Prospects of a clear-cut announcement on Telangana have now receded

By pushing back the self-imposed deadline for making an announcement on Telangana by January 28 for no good reasons, the Centre has once again exposed its indecisiveness and inability to stand up to pressure groups, keeping people of Andhra Pradesh on tenterhooks for some more time.

The announcement of AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad that the Centre needed more time to arrive at a decision is least convincing, considering that three years have already lapsed since then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced on December 9, 2009 that the process of formation of Telangana had begun, only to renege on his promise a fortnight later. Critics then had described the December 9 announcement as “hasty” and a pointer to the Centre’s “loss of nerve”. Mr. Azad’s statement on Wednesday falls in the same genre of taking one step forward and one step backward.

His reasoning that there is nothing sanctimonious about Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s statement that a decision would be taken within one month of the all-party meeting in New Delhi on December 28 reflects utter lack of conviction. His claim that one month cannot be construed in its true sense can at best be described as cynical.

It only perpetuates the sense of uncertainty among people and the feeling of political instability at a time when everyone feels that enough is enough. As the prospects of a firm and clear-cut announcement in the immediate future have now receded, so have the chances of the revival of investments in the realty, information technology, ITES and manufacturing sectors, already reeling under a power crisis.

It is evident again, if any further proof is required that the Congress high command has not yet zeroed in on the ideal strategy that could yield high dividends in the elections to the Lok Sabha and Assembly, due in the first half of 2014.

It is also clear that Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, now in Chanchalguda jail, has spurned Congress leaders’ overtures for an electoral alliance while Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao is apparently playing hard to get. The party’s desperation is such that it has led to speculation about its negotiations with the Telugu Desam, a party born on anti-Congress plank, for a covert electoral understanding.

What is equally distressing for the Telugu people is to see Congress leaders from Seemandhra and Telangana regions running from pillar to post in the corridors of the Delhi darbar, as if seeking alms. They seem to be working overtime to prove the late N.T. Rama Rao right about mortgaging the ‘self-respect’ of Telugu people.

In his thundering style, interspersed with Telugu alliteration, NTR had accused these leaders during his barnstorming election campaign in 1982 of putting at stake the pride of six crore Andhra people at the altar of the Delhi darbar.

It was in reference to the quarrelsome Congress leaders who ran frequently to Delhi between 1979 and 1983 to complain to Indira Gandhi against the Chief Minister of the day.

The script of the Congress drama has not changed much in these decades; it’s only the actors and the props.