Telangana is now close to statehood on the strength of an untiring, intense mass struggle that had its basis in the assertion of historical political identities. To allow electoral calculations to decide the contours of the new state is to undermine the legitimacy of the aspirations that fuelled the original demand for statehood. Nothing but sheer political opportunism explains the new proposal to enlarge the proposed state by adding two districts of the Rayalaseema region, Kurnool and Anantapur, to create what in popular parlance has come to be known as Rayala-Telangana. This idea that has sprung out of cynical political calculations is ill-conceived, militating as it does against considered rationale for state formation. The proposal for Telangana in its original form includes only ten districts of Andhra Pradesh. That there is no popular underpinning for this concept either from the Telangana movement or the two districts shows that it is a politically-driven calculation. To think such a forced political union could solve some of the difficulties in sharing water resources post-bifurcation is naïve. If anything, the merger would add to the existing difficulties arising out of the bifurcation.

Although the backwardness of the Telangana region and the perceived political neglect were among the reasons that sustained the statehood demand, the redress sought by the Telangana movement was political, and not economic. Both Kurnool and Anantapur are backward like most of Telangana, but this is no reason for the people of the two districts to share any regional affinity with those in the proposed state. The people of Telangana insist on the implementation of the Mulki rules that specify domicile conditions for recruitment in government services. The differentiation between Mulkis (locals) and non-Mulkis is deep-rooted in Telangana. Thus, the forced union of the two districts with the new state of Telangana can only leave the peoples of both regions unhappy. While fast-tracking the creation of Telangana, the Central government seems to have placed a heavy emphasis on the interests of the Congress as a party. The proposal for Rayala-Telangana is evidently meant to help the Congress make gains in the next election by undercutting the popular support of its main rivals, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the YSR Congress. Indeed, the Cabinet cleared the statehood demand only after the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution favouring Telangana. The government is tailing the party. Rank political opportunism and sordid electoral calculations must not be allowed to undermine the serious institutional process of state formation, and put in jeopardy the lives and security of the people.

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