The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:
Putting a full stop to continuous leaks (most of which turned out to be duds), the Congress has finally announced its support for a separate State of Telangana.
Chief spokesperson of the Congress, Ajay Maken read out the resolution and General Secretary-in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, took questions from the media and explained how the whole process would be carried out. We will discuss this in the latter part of this article. First let’s take a look at the situation in the State a day after the announcement was made.
The situation in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra
One point is being overwhelmingly made by many people (the famed aam admi) on TV — “Sonia Gandhi did this only to make her son Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister“. One can’t blame them for such strong opinions, for the leaks department of Congress has leaked to the Press that one of the major factors in deciding for Telangana is electoral considerations. It aims to sweep the Telangana region, thereby minimising the loss it would have otherwise accrued from AP.
As anticipated, there is a near-total shutdown in both the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions. Most of the protest rallies are being led by either NGOs or forums that favour a united state. The politicians are yet to come into the picture (in 2009, when PC announced the formation of Telangana, political leaders resigned within hours). One of the reasons political leaders are yet to get involved fully is the third and final phase of elections for panchayats is happening today. There might be other reasons, and they will become clearer if their participation doesn’t pick up in the next 3-4 days.
The situation in Telangana
Quite obviously, there is jubilation everywhere at this decision by the Congress. Sycophants from the Congress have already started praising Sonia Gandhi sky high.
But along with widespread happiness at Tuesday’s development, there is abundant caution being expressed too. All the proponents of Telangana are advising to wait till the Bill passes in the Parliament — only then is the process complete.
The TRS president KCR has demanded more clarity on the modalities of how the common capital will work. He is also open to merging with the Congress once the Bill passes in the Parliament. Until then, no political decision will be made.
Strangely, the victorious smiles were missing when Congress Ministers from Telangana addressed a Press conference last night. Perhaps they are wary about the long process ahead — there is a lot of pressure on them to push through the various stages in an amicable fashion.
The reaction of various political parties
The TDP has merely said that it will wait for an announcement from GoI because what was announced last night was merely a party decision. The CPI and CPI(M) have reacted with caution. The Congress is pretty much clueless — one of their spokespersons has called this resolution a “terrorist act”!
The YSRCP is also clueless on how to react. We are yet to hear anything from the top echelons of that party. The TRS is happy but will wait till the Bill is passed in Parliament before making any further move. The BJP welcomed it, but Narendra Modi’s letter clearly signals that they will focus on exposing the Congress on mishandling this situation. The MIM, which is a very strong proponent of an united State, is yet to speak (as of this writing).
Oddly though, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Kiran Kumar Reddy has not yet spoken to the people of the state (at the time of writing this piece). On a lighter note, a fellow tweeter commented that he is merely following the MMS model!
The entire process
Tuesday’s Press conference was supposed to be a Congress announcement, but Digvijay Singh took it upon himself to explain the entire administrative process that will be carried out. The whole process involved two references to the Assembly: One at the beginning of the process and the other after various modalities are worked out. At both points of time, Digvijay Singh has made it abundantly clear that only the opinion of the Assembly is sought and the result of any vote is not of any relevance.
So, the actual opinion of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly is not binding on the Government of India — even if the opinion is against the very premise of the recommendation — the splitting up of the State. One wonders why even bother asking the Assembly then?
One of the most bizzarre stages of this entire saga is that the Congress (and in all probability the Government of India) has not yet decided on the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. They now wish to buy 10 years of time to let people fight and decide on this.
The operative part of the entire process is the setting up of a Group of Ministers to decide on various modalities like planning for a capital city, resource-sharing (revenue, water, capital for 10 years) etc. It is totally unclear at this point of time how the Congress plans to achieve an agreement in the middle of the acrimony mentioned above!
As Narendra Modi has pointed out in his letter, the Congress has made no attempts to bring about a uniform opinion within their party itself! And when the time comes up for discussions on these important issues, infighting within the Congress will only kill the discussions!
If there is no consensus, will the Government of India still go ahead with the split? If not, how does it want to tackle the issue? No clue yet.
Some newspapers have suggested that it will take a minimum of 215 days to get this done. Apparently, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that they can complete it within 180 days (another of those leaks!). Hundred and eighty days mean six months. Elections to AP Asembly are due in nine months. Under such duress, how does the Congress plan to make the process smooth? No clue yet!