3 Dec, 2013, 04.00AM IST
By C H Hanumantha Rao
The idea of Rayala Telangana was floated and kept alive even as the UPA and the Congress Working Committee resolved to create the separate state of Telangana.
The proposed Bill for the creation of a separate state of Telangana prepared by the Group of Ministers for the approval of the cabinet on December 3, contains an alternative proposal to carve out a Rayala Telangana by adding to the 10 districts of Telangana, two districts of Rayalaseema, Kurnool and Anantapur.
This writer had argued against splitting Rayalaseema to merge one part with Telangana and another with coastal Andhra, prompted by short-term political advantages arising from demographics of religion and caste. However, developments in the last three months have served to question even the short-term political gains from such a move. Indeed, one sees a certainty of severe political backlash both in the Telangana and Seemandhra regions in the runup to elections in 2014, in the event of a move for Rayala Telangana.
The political coalition of privileged social groups which had a sway in the integrated Andhra Pradesh for over five decades cannot be a dependable guide for seeing how new alliances are going to emerge in the two states after bifurcation. In the process of the movement for separate statehood for Telangana over the last decade a powerful alliance of hitherto neglected social groups has emerged. This consists largely of backward and scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and religious minorities. They are represented by the Joint Action Committees of innumerable professions. In the separate state of Telangana their political clout is going to be decisive, relegating the privileged social groups to the secondary position.
The idea of Rayala Telangana was floated and kept alive even as the UPA and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) resolved to create the separate state of Telangana. The idea of Rayala Telangana has been received with widespread scorn and hostility in Telangana because it would undermine its regional identity and also gloss over severe misgivings from the past experience of being together with Seemandhra. If the issue has not sparked off another movement in Telangana so far, it is because the Union government had virtually approved the decision of the CWC to create Telangana with 10 districts, including Hyderabad.
Any change in this decision now would provoke a movement, undermining the prospects of unity and pre-electoral alliance between the major political formations, including the ruling party, working for the formation of separate Telangana state.
This would be a big blow to the prospects for development of the newly created state – a region already much ravaged by protracted agitations. A change in the decision will also add fuel to the movement in Seemandhra against bifurcation of the state, as it will be seen as a device for dividing people engaged in the movement.
If the idea behind dividing Rayalaseema is to strengthen the underprivileged social groups in Seemandhra then the move would be unnecessary and even counterproductive.
As it is, there are enough indications that the underprivileged groups will come together as a major political force in a smaller state of Andhra Pradesh. The division of Rayalaseema can only hamper this process by creating avoidable misgivings. The biggest loser in this process is Rayalaseema itself – the most backward region in the present state. There will, of course, be stiff resistance to the move from the people because of their strong regional identity.
Like any backward area, the development of this region requires not merely some water for irrigation or some other input but, above all, political clout for self-esteem and holistic development which it will lose in the event of its division. As a consequence there is bound to be a protracted movement for the unification of Rayalaseema, and possibly for separate statehood, undermining political stability and development in both the newly-created states, with the common people of Rayalaseema becoming the worst sufferers.
(The author is chancellor, University of Hyderabad, and Honorary Professor, Centre for Economic and social Studies)