State View: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Telangana

Cyclone in a teacup

Governor ESL Narasimhan (centre) comes out after talks with Chief Ministers of AP and Telangana, N. Chandrababu Naidu (left) and K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Photo: Special Arrangement

Governor ESL Narasimhan (centre) comes out after talks with Chief Ministers of AP and Telangana, N. Chandrababu Naidu (left) and K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Photo: Special Arrangement  

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While Andhra Pradesh demands the imposition of Section 8, However, the ruling TRS and all the Opposition parties in Telangana (except TDP) have vehemently opposed the idea.

An aggressive campaign kicked up by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for the invocation of Section 8 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA), which empowers the Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to take charge of law and order issues in the common capital of Hyderabad, has proved to be much ado about nothing. Immediately after a TDP MLA in Telangana was arrested in the cash-for-vote scam, the party launched an offensive, accusing the Telangana government of tapping the telephone lines of its party functionaries. The situation became embarrassing for Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, and the issue took on political overtones. Senior TDP leaders even accused the Governor of becoming a “puppet” of the K. Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana government.

APRA’s Section 8 has no parallel in India after independence. The Constitution clearly makes law and order an exclusive State subject. Given, however, that Hyderabad is the common capital of both States till Andhra Pradesh (AP) builds its own capital, or for a maximum period of ten years, security concerns have been raised about the large number of AP citizens who still live in Hyderabad. Section 8 is seen as a measure to address any contingencies.

It has since become a huge bone of contention between the two States. Soon after the formation of Telangana, when the Centre suggested a joint police force with personnel from both States to maintain law and order in Hyderabad, the Telangana Chief Minister dismissed the idea, saying, “Any attempt to micro-manage the administration through the Governor and bypassing the Council of Ministers is a direct affront to the federal polity of our country”.

The latest campaign for the invocation of Section 8 started with the Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arresting TDP legislator A. Revanth Reddy on May 31 when he was allegedly paying Rs. 50 lakh as bribe to nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson to vote for TDP in the elections to the State Legislative Council in June.

The issue, termed a cash-for-votes scam, snowballed into a major political controversy with the surfacing of an audio tape of purported conversation between AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Mr. Stephenson. What followed, although Mr. Naidu has vehemently denied the contents of the audio tape, was a fierce battle of wits between the two Chief Ministers, with Mr. Naidu accusing the Telangana government of tapping his and TDP leaders’ phones.

Besides demanding the invocation of Section 8, Mr. Naidu approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to seek their intervention. A delegation of AP ministers headed by Deputy Chief Minister K.E. Krishnamurthy also called on the President during his recent visit to Hyderabad to petition him.

However, the ruling TRS and all the Opposition parties in Telangana (except TDP) have vehemently opposed the idea. The Telangana TDP leader L. Ramana has accused the TRS leadership of creating a wedge between the people of the two Telugu-speaking States. To this, TRS legislator B. Vinod Kumar has said that “the law and order situation in the common capital area has never warranted Section 8”, adding that there has not been even an isolated instance when the safety and security of Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad has been threatened.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 states that “for the purposes of administration of the common capital area, the Governor shall have special responsibility for the security of life, liberty and property of all those who reside in such area”. It also specifies that “the responsibility of the Governor shall extend to matters such as law and order”.

Clause 3 of the same section states: “In discharge of the functions, the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers of the State of Telangana, exercise his individual judgement as to the action to be taken”.

Mr. Vinod Kumar said: “The bifurcation Act is very clear about the grounds for implementation of Section 8. The TDP leadership and the AP government are trying to link unrelated issues with the APRA provision”.

Interestingly, the Opposition parties in AP, including YSR Congress, Congress, the Left parties and the ruling TDP’s ally BJP have either opposed the demand or been silent on it. “By raking up Section 8, the TDP government is trying to divert people’s attention from pressing issues and cover up its gross failure in addressing basic issues,” said YSR Congress leader Botcha Satyanarayana.

Privately, a key TDP leader from Rayalaseema admitted that there has been no threat to the safety of Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad; the cash-for-vote issue, instead, has been the flash-point for the demand. And it has done no good to the already strained ties between the two State governments. For now, the situation is in limbo. Recent events, however, suggest that the demand is likely to crop up time and again, as Hyderabad could well continue as the common capital for the next decade.

Correction

>>The second deck headline of the article, “Cyclone in a teacup” (July 19, 2015, State View), said: “Telangana demands the imposition of Section 8, while Andhra Pradesh fiercely opposes it.” It should have been: “Andhra Pradesh demands the imposition of Section 8, while Telangana fiercely opposes it.

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 5:33:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/imposition-of-section-8-row-andhra-pradesh-vs-telangana/article7438452.ece

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