Telangana, India’s 29th State, is facing a peculiar problem. After 50 years of fighting, the people of Telangana have realised their dream of having their own State, but without absolute control over the State’s capital Hyderabad and the neighbouring city of Secunderabad. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which led the movement for the separate State, always maintained that both Hyderabad and Secunderabad are integral parts of Telangana. The TRS had made it clear to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre that Hyderabad is a non-negotiable issue.
But the Centre succumbed to the immense pressure by the Seemandhra ‘lobby’. It created Telangana, but forced its people to share Hyderabad with Andhra Pradesh as the common capital for a maximum period of 10 years.Lack of control
The real problem is not sharing Hyderabad as the common capital; it is lack of control over Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The twin cities have been an integral part of the Telangana region since their birth. They represent Telangana culture, not Seemandhra culture.
Just because Hyderabad was the capital of the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh for 58 years and the people of Seemandhra have a significant presence in Telangana, they argue that they won’t feel safe if the control over the two cities goes to Telangana. They even demanded Union Territory status for the Pearl City. This was vehemently opposed by the people of Telangana. Finally the Centre decided to allow the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (both States will have the same Governor, which is also a problem) to have the final say over the affairs of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The contents of an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on June 4, 2014, has shocked the new government in Telangana. It says: “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. The Governor can issue necessary directions to the officials of the State government of Telangana for the protection of the property rights of the aggrieved.”
The same order also states that the Governor has unlimited powers in administration, law and order in the twin cities. “The validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in the exercise of his individual judgement. In order to ensure that the provisions regarding the special responsibility of the Governor is implemented smoothly vis-à-vis the Government of Telangana, the following amendments to the State Business Transaction Rules are proposed. The Governor shall have power to call any record or information or decision of the Council of Ministers or any authority relating to the responsibilities envisaged under Section 8 of the A.P. Reorganisation Act 2014. The Commissioners of Police and the SP of Ranga Reddy District shall furnish periodical reports of law and order to the Governor in addition to special reports in all grave and specially grave crimes in the common capital area.”
The tone and tenor of the above order is very disturbing and can have far-reaching implications. This order goes against the spirit of the federal system. Just because Hyderabad is a common capital for both the States, it does not need to be administered by a ‘neutral’ Governor. The unfounded fear — that the people from Seemandhra are not safe if the capital is administered by the Telangana government — has led to this situation. Even during the height of the Telangana movement, there were no major incidents of violence against people from Seemandhra who have made Hyderabad and Secunderabad their home. The day Parliament created Telangana, TRS chief K. Chandrashekar Rao and other Telangana leaders had appealed to the people to forget the bitter incidents of the past.
The Home Ministry order, which gives unlimited powers to the Governor, makes Hyderabad look like another Union Territory. It also creates the impression that the people of Telangana are intimidating and have no respect for the federal system. This is an insult to all the people of Telangana, who are peace-loving and hospitable. According to Mr. Rao, who is also Telangana Chief Minister, these instructions will go against the principles of independence of the State government in matters of law and order, which, as per the statute, are vested with the State government. The latest circular by the Centre states that the Governor will take a final call on all matters pertaining to the law and order machinery, including postings of officers.The bigger threat
The bigger threat is the use of similar orders to meddle with the affairs of other major cities in India. A certain section comprising ‘outsiders’ has been demanding that the administration of Mumbai be separated from Maharashtra. The attacks on the workers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have led to such demands. Even the corporate world, which has no love or respect for the local sentiments, culture, language and heritage of a city or a State, is complicit in making such demands.
A section of the corporate world has made such controversial demands even in Bangalore in the past. The Centre, which has to protect the territorial integrity of a State and its Constitutional rights over its administration, must come forward and clarify its stand on such issues. Otherwise, all this may lead to unrest across India and pit the locals against the ‘outsiders’.
It is not the question of Hyderabad alone. It can happen to any other major city in India. No city including Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai will be safe if we don’t oppose the orders of the Centre.
Some people who belong to the Seemandhra lobby are even now demanding that both Hyderabad and Secunderabad should be made centrally administered cities for the next 10 years. These demands and suggestions are creating serious doubts in the minds of Telangana people and may spoil the peaceful atmosphere. After a long struggle we have got our own State. Our primary focus should be on building a prosperous and peaceful State and not on issues like these.
I hope the Centre will soon realise that excluding the people of Seemandhra from the people of Telangana on the pretext of ‘safety’ is actually against the Constitution and the spirits of our federal system. The primary job of the Centre is to integrate the diverse people of India, not to keep them separate.
(Kavitha Kalvakuntla is a Telangana Rashtra Samithi MP from Nizamabad and the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K.ChandrasekharRao.)