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Is President's rule the only option left, for now?

I was hoping to tackle the issue of Telangana Vs. Samaikya Andhra (Unified AP) from various angles today.However, a discussion on the economic and cultural issues and the 'victimhood narrative' of Telangana, Rayalaseema and Kalinga Andhra has to wait, because the political issues have come to fore again.

Before reviewing the current political scenario, I just want to make it clear regarding where my affinities lie.The question of separate statehood has surely become an emotional issue for many people.And I don't want the emotions to cloud over a dispassionate analysis of the issues involved.

I am 37.5 years old and lived for 11 years each in Telangana (Bodhan, Mahboobnagar and Hyderabad) and Rayalaseema (Nandyal and Kadapa).I have also spent a few early years in Vijayawada and my wife hails from Guntur district, not to speak of the many friends I have from all parts of the state.I am sure there are lakhs of people like me who straddle all three areas of the state. To expect us to choose one area over the other is not just 'divisive', it is also impractical.

Having said that, I have genuine reasons for wanting Andhra Pradesh to remain as-is, without any bi or tri-furcation. But these arguments, as I have mentioned earlier, should wait for a few days more. Right now, we are looking at a real possibility of President's Rule in AP.

Question 1: Why has it come to this pass?

Question 2: Who is benefiting (or will benefit) from this situation?

Question 3: What options do we have as people? What could be a win-win solution for all of us?

In one of my earlier blog posts, I mentioned that Aditya, Assistant Editor of Andhra Jyothy daily, seems to be one of those rare journalists these days, who seem to combine excellence in investigation with a neutral approach.I was awaiting Aditya's take on the Telangana issue - the whys and wherefores of the political developments especially- and he has not disappointed me.

In a brilliant piece of analysis, Aditya laid bare the genesis of the current stalemate, and has spared no one.Here's the link to the article, if you can read Telugu.

If you are not comfortable reading Telugu, please read my summary below:

"The Congress high command, with the strategic vision of making Rahul Gandhi the PM in 2014, has accepted the reality that in AP, after YSR's demise, the Congress party is losing its hold over the masses, and is also not in full control of the state unit.It has brought the Telangana pawn into play with two aims: to control an increasingly intransigent YS Jagan, and to eliminate the threat of Chandra Babu Naidu's TDP, which is steadily recovering its eroded base.Naidu has also demonstrated his ability earlier to act as a catalyst for unifying diverse opposition parties at the national level.

By dividing the state, the high command sought to weaken the Reddy community's political clout, and there by weaken Jagan.A separate Telangana will also mean the TDP loses relevance in the new state and will have to fight for survival in the Andhra state.To achieve these aims, the high command opened a channel directly with KCR (who was down and out after the recent poll reverses and large scale migration from TRS to INC), and took care not to involve either CM Rosaiah or any other Congress leaders from AP. Importantly, even the AP state police and intelligence were also not taken into confidence.

The INC coterie around Sonia comprising Ahmed Patel, Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and A.K.Antony took up the implementation of this plan, with Ahmed Patel playing the key role.

However, as the plan was not divulged to the CM or state police, these people acted independently, resulting in some unintended consequences.Even though the high command kept intervening in the background and instructed the state govt on the next steps without indicating the overall plan, the events went out of hand, primarily because KCR, who was confined to the jail, lost communication with the high command in between and started suspecting that he is simply being exploited by the coterie.

As KCR's fast went beyond a week, the state govt tried to intervene through mediators.But Rosaiah received strict indications from the high command that he need not worry about the agitation because it (high command) is aware of the situation and will take the required steps at the right time.Rosaiah, who was kept out of any of the important discussions, then decided to just keep quiet.

Finally, when he was called to New Delhi, but was asked to wait outside while the Congress Core Committee had its deliberations, Rosaiah sent a Note to the Union Cabinet and INC high command with his recommendations.

Rosaiah was eventually called in, and asked his views about the law and order situation in AP.The CM provided the state intelligence reports that said over 3 lakh people were expected to congregate in Hyderabad for the Chalo Assembly rally and the violence could result in 2000 deaths. The core committee advised the CM to 'leave everything to us, go home and give a glass of lime water to KCR to make him call off the fast'. When Rosaiah refused to meet KCR (Kumar: Some spine finally !), he was simply asked to get back to Hyderabad and await the decision.

When Chidambaram announced the decision to create Telangana at 11.30 PM, it took KCR and the rest of the Telangana activists by surprise.It also shocked the Seema and Coastal AP leaders into disbelief because all along they felt that any decision for Telangana would only be made after due consultations with all three regions. They implicitly trusted the INC high command to follow this process than take a unilateral decision."

Wow ! that is one hell of an article by Aditya, isn't it? It fits in exactly with the thinking process of Congress' Delhi leaders.

But do I have any sympathies for Cong leaders from rest of AP? Any for TDP at all? NO.

1.All along, the Cong leaders of Rayalaseema and Coastal AP were asked to lie low and not utter any thing against Telangana.Especially, people like Undavalli Arun Kumar and Lagadapati Rajagopal have had their data and arguments ready to prove that the 'victimhood theory' is just a theory and has no basis in reality. But they kept quiet because high command did not want any one to voice their opinions.These leaders lacked the spine and clarity of values to fight for a cause they believed in (a unified AP), and they are all regretting their silence now.I donno..may be its too late in the day.

2.The TDP supremo, Chandra Babu Naidu, seems to be believe in the 'image' that he is a master strategist when it comes to political moves.Looks to me, he has not learnt his lessons, even after YSR upstaged him several times.Now that YSR is no longer around, CBN had the chance to at least come clean on the issues and take a principled stand.He did not do that because he was really not sure which way the wind would blow. The Cong high command literally toyed with him by keeping silent on their preference.Naidu is now a committed pro-AP person again, and is on the verge of losing all credibility. However, all is not lost for him, yet.He can rise to the situation, if he gets rid of the tendency to look for short term gains all the time.

3.It is of no use discussing the stands of BJP, PRP, Lok Satta and the like.These parties and their leaders are not of any relevance in this issue now.

_______________________

I think I have made a reasonable attempt to answer the first two questions I have raised earlier in this post. Now for the third question: What now?

1.The UPA Govt, after weighing all the pros and cons, may want to ride over the current crisis (of their own making), by putting the Telangana issue on a backburner.It may just buy them some time. But what they have done, through their cynical manipulation of an emotive issue, is to push AP back to the early 1970s. The whole state is divided now on regional basis and people may find it difficult to forget and become normal again, especially with the 24-hr news channels making the most of the crisis and inflaming the passions of people.

2.President's rule is an option but again it will only delay the inevitable.No one wants fresh elections, but a threat of assembly dissolution may also not bring the MLAs on board quickly.Instead, it could snowball into a bigger issue, threatening even the UPA Govt at the centre. The high command has to do a very fine balancing act now.

3.The agitators on the unified AP front seem to have no clue on what to do now.They are wasting their energies by doing rail roko, rasta roko, burning buses and vandalising public and private properties.If any impatient Police Officer opens fire on one of these mobs, the situation is bound to worsen.

4.Frankly, I find it counter productive that the pro-AP folks are agitating in Rayalaseema and Coastal AP.What is the point? Any way, the masses in these areas are for unified AP. Instead, the energies should be creatively focused on Telangana.

Here's what I suggest they do:

A.Get all the Tollywood actors, actresses and other creative people (writers, playwrights, dancers etc) to form groups and travel around Telangana, mobilising public opinion for a unified state.It is a well known fact that the entire Telugu film industry desires a status quo. Also, popular poets like C.Narayana Reddy should come out openly in favor of a unified AP.

B.Both Chandra Babu Naidu and YS Jagan should join hands and bring all pro-AP Telangana leaders from both their sides, to work towards changing the public perception on this issue. It will call for great statesmanship and temporary blurring of political rivalries, but what is more important than the future of the state? Of course, once the aims are achieved, they can contest against each other on developmental planks and let the public decide who they want.

C.Let there be a public debate where not just leaders of political parties, but also intellectuals from all walks of life take part.Let us have both sides present their cases.If, as being claimed, the Telangana activists can present a convincing case with facts (and not emotions), it will at least become easier to go separate ways amicably than the current bad blood. Undavalli Arun Kumar has, this morning, asked for such a debate in the AP assembly, but I think it should happen in public space as well.

D.Lastly, there can be no question that if a Telangna state is formed, Hyderabad would be part of that state.But that should not mean Hyderabad will be restricted for Telangana people.Let the Twin Cities continue on their journey to become global cities, and drive the economic growth of the catchment area.Allow people from any where in the country or the world, to come and engage in fruitful economic activity in Hyderabad.Telangana activists should know that big cities like Hyderabad really belong to the nation, and not just a local identity.We are not as cheap as the MNS folks, are we?

I am hoping that in the next few days, the political scenario will become a little stable, allowing me to spend some time on investigating the claims of under development and discrimination on all sides.And try to form my own opinion on what is really best for the state, and in general, the entire small states argument vis-a-vis, administrative efficiency and accessibility to people.Local self-governance is what I truly believe in.But a new state has to make sense too.

Comments

Rahul said…
Kumar,

The conspiracy theories of yours or your ilk may or may not be true. The fact is at the all party meeting conducted by CM, which was to gather oppositions input, the leaders said they will support Telangana resolution when tabled. The legislators when asked for their input said they would abide by the high command decision and have full faith in their judgment.
Now when you look at the reactions of the very same people after the decision was made, it's pathetic.
You conveniently forgot the above happenings.

I again re-iterate these are the exact same set of politicians and people who would not help others until they belonged to their caste. Everyone knows caste affiliations run deep in this part of the world and the talk of unity is blinding ourselves. Right from the students level in colleges (ex. Sidharta) to the telugu organizations in US, it runs along caste lines. Where is the unity of telugu people. To delve into the caste politics is discussion for another day but talk of unity when caste affiliations, discriminations, and regional feelings run deep is again blinding ourselves.

The reasons for United Andhra atleast in the political and media circles is not genuine. It's more driven by the business and property investments made in Hyderabad. These politicians fear they will have to shift base if the state gets seperated and probably handling investments will become difficult. Do you think they care about the people and the unity.

Your call for statemenship to be shown by Chandrababu and Jagan is cunning and laughable. Lets get united now, and once we make our investments and ourselves safe we can fight later concept. Is this statesmanship? Statesmanship is going beyond the narrow political trappings, keeping your word at all times (not change it often) and living by it. That has been our culture. Where does Chandrababu stand now. Jagan supporters, as you said in other forum, are playing to the script. Is this statesmanship my friend? Time and again people of Telangana have been cheated by promises of seperate statehood and when that dream is near and a reality, you see the personalities come out to safeguard investments in the name of united andhra.

Instead of addressing genuine concerns and making constructive suggestions to the problem, your call to film buffoons to take part in gimmickry campaigns in Telangana is again laughable and exposes where your loyalties lie. Not towards addressing the problem but probably to side-track the issue and cheat people of there rights.
Kumar Narasimha said…
Dear Rahul,

I understand how emotive this issue is and appreciate some of your passionate questions.

"The legislators when asked for their input said they would abide by the high command decision and have full faith in their judgment."

I did mention this point and that is why I am not in sympathy with the plight of Cong MLAs and CBN.High command asked them to trust its judgement and Cong MLAs assumed it would be for unified AP.And I even said its probably too late in the day.And I talked about CBN losing credibility too.

-My call to CBN and Jagan to unite forces is precisely because I am in favor of unified AP and I want the two most powerful leaders of AP to bury their differences and save the state.I am not apologetic about this at all.I have the same right to prefer a unified AP (I explained how I straddle all three areas of the state), as you have, to prefer a Telangana.

"Time and again people of Telangana have been cheated by promises of seperate statehood."

I think you are being presumptuous here by claiming a desire of certain sections of Telangana elite, as one that represents all Telangana people.We are a linguistic state, and the language is more than a 1000 years old.Words such as Telangana, Circar, Rayalaseema originated during the British rule.Telangana and Rayalaseema, in specific, are constructs that originated in the 20th century.

Marri Chenna Reddy shut down his Telangana shop the moment he became CM.If separate statehood was such a pan-telangana feeling, how was he allowed to bury the cause then?

KCR raised the Telangana issue when CBN denied him a minister post.YSR and KCR made use of the Telangana issue against CBN in 2004, but Cong actually won because of anti-incumbency and not Telangana sentiment. That is why, YSR, being a seasoned politician, jettisoned the issue immediately after assuming power in 2004, and completely discarded it in 2009, and yet did very well in Telangana in 2009.If, as you say, Telangana is such an appealing issue with the aam junta in those districts, how did KCR and the rest lose relevance, till this fast drama?

-I also don't see any need to feel apologetic about calling artistes to reach out to the public, for a cause they believe in.

If Telangana was a genuine aspiration, it would have happened long back.It is just the elite and the disgruntled who see this issue as their only way to get power.But in many societies, the vocal minority out shouts the silent majority.

-However you have every right to want a separate state for reasons that appeal to you. I respect that position and would understand even if you have to do a deal with the devil as KCR & Co seem to be doing now. I don't have solutions other than saying, lets ask the people what they want.And that we can have a public debate about it.If you have any other constructive suggestions, I will be happy to hear them.
Rahul said…
Hi Kumar,

Few opinions from my side.

People of the region have been betrayed before (Marri Chenna Reddy) and do view TRS with suspicion. Performance of TRS is not in anyway the indicator of the Telangana sentiment. If you remember the drama KCR did in the last five years, resigning and getting elected twice, indecisiveness before the election whether to align with Cong(back channel negotiations), TDP or PRP, people were clearly vexed with him and could see through his anxiety about winning more seats than really care about the sentiment. Do not equate his performance to the sentiment.

Betrayal by by-gone Telangana politicians was unpardonable. It was straight forward opportunistic. Spinelessness of the current politicians(until now I think) in faithfully obeying there masters (Andhra & Rayalseema) is one other reason for people's sentiment not getting properly represented.

This movement now is being driven forward by the intellectuals, students and farmers. Anguish is about people not getting it's proper share of rights in water and jobs. Not about the politicians getting power. It is a shame how administration tries to suppress the rightful demands, which is the implementation of the gentleman's agreement and subsequent government GO's. Ever tried to know why these don't get implemented? It is a justful demand.

Unity is about people sticking together in thick and thin. Not two places sticking together. One region says it's innovative, potray's other region as lazy. I again ask the prejudices different regions have, is this unity? Caste politics and favors, is this unity?
Anonymous said…
where is this other forum you guys speak of ?
Rahul: I had a question for you on sepiamutiny

http://www.ndtv.com/news/videos/video_player.php?id=1184711

1. KCR's son refuses to stop using or clarifying "Bhago andhrawalon"

2. We will only kick out people who hamper us. No idea how they will pick them out.

3. Owaisi predictability worried, who comes next after Andhrawalon.

4. KCR's son using H1B and quotas analogy should make people shudder.

5. KCR's son repeatedly makes the claim it is not *just* a development issue.
-v
Kumar Narasimha said…
Anon,

I think Rahul was referring to my previous blog post.

Btw, there is an interesting discussion going on at Satyameva Jayate on 'small states'. I posted some of my views there as well.

http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/12/12/smaller-states/
Chaitanya said…
The word Trilinga Desam refers to the region between the three lingas (linga is symbolic of Param Shiva, Para Brahma, the Absolute eternal reality) in the places where Shiva shrines of eminence are located. Kaleshwara, Bheemeshwara and Mallikharjuna are three names, among many, of Parama Shiva. The word Telugu is derived from Trilinga. The Mallikarjuna Linga of Srisailam of Kurnool District, the Bheemeswara Linga of Daksharamam of East Godavari District and the Kaleswara Linga of Kaleswaram in Karimnagar District have together given Andhradesa it's name "Trilingadesa".

I think telangana separatist leaders should understand the history first!

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