Monday, July 29, 2013

Congress's lack of clarity on Telangana

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting is here for reference:
There was a front page banner article in The Hindu today, titled Telangana looks certain. “Senior party and Government sources” told The Hindu the political considerations behind this “decision” but left out details on the administrative considerations (which we will discuss later in the article). There have been other leaks too — to other publications — pretty much saying the same thing. This is the umpteenth time the Congress has leaked such “decisions” to the media, only to backtrack them later. Assuming that the leaks now are true, they expose the severe bankruptcy in the thinking of the Congress.
There are two main points that I wish to bring to the notice of the readers here.
First, the article also gave a sequence of events that should happen before the splitting of AP can happen. I will paraphrase them here for easy reading (points in brackets are by me).
1.Congress Working Committee to endorse decision taken to create Telangana (please note that no decision has been taken yet!)
2. After CWC endorsement, file will go to the Union Cabinet.
3. Then the file goes to the President.
4. President then sends it to the AP Assembly.
5. Assembly approval not mandatory, it needs only “views” of MLAs.
6. If after prescribed time, Assembly does not get back, Parliament to take up the Bill for approval.
Let’s assume steps 1 to 3 will be smooth. It is steps 4 and 5 that will become a thorn in the Bill’s side. The AP Assembly is deeply divided on this issue. Congress’s own MLAs, MPs, and Ministers are leading protest rallies (as latest as last week) for a unified State — there has been no instance of any discussion happening with them. If there is a strong pro-single State sentiment in the Andhra-Rayalseema region, political leaders of the other parties will also not simply keep quiet. They too will join the agitation and bandhs / strikes will become the order of the day.
Let’s assume that steps 1 to 3 will in fact decide for a unified Andhra Pradesh. The exact same situation mentioned above will happen in the Telangana region.
Under such a surcharged atmosphere, how does the Union Government of India propose to make this process smooth? Guess what? They have no clue yet! Not a single attempt has been made to hold extensive discussions with people and leaders of various regions. Only occasional leaks saying that the “decision is almost taken”.
Second, please take careful note of what the ‘sources’ are leaking. The article today says:
The key issue, of course, is to address the apprehensions of those from the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions who have, over the years, made substantial investments in Hyderabad, geographically located within the Telangana region. “Some safeguards have to be put in place,” a Government source said, “to allay the fears of these people that their investments will be safe.” … One suggestion is to make Hyderabad a Union Territory for a period of 10 years…
Some safegaurds “have to be put” in the place — meaning no plans are even ready. The “suggestion” above is totally unacceptable to the Telangana protagonists. How Sonia Gandhi proposes to handle this situation is totally unclear. And there is one immediate question that arises — what is the plan after 10 years? Is it ready? If so, why are they not leaking it, given their propensity to leaking?
Without having such basic plans ready, how on earth do they plan to announce the splitting up of a State? How exactly does the Government of India plan to release a plan for the splitting up of AP (I am not saying bifurcation, because we don’t know if it will be bifurcated or trifurcated!) and take on board all sections of the society? An earlier article on NitiCentral debated these and more points on how the Congress has tangled the Telangana issue in a web!
In recent presentations to the Congress Core Committee, both the Chief Minister of AP and the Congress president of AP have made a strong pitch for a united State. Will the Core Committee go against the wishes of their top leaders in the State? If so, has that been conveyed to these leaders? With this news breaking out, there will again be protest rallies and bandhs in the Andhra and Rayalseema regions – does her highness Sonia Gandhi wish to make an attempt to communicate with these people? Or is she assuming that these protests will fizzle out?


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