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Updated: October 16, 2013 08:44 IST

Bird in hand, now two in the bush

Sanjaya Baru
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The Congress’s brazen attempt to score political points through the division of Andhra Pradesh has undermined the trust Telugus have reposed in it for years

Every time the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy came calling on Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister had a standard welcome line for the visiting Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. “Welcome Dr. Reddy,” he would say with a warm smile, “We are here because you are there!”

The Prime Minister’s reference was to the fact that the Congress was able to return to power in New Delhi in 2004 because of Reddy’s sweeping victory in Andhra Pradesh. Enthusing his party cadre with a padayatra across the State, YSR, as he is popularly referred to, mobilised peasant anger against the Telugu Desam Party and took the Congress’s tally in the Lok Sabha up from a mere five in 1999 to 29 in 2004. In 2009, he helped the Congress return to power in Hyderabad and Delhi, improving the tally of MPs from his State to 33.

The question today, it seems, is if the next Prime Minister would feel so obliged to the victors of the forthcoming polls in the Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of the State. The historic decision on the dissolution of India’s first linguistic State, it appears, has been taken with that question in mind.

The party’s calculations

The Congress party’s managers have convinced themselves that they have a win-win formula. In the Telangana region, not only would the Congress win enough seats on its own but it imagines the Telangana Rashtra Samiti would lend its weight to a Congress Prime Minster in Delhi. In the Seemandhra region, the party hopes that Jaganmohan Reddy, the prodigal son of its former leader, will in the end support Rahul Gandhi. There is, no doubt, longstanding support and sympathy for the Congress in Telangana has been refurbished with this decision. But would the region’s voters trust it any more than the TRS or other parties that have been more consistent in their support for a separate Telangana?

Will the State’s voters reward or punish the Congress for the games its national leadership has played with the Telugu people over the past decade? Behind the façade of unity and party loyalty in Delhi, most MPs from the State are either nervous or frustrated. Some are seething with impotent rage over the way in which they have been taken for granted and their people let down. They deserve no public sympathy as long as they stick to the loaves of office and their Lutyen’s bungalows, threatening to resign but never doing so.

The manner in which the Congress and the Central government virtually subverted the Justice Srikrishna Committee report, the duplicitous stand of so many Delhi leaders on the division of Andhra Pradesh, including of many members of the recently constituted Group of Ministers (GoM) on Telangana, the inability of members of the Union Council of Ministers from the State to stand up and be heard either in their own constituencies or in Delhi, and the flip-flops of the Union Home Ministry, have all served to undermine the trust that the Telugus had reposed in two successive elections in the Congress.

This GoM on Telangana ought to have been constituted long ago to examine the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee and, on that basis, map out a planned way ahead for the State. The Srikrishna Committee report was fair and objective and competently written, barring the silly secret chapter that served to subvert the report’s legitimacy. The Central government ought to have started a public debate based on that report and arrived at a consensual map for the road ahead that would have reassured all sections of society — the State’s aspiring middle classes, students looking for local educational opportunities, government servants worried about their relocation, farmers anxious about water supply, and investors with high stakes in the future of the emerging metropolis of Hyderabad-Secunderabad-Cyberabad.

This is no ordinary State with acres of wasteland to be divided and distributed. Andhra Pradesh was one of India’s rising States of the last three decades. The GoM would then have re-assured all sections that none of their long-term interests would be harmed. An all-party group on the Srikrishna report would have smoothened the transition.

The Congress’s attempt to gain political mileage from such a historic decision lies at the root of the public anger sweeping parts of Andhra Pradesh. It is not clear if the affection of the people of Telangana will be won even as the disaffection of the people of Seemandhra has been earned. Heavens would not have fallen if the Congress had first articulated its own vision for Telangana, for Seemaandhra and for Hyderabad and then re-assured all that the interests of those resident in Hyderabad and those aspiring to be so resident would not be harmed by whatever administrative solution was going to be offered.

Even the Partition of India was planned with greater care by a colonial government than this haphazard and utterly insensitive handling of the division of a premier State of the Union.

The GoM, constituted in the wake of widespread anger against the central Congress leadership’s lackadaisical approach to the State’s future, will find it difficult to earn the trust of the Telugu people — of Telangana and Seemandhra. A government that has been in power, as Dr. Singh would put it to YSR, because of the affection of the Telugus across two elections, today stands accused of taking a historic decision to suit its electoral calculations rather than the best interests of the Telugu people as a whole.

I was a critic of the separatist agitation, having participated in it as a student in the early 1970s, not because I did not empathise with the agitation’s demands and the agitators’ grievances — in fact I share them both — but because I believed statehood would not help a future political leadership in the Telangana region address the genuine grievances and needs of the region’s deprived people. Much water has flowed down the Godavari and the Krishna.

Cost-benefit analysis

The deed is done and I respect the popular sentiment in Telangana. Historians and political analysts will, however, debate for decades the costs and benefits of not just the decision, for the Telugu people and for the Indian Union, but of the manner in which it has been arrived at. Politicians will know sooner who would benefit from the decision.

More than a hundred years ago, towards the end of the 19th Century, the greatest Telugu playwright Guruzada Apparao, a master of wit, wisdom and satire and a social reformer to boot, wrote a the famous play, Kanyasulkam, in which Madhuravani, the young concubine, accuses her lover, Ramapanthulu, the village karanam, of “fraud” when he says he can fix a person’s horoscope to ensure a matrimonial alliance. In Velcheru Narayan Rao’s English translation, Ramapanthulu replies, “Call it politics.”

“What’s the difference?” asks Madhuravani.

“If a person trusts you and you deceive him, it is fraud. If a person doesn’t trust you, it’s politics.”

“Why don’t you just say,” says Madhuravani, “it’s fraud if someone else does it and politics if you do it? It’s all lies anyway.” Ramapanthulu, dismissive of her moralising, tells her she is ignorant of the “subtleties of dharma.”

What subtleties of dharma explain the short-termism that has come to define a historic decision related to the future of a State?

In Guruzada’s play, the tale ends in an unexpected way with Girisam, the novel’s playboy and conman, exclaiming, “Damn it, the story has taken a wrong turn!”

Will those be the Congress leadership’s famous last words?

(The writer is Director for Geo-economics and Strategy, International Institute for Strategic Studies and Hon. Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

More In: Lead | Opinion

Biased article, 100% paid or sponsored.
If AP ONLY can bring Congress Government at Center, and "let food grains rot, economics does not allow to distribute them free to poor" statement making PM understands that, why do other states matter for Congress? simple logic the writer fails to understand.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Oct 19, 2013 at 18:14 IST

The sub-headline which reads as"The Congress' brazen attempt to score political points through the division of Andhra Pradesh has undermined the trust Telugus have reposed in it for years",at the outset itself,suffer from the myopic perception that Telanganites are not having enough Teluguness in them, as is,unfortunately the case with the most Seemandhra leaders. as of now.Far from it,Telanganites are pleased that the Congress fully justified the trust reposed in it by them,at least for once.

from:  Seshagiri Row Karry
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 17:48 IST

It is indeed an unending saga of deceit and destruction being played by Ms. Sonia and her cahoots on the hapless people of A.P. for having stood with the 'dynasty' of Gandhi family. British divided and ruled us but this Congress divided and ruined the state beyond repair. The people are ready to punish them in the next elections from which the Congress would find it difficult to recover in near future the party is likely to vanish from the political scene of A.P. forever.And it is like the bird in hand and the one bushes both will be lost.

from:  ANTHRI VEDI NEKKANTI
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 15:15 IST

This article represents the whole story from Seemandhra and Political point of view.What about the Telengaana people's aspirations and injustice done to TG region from its merger.In any major decisions some political gains or losses would be to there.We need to look this issue beyond political gain or loss.It would be good,if author focuses on how to resolve issues out of the bifurcation rather than arguing about the decision.

from:  vijay
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:46 IST

what an absurd statement that new capital costing 5 lakh crore would be
built for Andhra ? Where are the funds ? Where from those funds would
come? If such an amount is available whole AP state can be made into
paradise, with no one in poverty.

from:  y.narasimharao
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:42 IST

The political class clearly played havoc in AP known as Rice granary for India. The Congress was trusted by the people of AP except during the stint of TDP , it had a clear chance of obtaining 20-30 seats if it had kept a low profile on the Telengana issue till 2014 LS elections as YSRC has not been tested in the Political battle field except in a big way .The Congress will definitely regret post LS elections for speeding up craving the separate Telengana .I doubt if even TRS and KCR had expected this Bonanza and Jack pot from Congrees without much hiccups and the speed in which the congress had gone about the crucial decision had made matter simpler for TRS .In the end congress may not gain much in Telengana except for a few seats and in Seemandhra it will be total wash out. However banking on YSRC and TRS is a question mark as both the parties have been at loggerheads with the Congress, for quite some time

from:  siddavaram
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:33 IST

it an appropriate analytical commentary n thought provoking report exposing the opportunistic political gambling enacted by the congress in a blatant manner affecting the very future of telugu people who supported congress althrough n finally landing in a pit dug by itself.the predicament of the congress at present is very aptly described by sanjaya baru in girisam words of kanya sulkam(telugu play)“Damn it, the story has taken a wrong turn!” .A true n tell tale reflection on the state of affairs of A.P .
thank u sanjaya n the hindu .All telugu people must read this article n decide how 2 bring pressure on the congress party which has gratitude at all.

from:  JAYA RAJU.Y
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:27 IST

@s.Jaypal Reddy, It is quite funny to read your comment, Sri Krishna
committee is a fairy tale animated by congress to laze and create a an
illusion that UPA is doing something towards nothing. By the way, The
Hindu does not publish articles out of random choice, it is done with
stringent and macro/microscopic evaluation. I hope you will see the
other side of the UPA in creating a separate state, rather than
residing on a monoplexed view of dividing a prosperous state.

from:  sandeep kumar
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:25 IST

Political parties and people are expecting the last act from Jekyll&Hyde over the Congress Party enticement to Y.S.Jaganmohan Reddy , who must be surely expecting himself a clean chit from CBI for a real - quid pro quo to Congress! That will wrap up the last jigsaw in the puzzle.

from:  P.V.Sivakumar
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 14:19 IST

I have a simple question, would Congress have taken the same deicsion if YSR was alive. Those who see the death of YSR as an opportunity to divide Andhra, are not only against the spirit of India, but are also betraying the people of Telangana who voted for YSR.
Instead of addressing the backwardness of some districts, the govt has thrown the country backward by this decision. Now there are more demands for dividing states, rather than solving problems.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 13:34 IST

It is sad to notice that a "learned man" like Sanjay Baru treats the subject matter of demerger of Telangana in such superficial and
monochromatic terms of political calculus while glossing over the
history and injustices that have been done to Telangana over the last
60 years. This is yet another instance where consistently Seemandhra
intellectuals have written against Telangana aspirations (Four days
back a similar article was written by one Mr.Nagesh Kumar). That there
is a systematic denigration of Telangana region by Seemandhra
politicians never gets a fair treatment in your paper. This bias is
not lost on the people of Telangana
Hopefully, in the new state we will not have to listen to these
pathetic jeremiads.

from:  Vishweshwer Mangalapalli
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 13:05 IST

Nice article.most of andhra people will be thinking in the same way. Perhaps no one will be benefited by this not even those who did it for thier political benefits. Central leadership shouldn't listen to some TRS like agitators otherwise every second day we will be creating a state. And who establishes that normal telangana people wants a seperate state political acceptance of TRS will be proved in the elections only....

from:  Ashutosh Pandey
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 13:02 IST

One of the best articles of recent times. I am from Andhra Region, but
now it is too problematic to support United Andhra as Telangana region
people are not thinking from the big picture. I feel bifurcation of
A.P is mandatory, but now onwards no games on the innocent people of
Telangana, no more suppress on Telangana people by the dominated caste
people, and no more uneducated people in Telangana. Let the ordinary
man takes the control of what seed will give best result and what is
the taste of the fruit that he did seed. For Andhra region, it is very
sad. But it is ok. Please do justice atleast to the peasants of our
region with proper water aggreements like the "indus water treat"
which seems to be the best treat of the world between two rival
countries.

from:  Pratap Murukutla
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 12:55 IST

If congress does manage to divide the state it is going to set a
dangerous precedent of dividing states for political gains.The central
government going ahead with a division of state against the wishes of a
majority in the state might mean that whoever is in power in Delhi can
divide any state on the basis of electoral considerations. That is the
beginning of the end of India as a nation.

from:  Suraj
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 12:07 IST

Can we expect a National newspaper like The Hindu to publish the views of the pro-
Telengana people as well. So far most of the articles published only reflect the opinions of the anti-bifurcation thinkers. One should not forget the prolonged struggle in Telengana over the decades for a seperate State. The author, in his anxiety to blame the Congres party seems to have either forgotten or ignored it.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 12:02 IST

It is a fact that 'Telangi' are discriminated by Andraites, and this
discrimination has not stopped. I have heard it myself from Andrahites
referring to Telangis with derision, as if it was a kind of abuse. So
it is better to let them manage their own estates instead of merging
them with majority.
Democracy is not only about majorities but about the rights of
minorities too. This is what differentiates democracy from mob rule.
After so much hullabaloo and chaos over creation of Telangana, things
have not changed even a bit. Telangis are still treated the same. So
creation of a new state for them is a means for them to get their
self-respect back.
Thinking about this in terms of votes, politics is wrong; one must
think about it in terms of people.

from:  raman
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 11:31 IST

Very well commented but Telengana is a reality as proposed by the Congress. let us see how we can make Telengana and Seemandhra viable with capital cities of Hyderabad and Vijayawada or is it going to be Vishakhapatnam or Tirupati respectively. i hope the GOM would carefully evaluate the choice for capital of Seemandhra rather than postpone the decision to create another Chandigarh of Hyderabad.

from:  S V Venkatesh
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 10:57 IST

The writer's analysis is the best so far I have
seen in the news papers' columns.

from:  P KRISHNA MURTY
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 10:28 IST

Not only does it make sense politically, even economically and socially it makes no sense to divide the state of Andhra Pradesh. Yes, some regions of Telengana are underdeveloped but so are many regions of Rayalaseema region. The only groups that ae benefitting from the current situation are some extortionist groups which are trying to extort money from Indian citizens in Hyderabad by using the name of Telangana -- they are also instigating people especially the youngsters that they will get employment if state is divided. There are definitely other things to fight for like reservation for jobs for Telangana people in Andhra Pradesh and sharing river waters -- but the vested interests do not want to pay attention on those issues.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 10:04 IST

Indeed a thought provoking article. As rightly pointed out by Sanjaya
Baru, there is no second opinion and it is an undisputable fact that
late Y S R was the main architect for regaining power at the centre by
UPA-II and congress party in Andhra Pradesh. Perhaps, if Dr. Singh and
Sonia Gandhi had shown the same regard and sentiments even after his
tragic death, the T issue would not have resurfaced at all. Another
important aspect which everyone including the congress leadership is
conveniently forgetting is the fact that the 2009 assembly election
Andhra Pradesh was in fact a referendum on the very same issue of
bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and YSR came triumphant in all the
regions of Andhra Pradesh by defeating the forces which represented
the division of Andhra Pradesh. By trying to solve one problem of
limiting the political clout and acceptance of Jagan Mohan Reddy in
Andhra Pradesh, the Congress has created a bigger problem of total
anarchy, chaos, animosity, hatred and unrest in the entire state of
Andhra Pradesh. The only pragmatic way-out appears to be immediate
call off of the hasty decision by the political leaders who created
the mess and keep this contentious in abeyance and leave it to the
wisdom of the learned and empowered electorates to decide the issue
through ballot. After all any major political decision in an electoral
democracy should be backed by the mandate only? Having said this can
happen only if the better sense prevails upon our political leaders?
The need of the hour is not bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh but
setting up of a judicial inquiry to find out how the T-issue abruptly
resurfaced after the tragic death of YSR and to know the seamless fund
flow from various quarters and the actual masterminds behind the
Telangana issue.

from:  ettirankandath krishnadas
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 09:13 IST

An excellent article by Baru who has brilliantly analysed how Congress has demolioshed its own base which has been giving good support to form government at the centre for so many years and to the Gandhi family. It is no wonder that Sonia is considered by people from Andhra as another Jinnah for being the reason for the bifurcation which is being done under lot of secrecy and deceit. Gandhi family will never gain the trust of Andhras for the conspiracy played out ignoring the genuine concerns of majority in AP.

from:  MVJRao
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 08:49 IST

"United we stand, divided we fall" this motto which exemplifies the
strength of unity seems to be loosing its sheen in this Era of divisive
politics. Yet,The People of Andhra Pradesh would have accepted this
decision of bifurcation,if the message had been clear from the
administration about various issues that may emerge post
bifurcation.This hasty and inconclusive decision of the congress has
done more harm than good to the state and the author has explained it
clinically.

from:  vikas kumar choudhary
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 08:36 IST

The views of author mirrors the opinion of thousands of Telugus from
seemandhra. The tragedy of this whole play is the all the viewers are
massacred at once without any chance to escape. We paid a heavy price
for having asked the congress play troop to perform for 10 whole years.

from:  K.A.R.Reddy
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 07:37 IST

Excellent Article.The division of India will increase the number of
Looters(politicians) and Bureaucrats.
For the common man it does little to Improve his fate and status

from:  Chandra Reddy
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 05:47 IST

The author contends that public debates were needed to sort out the
raging issue of Telangana. However, the truth of matter is that
several thousands of hours of public debate have occurred in the past
and aired on prime TV channels with no logical conclusions. SriKrishna
committee had advocated division of state as an option. Congress party
had taken this decision after several multi-party deliberations.
The author fails to take note of prolonged agitation for Telangana.
The author has to explain why he chose to do so.
Congress high command needs to commended for having taken a decision.
This decision looks very appropriate. Whether it will be helpful to
Congress to come back to power in the next general elections is any
body`s guess.
In writing an article in an esteemed national newspaper like Hindu, it
we need to be unbiased and constructive.
This article would have been useful, had the author made suggestions
about the steps to be taken to do justice to both Telangana and
Andhra.

from:  S Jaypal Reddy
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 05:00 IST

Lord Curzon divided Bengal in 1905 under similar circumstances.
Bengal's journey since then is well documented. The people of Andhra
cannot hide behind the facade of victimhood. Eventually it is the lack
of cohesiveness among the people that has driven a wedge through the
state. The wedge unfortunately has been used as sawing blade by the
ruling class. What they don't realise is that this blade has now
acquired two edges - the new edge perhaps sharper than the old.

from:  Rohith Shankar
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 03:47 IST

Thanks for the fine analysis. This is what happens if one puts too much trust; and unfortunately the singh/Gandhi coalistion BETRAYED the Telugu people. Hope and pray we teach a lesson to the "crooks" of the Congres.

from:  narahari reddy
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 03:38 IST

Much water has flown under the Rivers Godavari and Krishna indeed, while Telnagana People have silently and helplessly watched for the last sixty years becoming mere spectators to the drama called failed experiment of United Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Baru paints the utopian picture of monolithic Telugu People that never existed. Fissures were visible all along. The very first, so called Not so Gentle Men's agreement was thrown in to the Bay of Bengal. That Saga Never ended. Telangana people were not only deprived of employment, water and other opportunities, they were ridiculed of their own language and culture right in the middle of their own mother land. Bifurcation was a historical necessity not a result of political expediency as Mr Baru puts it.

Any political gain to either Congress or any other party is just a a bye product.

from:  Krishna Dammanna
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 02:54 IST

Very good article.Will congress ever read it?Hope Telugu talli will not be
split as they did to Bharat mata in 1947 !

from:  K.S.Rajan.Toronto
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 02:48 IST

A punctual article with well calibrated logics behind the world's famous
antidemocratic and antisocial exercises of all times. A famous proverb
'Curse the candle and welcome the darkness' that is what congress is
doing with AP bifurcation. A narcissistic act designed by futile and
schizophrenic brains.

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Oct 16, 2013 at 02:31 IST
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