Mr Nonsense the man who gatecrashed a press conference after a belated discovery of conscience has had nothing to say about the callous way in which his party has set one group of people against another through sheer neglect and irresponsible leadership. What is absolutely clear is that the Telangana versus Seemandhra dialectic was entirely a Congress creation driven by extremely short-sighted political (mis)calculations…
You can add one more Congress-UPA mess to be cleared up by the next Government: the trouble brewing between Telangana and Seemandhra, as if Maoism, terrorism and communalism aren’t difficult enough to handle in this turbulent State. As usual, Mr Rahul “Nonsense” Gandhi is missing in action. His mother has been invisible behind a political purdah except when it suits her. Mr Nonsense – the man who gatecrashed a press conference after a belated discovery of conscience – has had nothing to say about the callous way in which his party has set one group of people against another through sheer neglect and irresponsible leadership. What is absolutely clear is that the Telangana versus Seemandhra dialectic was entirely a Congress creation driven by extremely short-sighted political (mis)calculations.
Let’s recall how the Congress goofed up on the wonderful opportunity it had to create Telangana without losing out on the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions. It all started in 9 December 2009 when then Home Minister P Chidambaram announced that preparations would begin to carve out a separate Telangana. He said: “The process of forming the State of Telangana will be initiated. An appropriate resolution will be moved in the State assembly.” But nothing happened. Within two weeks, Chidambaram was backpedalling furiously as the rest of Andhra Pradesh woke up wondering how they may lose out. On 23 December, he took “note of the altered situation…and promised to hold wide ranging consultations with all political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh.” By January 2010, the obfuscation was complete.
It would be charitable to say that the Congress High Command may have realised its blunder and was now trying to undo the damage in the regions outside Telangana, but that is unlikely for two reasons: first, the initial Telangana announcement of 9 December 2009 came three months after YS Rajasekhara Reddy died in a copter crash in September. By December 2009 his son Jaganmohan Reddy was demanding the CM’s throne, failing which he would break away from the Congress. This was when the Congress announced its Telangana decision – possibly in the hope of undercutting Jagan Reddy’s political base.
However, the early creation of Telangana did not suit the Congress purpose either, for there was no election to reap political dividends from. The reason why Telangana is now coming up again is clearly because the Congress sees the possibility of winning in this region once the TRS, which is spearheading the Telangana agitation, merges with it. It is this miserable short-sightedness that has short-circuited any possibility of an amicable split of the State. This is the reason why anger in Seemandhra is building up, resulting in economic damage and power shutdowns. The truth is the Congress screwed up badly in the absence of decisive political intervention from the top – 10 Janpath and Mr Nonsense. Inaction stems from their fundamental belief that anything good must be attributed to them and anything bad must land up on someone else’s plate; the hard work must be done by someone else; the political gains must accrue to them.
It should have been obvious to any political novice that the creation of Telangana would create bad vibes in Seemandhra as the latter feared they had more to lose than just their capital Hyderabad. It needed astute political leadership to talk soothingly to the people of Seemandhra about how they will be helped to build a new capital and how their interests in Hyderabad would be protected. You can blame Chidambaram or Sushilkumar Shinde for the Telangana botch-up, but they would merely be the fallguys for the Gandhis. The real blame must rest with the mother-son duo which did not put its political weight behind a smooth carve-up of Andhra Pradesh by spelling out a win-win vision to both sides.
It is surprising that words of sense and calm came not from 10 Janpath but Narendra Modi – widely acclaimed to be a non-conciliator – when he talked of support for Telangana without sacrificing the interests of the rest of Andhra (read his full speech on his blog). Even if you were to dismiss Modi’s speech as politically correct posturing, it is certainly the right way to approach the separation. Contrast the divisive creation of Telangana with that of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in 2000. Not only did the State assemblies support the creation of these new States, but the fact that the BJP actually lost in Chhattisgarh in the first election after separation shows that it did not act only with political gains in mind – though those calculations could not have been denied.
The truth is small States can often improve governance and growth when accompanied by political stability. This is why Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar are progressing and growing well, while Jharkhand is not. It is customary to credit Nitish Kumar for the growth record of Bihar after 2005, and certainly it would be right to do so. But an equally important reason for Bihar’s growth is the shedding of Jharkhand – with which went most of the State’s mineral resources. Jharkhand remained focused on growth using extractive industries and easy riches attracted the wrong kind of political leaders. Bihar focused on law and order and human development since these were its best hopes. Without mineral riches, Bihar was less tempted to live off the fat of the land – or what lay underneath it.
The bloodless separation of Jharkhand from Bihar should be credited both to the NDA Government and Lalu Prasad – and this could have been a major factor in Bihar’s subsequent growth under Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi. The moral is clear: when States separate, we need wise political leadership at both Centre and States. This is what is missing in Delhi and Hyderabad. Time for Rahul Gandhi to step in and stop this “nonsense”?
– Firstpost:Telangana vs Seemandhra : Blame Cong’s ‘nonsense’ for the mess