Friday, October 18, 2013

Sonia’s reconstituted GoM makes things worse

The following article has been written for Niti Central. Reproducing it here for reference.
On October 4, Sushil Kumar Shinde told us that the Group of Ministers on Andhra Pradesh birfurcation will submit it’s report in 45 days. On the night of October 8, we get the news that the GoM has been “reconstituted”! The original GoM, according to the Cabinet note, had 10 members in it. Members were supposed to have been chosen according to the Ministries that will get impacted – Home, Finance, Law, Water resources, HRD etc.
The “reconstituted” GoM now has six members in it, plus one Minister who will be a “special invitee”. Let’s take a look at this reconstituted GoM now:
1. The GoM is supposed to study and advise on legal matters. The original GoM had the Law Minister. The reconstituted GoM does NOT have the Law Minister.
2. The GoM is supposed to look into water-sharing. The original GoM had the Water Resources Minister. The reconstituted GoM does NOT.
3. The GoM is supposed to look into power-sharing. The original GoM had the Power Minister. The reconstituted GoM does NOT.
I guess you get the picture – Ministers of HRD, Transport etc have all been asked to stay away from the “reconstituted” GoM. So who are the new members?
1. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad
2. Oil Minister Veerappa Moily
3. Defence Minister AK Anthony
4. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh
What, pray will a Health Minister do in a GoM that has to decide on modalities of splitting up of a State? Or the Oil Minister? If the Rural Development minister is a part of the GoM, then why is the Urban Development Minister not?
Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappa Moily have been chosen primarily because they have been Congress general secretaries in-charge of Andhra Pradesh! Their Ministries have nothing to do with the modalities of splitting the State. Why is the Congress hell-bent on giving this whole thing a political colour? Why can’t they follow the recommendations of their own Cabinet? Is this the value they accord to the institution of the Cabinet? What does “special invitee” status to Minister in PMO, Narayanaswamy even mean?
It has been the norm that these 10 Ministries will be part of a State reorganisation, but then why is Sonia Gandhi not allowing that to happen? Why this contempt towards Andhra Pradesh? And before you accuse me of over-reacting, please note that her own Ministers and elected representatives are disappointed at the manner in which she is going about splitting up the State.
Meanwhile, the honourable Digvijay Singh released two letters to the media. One by the TDP in which they have explicitly given their support to the formation of Telangana. Another by YSRCP that said it is only the Centre that has the power to decide, and YSRCP respects the sentiments of Telangana. ‘National’ media played up these letters as if it was a brand new revelation by Digvijay.
The fact of the matter is that these letters have been in public domain from a long time. Every single person in Andhra Pradesh knows about the stand that TDP has taken. Chandrababu Naidu himself read the letter out in 2008, when the party decided to support Telangana. Why then is Digvijay resorting to such dramatics? Neither the TDP nor the YSRCP are leading the protests in Seemandhra. They are merely reacting to the outpour of anger.
The constant refrain of Sonia Gandhi’s office-bearers has been that the TDP has declared support to Telangana thereby paving way for a easy decision by the Congress. If the Congress needs TDP’s help with every single decision, they might as well transfer power to the TDP!
The anger amongst the people is because of the manner in which the split is being carried out. This simple truth seems to be missing the intellectuals of the Congress. The State is still reeling under massive power crisis because of strike by electricity employees. Buses have been off roads for 70 days. Seven lakh Government employees and two lakh teachers have been on strike for more than 60 days. Not one step that the Congress has taken since the CWC announcement 72 days back, has inspired any confidence. It is scary to think of the future of Andhra Pradesh.


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