The decision of the Congress leadership to create a separate state of Telangana brings back memories of the divide and rule policy of the British. Although it is argued that smaller states will result in better development, the small states that have been created out of larger ones do not prove the premise right. Smaller states do not have a strong voice at the Union level. The larger States are more vocal, something the Centre is not comfortable handling.
The States are key to our federal structure. The breakup of big States weakens the federation, resulting in more power for the Union government. In fact, the need of the hour is to empower States more, not weaken them.
No doubt, the decision to create a separate state of Telangana will open the Pandora’s Box. But a decision should be made soon so that Andhra Pradesh can function. The administration in the State is disturbed, the government is unable to concentrate on development activities, and people are agitated over the issue. Rather than count the number of MPs it will get from the State in 2014, the Congress should take the right decision.
This letter is from an ordinary Indian whose education neither lets him protest on the streets nor remain a spectator of the political events that unfold. This is not about keeping Andhra Pradesh divided or united. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru declared clearly that regionalism is not negative as long as its intentions are positive and it is not used to spread hatred. Gandhiji took pride in calling himself a Gujarati.
But what pains me is the proposal being floated in the name of Rayala-Telangana, to be formed by splitting Rayalaseema into two districts and merging them with Telangana. Rayalaseema is much older than even independent India. People have shared the same culture and traditions for generations. The division of the region would be akin to Lord Curzon’s division of Bengal. Rayalseema should remain united, no matter what shape Telangana takes.
The Congress seems to have decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh into Rayala-Telangana and merge what remains of the State into Andhra. Apart from partisan politics, there seems to be no good logic in the move. We gave up the cultural boundaries to form one State on the basis of language. People of Andhra Pradesh, irrespective of the districts or regions they belong to, have nurtured the State and Hyderabad into what they are today. If, indeed, regional aspirations and sentiments are to be the basis of formation of States, India would have to be fragmented into hundreds of States.
Reports suggest that the Centre proposes to add two districts of Rayalaseema with Telangana. The merger is not practically viable as the districts of Rayalaseema — Kurnool and Anantapur — are far away from the capital city of Hyderabad. The State can instead be bifurcated into Seemandhra and Telangana.