Those closely following ‘T’ developments knew it was meant to keep people and squabbling Congress leaders of the three regions busy fighting, while the Centre went ahead with its bifurcation plan

It should not surprise anyone if the Congress jettisons the concept of Rayala-Telangana after the string of top-level meetings it has lined up for Tuesday as it has served and outlived the intended purpose -- diversion from the core issue.

Those closely following Telangana developments knew it was meant to keep the people and the squabbling Congress leaders of the three regions busy fighting for and against Rayala-Telangana while the Centre proceeded undisturbed with its job of garnering support for bifurcation. In effect, Rayala-Telangana was a red herring, given a veneer of respectability by dusting it out of Justice Srikrishna Committee’s report (Option 3).

Falling for it

Some leaders of Rayalaseema, who were in the frontline of those demanding a united State, fell for this theory hook, line and sinker and distanced themselves from the Seemandhra camp, just when it was beginning to get a sense of urgency and unity. They did a U-turn by saying their first preference was united Andhra Pradesh, second Greater Rayalaseema but they offered to fall in line if the Congress high command decided in favour of Rayala-Telangana.

What the Congress leaders in Delhi actually had in mind ever since the beginning but did not leak out to the media was something closer to Option 5 of the committee’s report. It recommended clear “bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital”.

Among its six options, the committee termed this as the “second best option”, with a significant rider that, “separation is recommended only in case it is unavoidable and if this decision can be reached amicably amongst all the three regions”. It was of the view that given the long history of the demand for a separate Telangana, the highly charged emotions … and the likelihood of the agitation continuing in case the demand is not met …., consideration has to be given to this option.

Yet, it was here that the committee made observations about the far-reaching implications of exercising this option such as the growth of naxalism and religious fundamentalism, likelihood of backlash in Seemandhra and a fillip to other similar demands outside Andhra Pradesh.

The report, which drew sharp criticism from Telangana leaders, pointed out other negative factors too. For instance, it said, land locked Telangana may lose out on access and opportunities to the eastern coastline and impact its economic growth. On the positive side, the committee observed that “the overall economic viability of Telangana with Hyderabad is projected to be stable and, as a matter of fact, the GDP of this State will be much larger than many other States in the country”.

Strange

If Rayala-Telangana indeed finds favour, the Congress would have once again trashed the Srikrishna Committee report which clearly said the move would be strongly resisted by all political parties and groups from Telangana (outside of the Old City of Hyderabad) ... “The committee … noted that not even one of them favoured such an option and as a matter of fact conveyed their vehement opposition to it”. Against this backdrop, the reasons for floating the Rayala-Telangana concept are indeed strange.