The following article was written for Niti Central. Reproducing it here for reference.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
An old saying that resonates well for any age. On October 1, the Prime Minister of the country told the media that he will seek to know from Rahul Gandhi why his outburst “had to be done in the manner in which it was done”. There was no inclination of him consenting to the withdrawal of the ordinance. Rahul Gandhi met the PM on the morning of October 2, for 25 minutes. Then the wheels started moving very fast! By the evening of the same day, a special Cabinet meeting was called and within 20 minutes the Ordinance was withdrawn.
Within 24 hours, we were witness to the spectacle of the Prime Minister going out of his way to convene a special Cabinet meet only to withdraw this ordinance. You might argue what’s wrong with that? Here’s my point — there was another Cabinet meet scheduled on October 3! The Prime Minister could not wait for just one more day to withdraw this ordinance – that is the power of having a strong will – in this case, his will was to impress the Gandhi scion!
So why are we talking about will and way? The Union Cabinet met on the October 3 and discussed
five different issues.
One of them was ‘Creation of a new State of Telangana’. Maybe because I am from Andhra Pradesh, I feel this way – but shouldn’t there have been a separate Cabinet session where only the bifurcation of the State was discussed? Isn’t it important enough to have an exclusive meet devoted to it?
For 65 days, Andhra Pradesh has been burning; 65 days since CWC resolved to ask the Government to form a separate State of Telangana. As always, the Congress gave very little clarity on the modalities of the bifurcation then. We were told that a Cabinet note will go into great detail on the nitty gritty of the bifurcation.
Because the Central Government was taking forever to come up with the note, we figured this note will be as comprehensive as it can get. Sixty-five days is surely enough time to come up with a detailed note on such an important subject. Let’s take a look at the Press release after the cabinet meet ended. The full text is available here (not that there is too much to read). The summary of the text is as follows:
A Group of Ministers will be set up to go into various issues that will need to be tackled.
Believe it or not, that’s it! That’s what Sushil Kumar Shinde took 65 days to come up with! It took them 65 days to merely cut and paste portions of the CWC resolution and reword them? Because the incompetence of this Government is incredible, I started searching for the full note of the Home Ministry. It is not yet available on their website (or maybe I couldn’t find it). Telugu newspaper Eenadu though, has reproduced key portions of the note. The brief summary is this:
1. Historical perspective
2. Sharing of resources (Doesn’t provide modalities, just mentions what resources will have to be shared. Says that it has to be decided how these resources will be shared. Genius!)
3. Public representatives (Number of seats for MPs, MLA etc)
4. Service rules for employees and officers.
5. Grants from the Centre (doesn’t tell how much the Centre will give. Merely says Centre will decide later. Genius again!)
6. A Group of Ministers to be formed. The GoM to recommend on various modalities, including how Hyderabad will be governed as a common capital, financial resources for new capital, sharing of various resources etc.)
7. Various statistics (split of resources, split of population, split of Assembly seats etc.)
There is not a single new thing that we learnt after 65 days. It took them 65 days to merely assemble already publicly available data. The only point which was decisive in the note is this: “The new State will be named Telangana”. From the past 65 days, lakhs of people have been demanding clarity on various topics. Even the Chief Minister has publicly chided his own High Command and demanded clarity on various topics. After 65 days, the only clarity we get is that a GoM will decide!
There is further confusion on the timeline by when the GoM will submit its recommendations. The note apparently says 90 days. The genius that is Sushil Kumar Shinde apparently said it will be six weeks. Really? Does he really expect us to believe that after taking 65 days to merely consolidate publicly available data, he will now lead the GoM to actually resolve all issues in six weeks? Now we have to wait for 45 to 90 more days to get clarity.
Sushil Kumar Shinde also says that the whole process of State-formation will be complete in six months – which means by April 2014. Elections to the State Assembly are due in May 2014. Under such a surcharged atmosphere, why does the custodian of law & order of the country want to push something so serious so close to election date? Or is that the gameplan? Somehow postpone the formation and then (as they always do) blame the Opposition parties for the delay? Either way, it is absolutely pathetic to note that the planning of such an important subject is being handled in this deplorable manner.
There is no clarity on whether the Cabinet decision last night will be sent to the Assembly. We were earlier told that the Cabinet note is the first step. After the President signs it, the note will be sent to the Assembly. Once the Centre receives the recommendation back, the GoM will work on the Bill. That Bill will again come back to the Assembly. The Cabinet note does not mention any of this now! It merely says a GoM will look into all issues. Is the UPA afraid of sending this to the Assembly? Does it really want to split the State without even consulting the Assembly?
What happened to the famed Anthony committee which was billed as the solution to this problem? The Prime Minister himself told us that the Anthony Committee will look into all issues. Has it even bothered to start writing a report? Why was this charade imposed on the Congress leaders of the state? Why hasn’t the committee not visited the state yet? At one point of time we were told that the Cabinet note will come in only after Anthony committee submits its report! Hell, Sushil Shinde himself told on the afternoon of October 3 that Telangana note will not be discussed in the Cabinet!
There is definitely going to increased widespread anger at this arrogance of UPA. Forty-eight to seventy-two-hour bandh calls have already been given, and there is near total shutdown yet again. The resignations drama has again begun. A few MPs resigned to the party. A Few Ministers are “contemplating” quitting. The Chief Minister apparently has now taken a stand that he will make no more trips to Delhi.
For 65 days, most of the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions have been shut down. Seven lakh Government employees are on strike. Two lakh teachers are on strike. Various other Government unions are on strike. Buses have not been plying for nearly two months. Governance has nearly come to a complete halt — with ministers only discussing this issue day in and day out. Lakhs of people are out on the street daily — protesting in various forms. For the past 65 days, not a single soothing statement from either the Prime Minister or Sonia Gandhi.
From the Cabinet note yesterday, we expected some semblance of clarity; some acknowledgement of the protests erupting in AP; some soothing words; some assurances and above all some leadership. Instead, what do we get? A “detailed” note that details the various details the GoM will have to decide upon!
Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary responses. For example, Why doesn’t Sushil Kumar Shinde find time to visit AP and try to assuage the fear of various people? Why doesn’t the Prime Minister or Sonia Gandhi find it fit to do the same? Why can’t one of them stay put in Andhra Pradesh for a week and try communicating to the people of the State? We have seen how the PM and Sonia Gandhi responded the extraordinary situation of Rahul Gandhi’s outburst. That’s why I remembered the old adage at the beginning of this article.
The clear lack of will is costing the people of the Andhra Pradesh dearly. These are the same people who sent 30 MPs in 2004 and 2009 so that Sonia Gandhi may rule supreme.