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Resolving Telangana
by Dr. Rajinder Puri Bookmark and Share

The Telangana demand is stuck like a fishbone in the government’s throat. It can’t be swallowed and it can’t be spat out. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is wholly responsible for creating this problem. It is not only haunting this government but if not addressed effectively it will continue to haunt future governments. 

On November 29, 2010 it was pointed out in these columns: “After the death of Rajshekhar Reddy the prevailing political dynastic culture expressed itself as was expected. The late CM’s son, Jagan Mohan Reddy, was an elected MP. The sentiment in the Andhra Congress was overwhelmingly in favour of making him the successor. For no convincing reason Mrs. Sonia Gandhi resisted that move. Perhaps a younger leader than Rahul Gandhi with the strong support base of one of India’s larger states solidly behind him injected envy mixed with insecurity in 10 Jan path… Mrs. Gandhi tried to defuse Jagan Mohan’s strength by recklessly announcing a separate Telangana state without laying proper ground work for an all India policy change. As a result not only did she create a political mess by destabilizing Andhra, the most important Congress bastion in the country, she also alienated the followers of Jagan Mohan Reddy… Events over the past months show that (Jagan Mohan Reddy) has acquired enough strength to create his own mass based party… MLAs will line up to join him… Sonia Gandhi has struck the last nail in the coffin of the Andhra Congress.”

After protests mounted in Telangana the government appointed the Justice Sri Krishna Commission to prepare a report on the feasibility of creating a Telangana state. The Report was released last December. It offered six options and no solution. Worse, it contained a secret report within it that categorically opposed the creation of a separate Telangana and urged the government to mobilize the media to oppose a separate Telangana! That secret report too became public.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. How can the government extricate itself, and the nation, from this intractable problem? There is only one way it can be done. The government should make an announcement containing the following provisions:

First: The government must state that any change in Andhra cannot be contemplated in isolation from the rest of the country. Decisions cannot be taken on an ad hoc basis as has been done in the past. The government therefore must announce the creation of a second States Reorganization Commission to address demands for smaller states throughout the country. The Commission would have to announce its decisions by the end of one year. 

Secondly: Meanwhile the government must categorically announce that at the end of one year by when the Commission’s report will be submitted, a separate Telangana state will be constituted. The government should be prepared to make this commitment through a resolution in Parliament.

Thirdly: The government must also allow the proposed Commission to determine the future of all the major metropolitan capitals including Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Patna and the rest. It will in the light of the experience of Chandigarh and Delhi examine the feasibility of declaring all these capitals as city states hosting offices of the new states arising from the bifurcation of the existing states. That should not preclude small states constructing new capitals.

Fourthly: The creation of smaller states will be achieved only within the boundaries of existing states after discussion and consensus among the respective leaders of the states to be bifurcated.  

Doubtless there would be opposition to this proposal from elements in Andhra. But that opposition would be neutralized by the wide support for the proposal from other parts of the country. Apart from Andhra, there are demands for smaller states in UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bengal, Gujarat and J&K. These demands are at present dormant and non-violent. Must the authorities respond only after agitations break out one after another causing unnecessary deaths along the way? A measured national policy to reorganize states is overdue. The major metropolitan capitals have acquired a character of their own to justify city states. Smaller states allow more devolution of power. Smaller states would also make the centre more powerful. If the government were to propose an all India approach much of the resentment in Andhra for being singled out for bifurcation would subside. 

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