The untimely demise of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy could not have happened at a worse time. The sequence of events that happened post his death proved the same. If initially it was a major political crisis that erupted with respect to the nomination of a candidate as the next chief minister of the state, later on, it was the demand of K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) for a separate state of Telangana that turned one of the most prosperous and properly administered states into a virtual battleground. The state, which for a very long period has been in the news for its strides in Information Technology and the successful battle against Maoists, is now in the news for all the wrong reasons. True to its style, the government at the Centre easily gave in to the demands of K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who was quick to realise the political vacuum that was created by the death of YSR and found the revival of Telangana movement for a separate state an ideal platform to re-launch his political career graph.
But what was most surprising was the manner in which the decision makers at the Centre and especially in the Congress High Command believed in what they saw in the media and steered according to the way it was ill-advised by some political opportunists who thought that a formal announcement by the Centre to create a separate state would douse the flames that had erupted in Hyderabad and were engulfing almost the entire state. Thus, with the formal announcement of the Centre about its intent to create a separate state like Telangana, for KCR, victory (subsequent to his tactically timed fasting) was imminent. But what he and the decision makers at the Centre did not gauge was the extent to which anti-Telangana sentiments prevail in the state. The resignation drama in the Andhra Pradesh assembly that followed, forced the government to be on the back foot again. But by then, the damage was already done. Even before the Central Government realised its folly in hurrying up the creation of a new state – although not surprising – newer and rather ridiculous demands for newer states started emanating from different regions of the country. There have been fresh movements for trifurcation of Uttar Pradesh into Harit Pradesh and Poorvanchal, and also a shocking Bundelkhand with some regions of Madhya Pradesh too. There have been demands for Gorkhaland, Greater Cooch Behar, Kamtapur as also Vidharba. What is disgusting is that in many cases, these demands for new states have had one individual proponent whose political career depended solely upon the creation of the new states. Thus, while there is Bimal Gurung in Gorkhaland, who has literally isolated that place from rest of West Bengal, there is Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal for Harit Pradesh, and then once-upon-a-time part-time actor Raja Bundela leading the Bundelkhand campaign.
The two issues that need attention here are: One, would these proposed new states be viable on their own or not? Two, should new states be created merely to fulfil the political ambitions of struggling politicians? Can states like Bundelkhand or Gorkhaland ever be viable on their own without external support? In the issue of the Telangana movement, Hyderabad is a wonderful case in point. One of the most critical grudges of the pro-Telangana agitators is that the whole region has been deprived of all development which has gone to the coastal regions. Yet, in the last one decade or so, Andhra Pradesh has become synonymous with the incredible development of Hyderabad and its prominence as the pioneering hub of information technology. Now, this development in the once notorious Hyderabad was not brought about by the people of Telangana but by the people of Andhra Pradesh as a whole. Today, Telangana cannot ask for Hyderabad just like that. Billions of dollars have been invested there by people who are not originally from Telangana. Similarly, the calls for a Gorkhaland to be made into a separate state curved out of West Bengal are absurd because, for example, the hill-station of Darjeeling is completely dependent on millions of tourists coming every year from the plain-land of Bengal, and is also dependent on the trade of tea, for which Kolkata is the hub.
The last three states that were curved out in India were Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh. Barring Uttarakhand to some extent, there hasn’t been much development in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Both have literally failed to tackle the problem of Naxalism; and corruption is rampant. The common man there is not far better off than what they were before the creation of the states. Of course, people like Madhu Koda have made billions by making the best of the political instability in terms of number games in the legislative assembly.
All in all, even if India needs to create smaller states for better administration, the objective to create such states should be purely based on better governance and overall development rather than caste, creed, religion or regionalism as that would only divide India more. More than that, it is an extremely dangerous precedence to set for the future!
- 17 December 2009 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics