The creation of Telangana, having become a reality, political observers and media persons will now start analyzing the political beneficiaries or otherwise of the decision. It would be unwise to view the decision of the central legislature only through this narrow prism. Telangana had become a legitimate aspiration of the people of that region. The sentiment was so overwhelming that to delay it any further would have precipitated greater unrest. It was next to impossible to reverse the aspirations of that region.
The mishandling of the issue in the last few years by the Congress Party aggravated the problem. Instead of attempting to build consensus as was done in the course of creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand warring factions of the Congress Party created a confrontation between the people living in the State. Governance in the entire state had come to a standstill. Andhra Pradesh has been one of the most enterprising states of India. To resolve the issue, one had to choose between political opportunism and statesmanship.
The BJP state unit had been committed to Telangana for over three decades. In 2006, the central party had endorsed the demand. The BJP, therefore, pursued its twin objects. Firstly, there must be creation of a separate state of Telangana. Secondly, there must be adequate justice done to the people of Seemandhra since Seemandhra economically was going to suffer as a result of the division of the state. Those who indulge in extreme posturing look for immediate gains. Balancing between the twin objects was not contradictory. People of Telangana are happy that their state has been created and that Hyderabad is an integral part of Telangana. The success or failure of the legislation, in both Houses, depended on the BJP. The balance of power was with the BJP. We decided to lead in favour of Telangana, which has been our longstanding demand.
There were two other challenges. How do you balance the interests of Seemandhra? How do you highlight the issue that the government has gone wrong in the process of creation of Telangana? While highlighting the latter, it was our duty as a vigilant opposition to point out that to vest the law & order power for Hyderabad in the governor instead of the Council of Ministers a constitution amendment may be necessary. Our stand was vindicated when the Government’s response on this issue was at best half-hearted and unconvincing. Further, it was a part of the party’s conviction to extract from the Government positive commitments with regard to safeguarding financial interests of Seemandhra. We used all Parliamentary tactics available to pursue this end. Further, our position as a party, which had the balance of power in numbers, gave us an added advantage. On the floor of the Rajya Sabha we were, therefore, able to extract from the government the commitment that Seemandhra would get a special category status for five years, investments in Seemandhra would attract tax incentives on the lines made available to other states, a backward region package would be given for districts of Rayalseema and north coastal Andhra Pradesh. Polavaram, which had been declared a national project, will now have facilities of rehabilitation and resettlement, the resource gap for Seemandhra would be supported by the Central Government till such times the 14th Finance Commission fixes it entitlement. This package is fairly reasonable and would substantially look after the interests of Seemandhra.
If any further demand needs to be pursued such as a support from the Centre in building a new capital for Seemandhra, the BJP will play a positive role in facilitating this aspiration also.
As the dust settles down, it would become clear that even though BJP was traditionally a smaller political group in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, it performed its duty with a sense of responsibility and tried to be fair between the two dividing regions of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.