After years of struggle, and several rounds of agitation, Telangana is set to come into being — as the 29th State of India. That some pain and suffering would accompany the bifurcation was, perhaps, inevitable; but a great deal of the violence and acrimony could have been avoided had the Congress and the Central government acted with greater sensitivity and understanding of the hopes and fears of the peoples in the two regions. But now is the time to look ahead, and try and fulfil the aspirations of the people of Telangana and allay the apprehensions of those of Seemandhra, or the residual Andhra Pradesh state. The residual state is to get special category status for the purpose of Central assistance, and its backward regions will be eligible for a special development package. But concerns still persist about the security of lives and livelihoods of non-Telangana people in Hyderabad, which will be the joint capital of both the states for 10 years. The decision to invest special law and order powers in the Governor to ensure the safety of the residents of Hyderabad goes some way in addressing the apprehensions of those from Seemandhra seen as “outsiders” in the capital. But doubts have been raised about the propriety of such an arrangement: whether an appointee of the Centre who is not democratically elected by the people of either state could have control over what is essentially a state subject. This arrangement is a compromise between designating Hyderabad as a Union Territory (as demanded by those representing Seemandhra) and making it the capital of Telangana alone. The model is that of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, where the Administrator-cum-Punjab Governor and the Adviser to the Administrator are in charge of law and order. In effect, Hyderabad will be akin to a union territory like Chandigarh in the matter of handling of law and order.
While the creation of Telangana draws the curtains on a long struggle for statehood, disputes and conflicts over sharing of resources and reallocation of personnel loom ahead. The creation of a new capital for the residual state will in no way limit the interests of the people of Seemandhra on Hyderabad, which has drawn investments from people of both regions. There could have been no solution that was agreeable to both sides, but the Centre could have worked out some compromises in consultation with all the stakeholders instead of imposing a reorganisation that merely defers the problems to a later date. Although politically the Congress appears to have put all its eggs in the Telangana basket, the Centre must ensure that the concerns of the Seemandhra people are addressed satisfactorily. Financial packages alone would not solve the problems.