Fallout of a nagging problem

The resignation of five out of the six Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Ministers from the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet marks the first concrete manifestation of the differences with the coalition partner, the Congress, in the State. Of course, the exit of the Ministers or even the withdrawal of support by the TRS, if it so chooses, will pose no threat to the Government. Perhaps, it may even come as some relief to Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who has left for his three-nation tour as scheduled. If he has not accepted the resignations right away, it is only because the Congress high command and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre are also seized of the problem with the TRS and they must have their say before the State unit can decide on the future course of action. It is significant that the TRS has not quit the Union Cabinet, and its leader, K. Chandrasekhara Rao, would like to continue as the Labour Minister. Yet, he has ruled out the possibility of reviewing the resignation decision in Andhra Pradesh. For the record, the TRS has advanced two reasons for the pull-out — slow progress on meeting its demand for a separate Telangana State and the non-serious handling of the naxalite problem. The TRS is also upset at the Chief Minister's move to go in for a Greater Hyderabad at this juncture, making it impossible to partition the capital if and when a new Telangana State is created. Granting Statehood in this case is certain to give a boost to such demands elsewhere, say, in Rayalaseema or even coastal Andhra.

It is also obvious that the resignations have come soon after the deadline the Maoists had set for the TRS Ministers to step down since they have failed to get a separate State carved out as they promised during the elections. The naxalite ultimatum was that the Ministers should resign or face the bullet. It is not possible for the TRS Ministers to continue in office under such circumstances, though one of them has refused to submit to the party decision and opted to stay on. On the question of a separate State, a UPA sub-committee headed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee is considering the issue in all its national ramifications. There is still no word about the Second States Reorganisation Commission that was originally intended to be constituted to look at the new set of demands for separate States, including the one for Vidharba. However useful it may be to have smaller, compact States, the norms for division, as in the case of the linguistic yardstick adopted last time, will have to be clear. Such decisions cannot be taken in a hurry as they have far-reaching implications. The UPA sub-committee will have to first take a position on this before the Union Cabinet could decide on setting up a States Reorganisation Commission. The constituents of the UPA will have their own say on the issue and it is bound to be a time-consuming exercise.

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