the capital of an enlarged Andhra Pradesh.

The wealthier section from coastal Andhra Pradesh has invested substantially in Hyderabad city, resulting in a prosperity which everyone can see. It is only a tiny minority which does not appreciate that the stopping of the steady flow of resources from coastal Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad and the other districts in the Telangana area, which do not have much physical resources, will make Hyderabad suffer immensely.

In the last few years it has become one of the new metropolitan cities of the country. It has one of the best international airports in India, and is also a major hub of railway traffic in the south. Interestingly, it is the only city outside the four metros where the United States is opening a consulate, thereby indicating how important it is in US perception. Earlier Iran had also opened a consulate there.

Hyderabad has become the focal point of high-tech industries and a number of other industries like drugs and pharmaceuticals. All this might come to a halt if a separate Telangana State is created. It will benefit only a small class of Telangana politicians who are hoping to gain ministerial posts in the new State. But, for the ordinary man, whether in coastal Andhra or in the Telangana areas, the creation of a separate Telangana can only be a retrograde development.

The time has, therefore, come when the Centre should formally turn down the demand for a separate Telangana State. The people of Telangana have given enough grounds by their recent voting behaviour. This amply indicates that while some of them might still outwardly make noises for Telangana for some time to come in their heart of hearts they know that it is neither possible nor desirable.

Except for Haryana, the creation of smaller States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand has not been an unmixed blessing. With a much smaller number of MLAs to manage, these States have become easy grounds for horse-trading and manipulation, resulting in prolonged political uncertainty. Often political changes can be brought about by managing a handful of MLAs with money power and muscle power.

This also affects economic growth. If a separate Telangana comes up, there is every likelihood of such a scenario being repeated. All right-thinking people in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere should, therefore, resist this.

Just because a small, but vocal minority about for smaller States like Telangana, Gorkhaland or Vidrabha there is no reason to support such demands, ignoring the long-term political and economic interests of the nation. They should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

TD Jagadesan, -INFA