The article, “Interpreting a federal Constitution” (Feb. 4), rightly argued for the need to reinterpret the rationale behind the Central government’s unitarity in a federal structure. The lofty ideals of federalism will be reduced to an anachronism if the Centre proceeds to unilaterally divide Andhra Pradesh. Citing Article 3 is inconsequential if the fears of the region’s people are not allayed. A positive federal structure is one in which there is mutual respect and trust between the Centre and the States.
In the current stalemate over Telangana, it is the Andhra Pradesh Assembly that is attracting sympathy for having its views disregarded by the Centre. However, it is still the people of Telangana who are the victims, having been left in the lurch after being promised the moon. As the Union government dilly-dallies over the Bill, it is becoming clear that it had failed to formulate a coherent policy to bring on board all parties before holding out the promise of a new State.
R. Prabhu Raj,
Even a mechanism as democratic as federalism is not free of politics. The tenuous relationship between the Centre and States is either fortified or weakened depending on considerations extraneous to constitutional fundamentals. The ruling party has no qualms in arm-twisting a State government where it is politically convenient, as it showed in readily disregarding A.P.’s rejection of the Telangana Bill. On the other hand, it lets off others in power when it suits it. If Uttar Pradesh were ruled by a party other than the Samajwadi Party, the UPA alliance would have gone the extra mile to destabilise the government or bring it under President’s Rule over the Muzaffarnagar riots. Likewise, the Centre could not ignore the demands made by the DMK and the AIADMK that the Prime Minister skip the CHOGM meet, as they were the only two southern parties that would come to its rescue in the 2014 elections.
The rejection of the A.P. Reorganisation Bill reflects the will of the people in both Seemandhra and Telangana. It would be a gross miscalculation for the Congress to think that the sentiment for a united Andhra exists only in the non-Telangana areas. Playing with State interests for petty political gains will only balkanise the nation.
The loud rejection of the A.P. Reorganisation Bill in the State Assembly carried no reflection of the views of members from Telangana, who are likely to have been overwhelmed in the Seemandhra-dominated House. The argument presented in “Interpreting a federal Constitution”, about the mistake of ignoring the State Assembly’s voice, was one-sided and therefore inadequate to the issue. The writers did not say a word on the hopes and aspirations of the people of Telangana, who have been fighting to get statehood for the last 50 years, and how these have a crucial say in the final outcome. One must not walk away with the idea that bifurcation as such is against federalism. On the contrary, the creation of one more federal state will augment the devolution of powers among rightful claimants.
The article aimed to look at federalism in today’s context. But the entire argument is based on incorrect facts and draws parallels between unrelated events. The resolution rejecting the Bill was by no means unanimous, having been rammed through by a partisan majority. Strident voices were raised for Telangana during a debate. Moreover, in 1948, our founding fathers had, while discussing Article 3, raised the concern that a democratic statehood bid could easily be thwarted by the autocracy of an incumbent majority.
Further, while citing the Bommai case to aver that absolute presidential power can subvert the Constitution’s protection of federalism, the writers forget that the Constitution preserves the federal nature of the Union and not its State boundaries.
G. Kishan Reddy,