New State will have 10 districts; Hyderabad to be common capital for 10 years

For Andhra Pradesh, an era came to an end on Tuesday. Moments after the UPA Coordination Committee agreed to the division of the State, the Congress Working Committee pronounced in a unanimous resolution that Telangana will soon be a reality in four to five months.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, however, did not wait for the announcement. After making a last-ditch effort — as did other Central Ministers, Congress MPs and leaders from Seemandhra — to persuade the Congress leadership not to go through with the separation, he dashed back to Hyderabad to deal with the political fallout.

With threats of resignations coming in from Congress State ministers and MLAs from the Seemandhra region, a grim-faced Digvijay Singh, the party general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh admitted, “Some issues are agitating the minds of people on both sides, and it is the responsibility of the Congress general secretary in-charge and the State leadership to resolve them.”

The CWC resolution, too, acknowledging that choosing to create Telangana “has not been an easy decision,” made a fervent appeal to everyone concerned “to extend their fullest cooperation so that [it] can be implemented in … a manner that ensures peace and goodwill and progress and prosperity among all sections of the people of both States.”

The process that will culminate in the creation of what will be India’s 29th State promises to be complicated.

The Centre, Mr. Singh said, would send the CWC resolution to the State Assembly to seek its views (its approval is not required), after which it will go to the Union Cabinet. A Group of Ministers to address all the issues of Telangana and Seemandhra — the sharing of waters, revenue, land, power, assets and liabilities — will then be set up.

The Union Cabinet will then ask the Union Law Ministry to draft a bill that will be sent to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly for its comments. Next, the Union Home Ministry will make adequate provisions, incorporating the suggestions. After this, the government-approved draft bill will be sent to the President; Parliament will then have to pass the bill in both the Houses by a simple majority. The final step: it will go back to the President for notification.

The length of time that all this would take, party sources said, suggested that the bill would not be ready for passage till the winter session of Parliament.

As for the provisions of Article 371 (D), which provides for special provisions for the State, Mr. Singh said the Union Cabinet would examine whether it would remain relevant after the creation of Telangana.

For the moment, the proposal to include two districts of Rayalaseema — Anantapur and Kurnool — in Telangana has been put in cold storage. However, Mr. Singh, when asked a question on the subject, said that while for the moment the two districts would not be part of Telangana, if over the next few months there were demands for their inclusion, an appeal could be made to the GoM that will be working out the details of the separation.

The new State will have 10 districts, while the remaining Andhra and Rayalaseema regions will together constitute Seemandhra. Hyderabad, party general secretary Ajay Maken, reading out from the resolution, said, would be the common capital for the two States for 10 years, by which time Seemandhra will have a new capital, built with Central assistance.

The Polavaram irrigation scheme, the resolution states, will be named a national project, and the Centre will provide adequate funds for the development of the area.

The emphasis in the CWC resolution is that the decision to create Telangana has been a tough one, but that it comes after years of deliberation. It points to the promises made by different party leaders, from Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to the late Y.S. Rajshekhar Reddy, as well as its mention in several party documents — from the party manifesto for the A.P. Assembly elections in 2004 to the Common Minimum Programme of UPA-I. Indeed, the CWC resolution is at pains to stress that history, rather than political expediency, has persuaded the government to take this difficult decision.

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