The fact that Hyderabad will be given away to the new state is a horribly bitter truth that cannot be stomached easily.
The formation of a state within the existing Andhra Pradesh in southern India has predictably created a popular and political furore.
Though it will take a while before the new state (the 29th) actually comes into existence, the federal cabinet has decided that Andhra will be split into two with Hyderabad serving as the capital city for both for 10 years. Incidentally, the new province is yet to be named, but let us call it Telangana for the time being.
Andhra has always been a turbulent region with Naxalism and communalism causing terror and deaths. Now with massive protests against the creation of the new state, it takes little intelligence or imagination to understand that extremists may take advantage of the situation and strike.
Also, the fact that Hyderabad, which was developed into a thriving cyber centre (with most Indian IT guys outside India hailing from Andhra) only during the past decade, will be given away to the new state is a horribly bitter truth that cannot be stomached easily.
Beyond all these is a political compulsion. The Congress — now in a mighty bad shape after a string of scams, and with India’s general elections soon to happen — was hoping to clinch votes in the Telangana region by undercutting the political influence of Jaganmohan Reddy and his Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party.
The formation of Telangana, it was hoped, would encourage Reddy to align with the Congress Party in New Delhi. But nothing of the sort happened.
Reddy is on a fast unto death, and has just been forcibly shifted to hospital.
Understandably, anger is building up in Andhra or more specifically in those areas which will not be transferred to Telangana. A massive strike by state workers has crippled power supply and many other services.
The creation of Telangana needed political astuteness. It required taking the people of Andhra into confidence and assuring them that they would get a new capital and that their interests would be taken care of.
Instead, the Congress was hasty, probably in the absence of a firm plan from the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, who now wields ultimate power in India.
But as someone quipped, “will Mr Nonsense step in to rubbish Telangana?”.
Sonia’s son and the vice-president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, has now been nicknamed “Mr Nonsense” after his recent barge into a press conference in New Delhi where he called a government ordinance seeking to protect criminal members of parliament “nonsense”. The ordinance was subsequently dropped.
Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]