By acknowledging the merits of the longstanding grievances of the people of the Telangana region and recommending robust “constitutional/statutory measures” – centred on a Telangana Regional Council – for the “socio-economic development and political empowerment” of the region within a united Andhra Pradesh as “the best way forward,” the Committee for Consultations on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh headed by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna has brought uncommon wisdom and progressive empathy to the task of finding a just and equitable solution to a problem that has seemed intractable. The statutory and empowered Regional Council would be provided with “adequate transfer of funds, functions and functionaries” and would also act as “a legislative consultative mechanism” for the subjects it would deal with. Furthermore, a technical body in the form of a Water Management Board and an Irrigation Project Development Corporation in expanded form are proposed for the management of water and irrigation resources. After weighing five other options, the Committee is of the opinion that this is the “most workable option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people of all the three regions.” The recommendation takes into even-handed account the grievances and aspirations of the people of Telangana, Coastal Andhra, and Rayalaseema – which is objectively identified as the most backward region of the State. Now it is for the Central and State governments to come up with credible guarantees of “firm political and administrative management,” which the Committee considers absolutely necessary to carry conviction with the people of the State that this solution is in “the best interest of all.” The Hindu wholeheartedly endorses the Srikrishna Committee's sagacious approach and prescription, which comes out of a lot of hard work and open-minded consultation with all sections of the people of the State.
The core issues, the Committee rightly emphasises, are socio-economic development and good governance. The united Andhra Pradesh option, premised on far-going and meaningful regional autonomy for Telangana, is recommended for “continuing the development momentum” of all three regions and “keeping in mind the national perspective.” Crucially, it would end the uncertainty over the future of Hyderabad. The “second best option” – bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra with their existing boundaries and with Hyderabad as the capital of the former and a new capital for Seemandhra – is clearly a distant second. The Committee's view is that this option should be exercised only if it becomes unavoidable and all three regions come to an amicable agreement on it – a tall order indeed. With Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram calling for an informed and mature debate with an open mind on the Srikrishna Committee Report, it is incumbent on all political parties in Andhra Pradesh, and especially the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, to respond soberly, fairly, and democratically. South India's largest State has a real opportunity to get it right this time.