A Roadmap for Telangana and Reorganization of Andhra Pradesh
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

The turmoil in Telangana is back in the news and many people who might even have supported the cause some time back, are having second thoughts today, due to the violence and chaos. As an aside, I think that the turmoil we are seeing has been deliberately created by the Congress to discredit the movement and hope that it runs out of steam.

I am still a strong believer in the concept of smaller states and had blogged about this in Nov 2010 itself (See here)

Seeing an article recently published on Niticentral (here), made me stop and think that the basic assertion in this article is correct; that even the strongest supporters of Telangana really don’t have a roadmap on how to go about creating the state, as well as answers to some very pertinent questions asked, as follows:

  1. Assuming AP will be split into two — Telangana and Andhra, what will be capital city of the two States?
  2. Assuming Hyderabad is the capital for Telangana, what will be the capital city of Andhra?
  3. How long will it take to build a new capital city for the new State?
  4. Till such point of time, what is the proposed roadmap to govern both the States?
  5. How will water distribution take place between the split States?
  6. Is it safe to assume that granting Telangana would mean that AP gets divided into 2 and not 3 States?

While I don’t intend to go into the specific merits (or demerits) of carving out Telangana as a separate state, there are a few complications which one must recognize, as opposed to any of the other “smaller” states that have been created in independent India. They are as follows:

  1. This is the first time where the breakaway state includes the capital city (and the region around it) of the parent state and is not a peripheral region
  2. The cultural similarities between the capital city (Hyderabad) and the region around are minimal (due to demographic and linguistic reasons)
  3. Although the region feels culturally subjugated (which is a fact), it is bang in the middle of the parent state
  4. The feelings against break-up are so strong in the other regions (Seemandhra – I hate this artificially concocted term) that the state assembly will never give its approval in the form of a resolution
  5. The feelings in favour of creation of the state are so strong, that they will not melt away in time (as happened in the case of Kodagu), as the number of suicides show

Under the circumstances, even assuming that there is a leader of stature and vision who can steer through this quagmire, we need answers to the questions above as well as an indicative step-by-step roadmap on what to do.

I am jotting down some of thoughts below on a possible roadmap and some solutions:

  1. The real solution for the state is not a bifurcation (thereby creating another artificial entity called Seemandhra) but a trifurcation of the state into Telangana, Rayalaseema and Andhra (I prefer the name Konaseema, although it is only a small region in this area)
  2. Since an Assembly resolution is unlikely, conduct a referendum amongst the people in the three regions for the formation of Telangana and/or the other states (detailed process explained in my blogpost)
  3. Immediately post the outcome of the referendum, the Parliament should legislate in favour of creation of the state(s)
  4. Hyderabad cannot be separated from Telangana due to geographical and emotional reasons (and no the real estate investments of people from outside Telangana cannot be a veto factor)
  5. The new state of Telangana will have to give a commitment that non-Telanganites will not be hounded out of the state
  6. The capital cities of the three states can be as follows:
    1. Telangana – Hyderabad
    2. Rayalaseema – Cudappa
    3. Andhra (Konaseema) – Vijayawada (more central than Vizag)
  7. The new states will be allowed to operate out of facilities in Hyderabad until their capital cities are up and running (for a maximum period of 10 years)
  8. Central assistance will be provided to the other two states for building their capital cities
  9. Splitting up of the assets / liabilities of the states can take up to a year, and elections should be held only post that, for the formation of the three separate state legislatures
  10. During this interim period, the current governance structure of AP will continue to be operative
  11. Water distribution can only be settled through a separate tribunal which should be created to recommend water sharing norms, which all the three new states will have to be bound by

The above is a rough roadmap, which can be detailed out through a coordination committee of all political parties in AP.

I completely and strongly support a statement made by Sushma Swaraj (see here) where she threatened to withdraw support to the Telangana movement if suicides continued. The same thing applies to other forms of violence. What sickens me is that political parties are deciding their stand on the basis of crass calculations of votes that they will get and therefore when to time their decision. This is creating further chaos and leading to violence and suicides.

The main thrust of this article is that both the central government as well as all AP parties need to realize and accept that the demand for Telangana is just, historical, and is not going to go away. This needs to be tackled judiciously so that this chaos, which is sapping confidence in the state, is controlled.

I wonder if any of the parties/leaders are up to this challenge?