Friday, October 18, 2013

It's getting dark, it's getting violent...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Reproducing it here for reference.
On October 4, the Home Minister of India Sushil Kumar Shinde told us that the GoM on AP bifurcation will submit it’s detailed report and recommendations within 45 days. It has been three days. There is no word on the members of GoM, when they will be meeting, when they will be visiting AP etc. We have 42 days remaining for the report promised by the Home Minister of India, and we have no clue on something as basic as the members of the GoM.
This is not the first time Shinde is blurting out random deadlines. In December 2012, he promised to give a decision on Telangana in one month. As the deadline was nearing, we were told (by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shinde) that one month does not mean 30 days, it might also mean two months! Recently, Shinde said that the Cabinet note on Telangana will be ready in 20 days. It took more than 30 days to come up with the note (that turned out be a clumsy one). So should we take this 45-day deadline with a pinch of salt too?
It has been 69 days since the CWC resolution was announced to the world. Sixty-nine days since lakhs of Government employees from various departments went on strike. To compound the woes of the citizens, the electricity employees in Seemandhra have now joined the strike. With this, thousands of villages have plunged into darkness. Many districts went without power for a whole day yesterday.
The Railways (and thereby the passengers) was also severely affected. Power cuts in hospitals across the regions further compounded the problem. The employee unions have been unrelenting so far. Their only demand — keep the State united. If this strike continues, it is being estimated that there will be a problem with the southern grid too. This sad turn of events is depressing to note. Many people are sincerely hoping that the electricity department unions will call off this strike in view of the hardships being faced by just one day of the strike so far.
One of the hotbeds of this agitation has been Vizianagaram district. The primary reason being that this is where the PCC chief, Botsa Satyanarayana comes from. Almost every day, there have been attempts to gherao his house and other properties. With every passing day, the participation in this dharna/gherao also increases. The situation got out of control after the Union Cabinet decided to go ahead with the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Suddenly, there was an outpour of anger against Botsa for his ineffective leadership. He is being seen as someone who is toeing the line drawn by the high command in Delhi whilst announcing support for a united state in Hyderabad at the same time!
Agitated crowds have resorted to stone-pelting. Police have had to strike back with lathis.
The situation only went from bad to worse. The RAF was called in to rein in the stone-pelters. For the first time in the history of the town, a curfew was imposed and shoot-at-sight orders were issued. The commonfolk of the town got very agitated because of this and came out on the streets to vent their anger agains Botsa. Colleges owned by him were vandalised too. Some of his properties were set on fire. The police went on an overdrive and started forcibly closing shops and vegetable markets. Central police forces randomly beat up women and youth. These acts further fuelled the situation. Visuals of Central police beating up a young man and the local police stopping them from doing so were very telling.
Botsa has alleged that this is a conspiracy by leaders not of his caste! He has indirectly blamed the Chief Minister of the State for these attacks on his properties. It is depressing to note that the PCC chief and the CM are not even on the same page when the State is engulfed in such a severe crisis. The infighting in the Congress is nothing new for the people of the state, but in times of such extreme crisis, it is frustrating to watch them still trying to make petty gains.
A Congress MLA and brother of the Finance Minister of the State Anam Vivekananda Reddy has castigated Digvijay Singh in the strongest possible terms. He called him a man who destroyed MP and is now out to destroy AP! Meanwhile, the honourable Digvijay Singh has announced that during the 10 years that Hyderabad will take to become the common capital, it will be governed either by the Governor or by the Central Government. The Government does not say anything but the party spokesman goes about announcing decisions that have no value! If Digvijay Singh knows everything, why bother with the GoM?
Our worst fears have started coming true. It’s getting dark, it’s getting violent, and we still have to put up with Digvijay give us sermons.


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