Telangana is almost a fait accompli now, but both pro-Telangana activists and anti-bifurcation protesters know there is still a lot to fight for: the status of Hyderabad, the demarcation of boundaries, the sharing of water resources, and the reallocation of government personnel. With the Group of Ministers looking into issues relating to the bifurcation completing its consultations on Monday, the focus is now on the details of the bifurcation, and not the creation of Telangana itself. The violent agitations leading to and following the Cabinet approval for Telangana were in part engendered by the indecisiveness of the government at the Centre, and the absence of any structured dialogue among the various stakeholders on the bifurcation. The Centre heard views from all sides, but could not force anyone to consider compromises or scale down from maximalist positions. The discussions so far have been random exercises held in the hope that a consensus would magically emerge. But now that these efforts have predictably failed, they are shown up as justification for a hurried, unilateral approach by the Centre. No resolution on the Telangana issue was introduced in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. While this is not mandated by the Constitution, the bypassing of the Assembly is certainly a departure from the precedents in the bifurcation of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in 2000. Of course, in these instances the creation of the new States — Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh — were not as contentious as the carving out of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh is. Telangana remains an instance of how not to go about creating new States.
Almost inevitably, the Cabinet approval for Telangana has revived demands for new states in eastern India, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Clearly, the Telangana tangle has reinforced the need for setting up another States Reorganisation Commission to examine various demands for new states and lay down broad principles and guidelines in deciding new boundaries. At present, many of the demands are based on loose, largely imagined, identities. The struggle for Telangana was based on its political past, and not linguistic or ethnic identity. Without some rational, practical basis for the creation of new states, statehood demands would be conceded as the Centre seems politically expedient. Governance issues and administrative convenience should also be among the decisive factors in the creation of new states. Otherwise, statehood demands would be sustained by narrow, sectarian agendas that ignore the larger interests of the community. The end result of such demands can only be internal displacement of people.