Congress, allies approve statehood for Telangana

Hyderabad to be common capital for 10 years

 
By M Suchitra
Published: Tuesday 30 July 2013

After being a part of Andhra Pradesh for more than half-a century and decades of struggle, Telangana is going to get separate statehood. Following meetings held on Tuesday, the United Progressive Alliance coordination committee and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) have given their approval for carving out a new state from Andhra Pradesh. The modalities of separation will be decided in the coming days; Hyderabad will remain the common capital of Telangana and Seemandhra.

Announcing the decision after the CWC meeting, Congress general secretary Digvijaya singh said 10 districts of the region would be part of the new state. He said a group of Union ministers could look at whether more districts can be added to the proposed state. He asserted that the decision was not taken under any political pressure. "The decision has been taken after the widest possible consultations and after taking into account the chequered history of the demand for a a separate state of Telangana since 1956,” he said.

Long road to statehood
 
While announcing the decision of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to endorse carving out of a separate Telangana state, Congress general secretary Digviaya Singh said that the state would be a reality within three to four months. In fact, a lengthy process awaits the formation of Telangana. First, the Union Cabinet has to take a decision and it will have to be conveyed to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.

Then the state Assembly will have to either accept or reject the decision of the Cabinet. Based on the Assembly's decision, the Union Cabinet will set up a group of ministers to decide the formalities, such as fixing boundaries, sharing of revenue, debt, water and other natural resources.

"We can have a real celebration only after all the process and formalities are completed and the Central government announces the birth of the new state," said K Chandrasekhara Rao, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader. He recalled that in December 2009, the then home minister P Chidambaram, in a midnight press conference, had announced that the process had been initiated, but the decision was reversed two weeks later.

What next?

  • Telangana issue will be referred to Andhra Pradesh Assembly
  • The state assembly will have to pass a resolution and then send it to the Centre
  • The Centre will constitute a Group of Ministers to discuss the formalities and all matters concerning Telangana and Andhra such as sharing of resources, revenue, assets and debts
  • GoM will draft a Bill and refer it to Andhra Pradesh Assembly
  • Comments of Home Ministry is to be incorporated in the Bill.
  • Draft Bill will be sent to president for scrutiny
  • President to send the Bill to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for approval. Simple majority is enough to pass the Bill
  • President will notify the creation of a new state of Telangana
 

CWC also urged the Centre to look into the matters relating to water sharing and power generation and distribution between Telangana, Rayalaseema and Andhra, and law and order in the state.

The announcement was welcomed by K Chandrasekhara Rao, leader of Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, who held a press conference in Hyderabad. He, however, added that the state will be a reality only after the Bill for a new state gets passed by Parliament. "The UPA has to bring in clarity in its decision to keep Hyderabad a common capital," he added.

Andhra Pradesh was formed on November 1, 1956 on linguistic basis by merging Andhra and Telugu-speaking areas of the Nizam's dominions. But struggle for getting a separate statehood started in 1969 within 13 years of the merger. The Congress government led by Indira Gandhi at the Centre crushed the movement with strong police action. In 2000, the movement once again intensified.

The Central government had made an announcement of its decision to initiate process for a new Telanagana state 14 years ago. On December 9, 2009, in a midnight press conference, then home minister P Chidambaram, had dramatically announced that the Centre was moving forward with the process of forming Telangana state.

But within two weeks, the Centre took a U-turn and the decision to form a new state was put on hold because of violent protests in coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema regions against the decision. Subsequently, in February 2010, the Central government appointed a five-member committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna to hold discussions with all sections of people, political parties and other organisations. The committee submitted its report on December 30, just one day before its term expired.

The 635-page report had suggested six possible solutions. The first, and the one preferred by the committee, was status quo—keep the state of Andhra Pradesh as it is and set up regional development councils for the development of Telangana region. The council would prepare development plans and look after water, irrigation, health, education and local administration. Another suggestion was to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh into Telanagana and the state of Andhra with provisions for making Hyderabad a Union Territory.

In that case Telangana and Andhra would have to develop their own capitals. Another option suggested was that Hyderabad remains the common capital till Andhra develops its own capital. The committee had also suggested Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital. But this was a least-preferred option by the committee, since most of the investments in Hyderabad are made by the industrialists and business class from the Andhra side.

Pending statehood demands
 
What made it difficult for the Centre to take a stand, apart from the vertical division among the people of Andhra Pradesh, is the fact that if Telangana is carved out of Andhra Pradesh, many other regions would make similar demands. At present there are at least seven such demands pending with the Centre: Vidarbha to be carved out from Maharshtra, Gorkhaland from West Bengal, Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh from Uttar Pradesh.

Now that a separate Telangana state has been decided on, the other regions will definitely intensify their demands. In fact, movement for a separate Telangana state, after being crushed in 1969, once again started in 2000 when the new states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (now Uttarkhand) were formed.

The UPA coordination committee and the CWC decided that Hyderabad will be common capital to both Andhra and Telangana for 10 years. According to Ch. Hanumantha Rao, eminent economist and former Planning Commission member, Hyderabad along with Telangana contributes 70-72 per cent of the total revenue of the state. The way the revenue is going to be shared is very important for the development of Telanagana as well as Seemandhra, he said.The CWC's decion okaying the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was greeted with cheers and bursting of crackers in Telangana districts while  protests were staged in many parts of  Andhra and Rayalaseema.

History of Telangana struggle
 
  • 1953: Andhra state is formed by carving out Telugu-speaking areas of Madras state
  • 1956: Andhra Pradesh is created by merging Andhra state with the Telugu-speaking areas of the Nizam’s dominions or Telangana. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy from Anantapur (Rayalaseema) becomes first chief minister. Violates merger agreements.
  • 1969: Separatist movement for Telangana begins. It is supported by the educated youth of all communities. The epicentre of the movement was Osmania University in Hyderabad. Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister, was against any new states. Strong police actions followed. The movement was crushed. Around 400 people lost their lives.
  • 2000: NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee assumes power at the Centre. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (now Uttarkhand) created. This leads to the resurrection of Telangana movement. K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), a dissident leader from Telugu Desam Party (TDP) becomes the leader of the movement
  • 2001: Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), a new political party is formed. Movement spreads into villages
  • 2004: Congress makes alliance with TRS to oust TDP from power with promise to seriously look into forming a separate Telangana state. The alliance sweeps to power. TRS joins the government both at the Centre and the state. But the Congress chief minister, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, opposed formation of a new state. The Centre stands by his views and does nothing for a separate Telangana state
  • 2005: TRS withdraws from the state government. Movement intensifies. All sections of people in Telangana districts join the struggle. Joint action councils formed
  • 2006: TRS withdraws from the Central government. KCR resigns his Lok Sabha seat. He goes back to the voters and seeks their votes on a separate Telangana state. Wins with huge majority. The Central government refuses to look into the issue of statehood for Telangana
  • 2009: TRS and TDP make alliance to defeat Congress in the state but lose the election. Congress retains power in the state
  • September, 2009: YSR dies in helicopter crash. Rosaiah becomes chief minister
  • November, 2009: KCR starts fast unto death, courts arrest, and is hospitalised
  • December 8-9, 2009: KCR's health status deteriorates. News spreads that KCR is slipping into coma. More than 20 people commit suicide. Violence spreads. Situation goes out of control. TRS calls for a “Chalo Assembly” march the following day
  • December 9, 2009: P Chidambaram, then home minister at the Centre, announces the initiation of process for forming a separate Telangana at a midnight press conference. But within a fortnight, the Central government takes a U turn on its decision.
  • December, 2009-January, 2010: Pro-Telanagana protests intensify
  • February, 2010 : Centre appoints Justice B N Srikrishna Committee to hold consultations with all sections of people and political parties in Andhra Pradesh
  • December 30, 2010: Report submitted. Six possible solutions suggested
  • 2010 onwards: Centre dilly-dallies on Telangana formation. Protests continue
 


How SKC Report tried to suppress truth and deceive Telangana

Justice Srikrishna Committee for consultations on the situation in Andhra Pradesh (Justice Srikrishna Committee report on Telangana)

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