All the bandhs and violence that Telangana has witnessed over the demand for a separate State has not evoked in me one bit of sympathy for the cause. It has only evoked a feeling of disgust on seeing public property worth crores being damaged and anger at seeing the perpetrators of these incidents going scot-free.
If a separate State of Telangana does materialise, it will send a very wrong signal — that bandhs and violent protests can get what you want in democratic India, that you can burn buses, damage railway tracks, rampage university campuses and ultimately you shall get rewarded, not punished. It is the common man who shall be punished. It is he who has paid his taxes. His money was used to buy those State transport buses, to build those railway tracks and set up those sprawling university campuses.
But who cares? Why should a political party like the Telangana Rashtra Samiti which is losing political ground with every successive election and which has no other means of getting into the corridors of power care, desperate as it is? What better way does it have than inflaming public passion and inciting chauvinistic sentiments in the masses? Regional chauvinism works well in this country, so why not? So many people have exploited it in the past. So how does it matter if it is exploited once more? There is at least a chance that it will get to rule independent India’s 29th State.
So, it decides to take a gamble. It chose the right time for the agitation, completely oblivious to the danger this means to the unity of this great nation.
If Telangana does happen, the agitation for Gorkhaland will intensify. The Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha will block the National Highway that leads to Sikkim and the poor State will bear the brunt of the agitation for no fault of its. Then, demands for Vidharba will intensify in Maharashtra. And, then other demands would arise from as many States of India.
There will be demands for the trifurcation of U.P., a separate Jammu, the Union Territory status for Ladakh and so on and so forth. And, parties like the PMK will press for the bifurcation of Tamil Nadu, where such a sentiment has never existed. Yes, Never. Every political party on its way to diminishing fortunes will definitely raise such non-issues and try and get back into the reckoning.
Other issues are involved too. Small States with smaller Assemblies mean political instability. Also, a new State will burden the exchequer with additional expenses like new offices of the Governor and Chief Minister, perks for the MLAs, a new Assembly, a new capital and many other miscellaneous expenses.
The cosmopolitan Hyderabad, a major IT hub, is in Telangana though all regions of the State lay claim to it. Where Hyderabad goes in case of a division is a contentious issue. At the same time, there is no denying that Telangana indeed fares poorly in comparison to the other regions of Andhra Pradesh. Areas of Telangana other than Hyderabad, are indeed poorly developed.
Nevertheless, a separate State is not the solution to this problem. Other possibilities, such as a special economic package for the region, must be explored.