Can Andhra Pradesh reinvent itself after losing Telangana?

Digvijaya Singh announced the resolution for the new state . PTI

Digvijaya Singh announced the resolution for the new state . PTI

So the decision has been taken finally. Telangana was probably never destined to be part of Andhra Pradesh. Common language - the raison d’etre for the creation of states in India - was not glue strong enough to keep different parts of the state together. The UPA’s decision today, endorsing the separate state of Telangana, is only acknowledgement of this reality. The issue was as much about identity as about compatibility and neither was satisfied by the existing situation.

While announcing the formation of Telangana after a Congress Working Committee meet, party general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the new state would comprise 10 districts and Hyderabad would be the joint capital for 10 years from the date of the formation of Telangana.

A new capital for the Seemandhra region will be developed eventually. The move was earlier cleared by the UPA’s coordination committee. The nuances of the process of separation are not in the public domain yet, but the decision should offer those spearheading the separate state movement some sense of closure.

Also, it addresses the issues of identity and compatibility. The hunger for a separate identity among the people of the region was evident at the time of Independence. It took Operation Polo from the Indian Army for the annexation of the princely state of Hyderabad - the geographical spread of which roughly corresponded to the present day Telangana region - in 1948.

There was massive local resentment in 1956 when the region was merged with present day Andhra Pradesh. Not many among political figures, including Jawaharlal Nehru, were convinced fully that the merger was tenable or even justified. Now that the separation has happened, it should not surprise those familiar with the history of the demand for statehood.

The creation of Telangana is certainly a blow, economic and otherwise, to the other regions of Andhra Pradesh. It accounts for close to 75 percent of the state’s revenues, almost the whole of its coal reserves and 45 percent of its forested area. Besides, a major portion of the catchment areas of rivers Krishna and Godavari lie in this region. After the bifurcation of the state it becomes the upper riparian state which comes with its distinct advantages.

And, of course, there’s the big Hyderabad question. If the city, the hub of economic activities in the state, goes to the new state, the other part of Andhra Pradesh state is left with virtually nothing. Hyderabad accounts for 55 percent of the state’s revenues and 65 percent of the Union government’s revenues.

It is also a huge investment destination for people from the Rayalaseema and coastal regions. The formation of the new state threatens to jeopardise a lot of lives. But Hyderabad, given its geographical location, cannot stay separate from the new state.

Passionate reactions are expected and there will be a serious political price to pay, not only for the Congress and other parties too. The Congress has avoided the folly of adding two Rayalaseema districts to the new state. And there’s no clear signal on how is it going to benefit from the decision electorally, unless of course, the TRS decides to merge with it.

A lot of work still needs to be done, particularly in the area of division of resources and water-sharing arrangement, and it might take a year more for the new state to be officially formed. The Seemandhra region, which has a reason to feel cheated, could actually gain from the division. The business and construction activities associated with the new capital city could give its economy a fillip.

Surely, the end of this unnatural coexistence could only be good for both sides in the long run.

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