– V.N. Balakrishna | February 24, 2014
Ahmedabad | Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh sounded a shade like ‘Emergency at midnight’ bringing to mind the famous words of Spanish painter Salvador Dali, ‘There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.’
People in Seemandhra and Rayalaseema and even in Telangana were caught off guard when both houses of Parliament passed the Telangana bill under questionable circumstances even after the BJP leader LK Advani advising the government to show restraint and pass only the vote-on-account of Railway and General Budgets leaving the controversial T-Bill to the next government.
“Incidents in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have shown that if a ruling party and the opposition join hands democracy is gone,” said an aghast YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) president YS Jaganmohan Reddy soon after Rajya Sabha passed the momentous bill.
As in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha too witnessed weird scenes. When a division (voting) after the voice vote was called for (it is mandatory even if a single MP asks for it) the deputy chairman PJ Kurien refused saying there are six MPs in the well and no division can take place. Yet no such nicety was observed when he allowed the debate with six MPs shouting in the well.
Secondly Sitaram Yechury of the CPM and Kanimozhi of the DMK walked out in protest. Trinamool Congress Derek O’Brien was one of those in the well agitating against the bill. Many others like AGP, BJD, JD (U) and SAD protested strongly and yet the Chair remained unmoved even when the Left alleged “match fixing” between the BJP and Congress.
Another twist to the tale was Lok Sabha blackout of LSTV channel. One of the 16 suspended MPs, Sabbam Hari (expelled from Congress) stated in a local Telugu TV channel that he met Speaker Meira Kumar in her chambers after the bill was passed and was told by her that the blackout was ordered only after BJP leaders in Lok Sabha approved of it. Yet, LSTV called it a technical glitch while the BJP condemned the blackout.
The second was Lok Sabha introducing the T-Bill through random head count amid fisticuffs which was enough to put off the bill. Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said, “We are not sheep. Why are the members being asked to stand to count their heads?” AIADMK member M Thambi Durai too supported Roy’s call for division dissatisfied with the head count.
With 16 MPs suspended should the bill, with serious ramifications for the Telugu-speaking people of the state and elsewhere, be rammed through in mere 23 minutes? Obvious lessons can be drawn that any party with 270 MPs support can break a state no matter what.
There was ample melodrama in Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP with two MPs Sudha Rani and Devender Goud heaping lavish praise on the bill and voting in favour of Telangana while two others CM Ramesh and YS Chaudhary fighting tooth and nail to oppose it and getting suspended by PJ Kurien.
Ironically Seemandhra has been formed as a residue state without a capital as Hyderabad as joint capital goes away after 10 years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reading a one-and-half page script in mere 10 minutes announced a five-year special category status for Seemandhra when Hyderabad had taken over 50 years to develop. With no fund allocation for a new capital can one be created in five years? And for any industry to come up the gestation period is at least three years.
Revenue deficit during 2012-13 for Seemandhra was an alarming Rs 15,000 crore (excluding Hyderabad). With deficit rising annually at 14 % the PM spoke only of covering this gap for one year!
Grave water wars too loom large between the two antagonistic states and no assurance on the Polavaram project languishing for want of funds. All PM would say, “Our government will execute the Polavaram project—let there be no doubt about it.” (It may be recalled that when fund-starved Andhra government was negotiating with Austrian government for loans, the Centre refused to be a counter guarantor).
Already Karnataka and Maharashtra release water to Krishna ayacut at their whims and fancies which later have to reach Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar dams. Once Telangana comes into being half the gates of these dams fall in the divided states and if water riots break out warring farmers could go for the gates.
Political fallout is ominous as powerful Reddy, Kamma and Kaapu communities have been eclipsed with Congress rushing to form Telangana, which sounds like a first-ever quota state being formed reserved only for the locals. It is bound to have far reaching consequence on political landscape, perhaps forever.