Centre dilly dallies on Telangana

Hyderabad crippled as stir intensifies

 
By M Suchitra
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre seems to be dragging its feet on the issue of forming a separate state of Telangana. Even as pressure mounts, both within the Congress and in Andhra Pradesh, for an early solution, the Centre on October 1 said it would need more time  for further consultations.



Union  finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government was not in a position to take immediate decision since the issue of bifurcation of the state was complicated. He said this after meeting with defence minister A K Antony, All India Congress Committee general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to discuss a report on Telangana submitted by Azad. On Monday,  prime minister Manmohan Singh assured members of Parliament from Telangana who met him that their demands would be placed before Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party core committee.

Pranab Mukherjee said the government was not in a position to take immediate decision since the issue of bifurcation of the state was complicated
On Monday, prime minister Manmohan Singh assured members of Parliament from Telangana who met him that their demands would be placed before Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party core committee
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) have threatened to intensify the ongoing Sakala Janula Samme (general strike by all sections of people, including government employees) in the state capital, Hyderabad, and the other nine districts in Telangana region
Frequent bandhs (shut downs), rail and road blockades, scheduled and unscheduled power cuts lasting hours, and buses keeping off the road since the beginning of the strike on September 13 have hit common people hard
 
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), which are spearheading the movement for a separate state, have, meanwhile, threatened to intensify the ongoing Sakala Janula Samme (general strike by all sections of people, including government employees) in the state capital, Hyderabad, and the other nine districts in Telangana region, if the decision is delayed.

“The Telangana people are not ready to believe in committees and commissions constituted by the UPA government,” said M Kodandaram, chairperson of TJAC, in response to the Central government’s reluctance to take a decision. “The centre should immediately announce the formation of separate Telangana,” he added.

The Sakala Janula Samme that started on September 13 has virtually paralysed normal life and administration in Telangana region, including Hyderabad.

The atmosphere in the city is charged. Frequent bandhs (shut downs), rail and road blockades, scheduled and unscheduled power cuts lasting hours, and buses keeping off the road since the beginning of the strike have hit the common people hard.  The city administration has come to a grinding halt with thin attendance in the government offices. Doctors and lawyers belonging to Telangana region abtained from hospitals and courtrooms; schools and colleges remained shut.

Coal production in Singareni Collieries has been severely affected due to the shut down of coal mines in Warangal, Karimnagar and Adilabad districts since most of the workers are on strike. A 10-hour power cut has been imposed in villages and six hours in all mandal headquarters and a four-hour power cut in the cities. Agriculture in most of the rural areas in the state, which heavily depend on borewells , has severly affected due to power shortage. All industrial consumers, who have been  reeling under the one-day power holiday, will now have to face a two-day power holiday, apart from power restriction in the evenings between 6.30pm and 10.30pm.

'Delay unjustified after Srikrishna committee report'

When the pro-Telangana groups say there have been enough political consultations in the past few years, and further consultations are not needed, they have a point. It has been nine months since the Srikrishna Committee, appointed by the Central government last year to look into the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, submitted its report. The committee had held elaborate meetings and consultations with all political parties in the state. A number of organisations in all the three regions of the state—coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana—had already submitted their views and arguments regarding bifurcation.
 
Political observers say the Central government has aggravated the problem.  Union home minister P Chidambaram had announced in December, 2009 the the process of “forming a separate Telangana will be initiated and an appropriate resolution will be passed in the Andhra Pradesh assembly”.   But immediately after this statement, the UPA government backtracked on the promise.

“Trust is completely shattered,” says M Gopinatha Reddy, a faculty member of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Economics and Social Studies. 

When a reluctant Telangana, which had a totally different cultural identity, was merged with Andhra to form Andhra Pradesh on linguistic lines in 1956, there was an agreement that income from Telangana would be reserved for the development of the Telangana region. It was also agreed that if the chief minister was to be from Andhra region, then the deputy chief minister would be from Telangana and vice versa and that two of the five portfolios of home, revenue, planning, finance, commerce and Industry would go to ministers from the Telangana region.

“But the agreement was breached by all chief ministers, starting with the very first chief minister, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy,” says Reddy.
It has become extremely hard even for ministers, MLAs and MPs  to set foot in their constituencies in Telangana districts if they don't support the movement. A few MLAs from the ruling Congress and the opposition Telugu Desam Party have resigned and joined K Chandrasekhara Rao's TRS. The latest in the list is Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, the state infrastructure and investment minister. Many more may follow suit.

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