After results in four northern states Congress In AP Pushed To Defensive
The Congress’ political move to push decade-old pending Telangana state formation into forefront just few months ahead of 2014 elections is likely to backfire in Andhra Pradesh. The Union Cabinet after two and half hours discussions on December 5, 2013, cleared report of the Group of Ministers (GoP) on Telangana and also draft Telangana Bill. On the next day, the bill was sent to President’s consideration.
In its anxiety to get Parliament nod for the Telangana Bill during the winter session the Congress high command is moving swiftly. In fact, it wanted the GoM to clear the draft bill by November 7. But for the President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention, who reportedly conveyed his displeasure over attempts to bypassing the conventional process to the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, the Centre was forced to again summon representatives of various political parties from the state seeking their point of view.
The Congress president Sonia Gandhi has suddenly decided to go ahead on Telangana issue, four months ago expecting that it would yield high political returns in Telangana region, though it may be wiped out in Seemandhra region. Though, the sub-regional party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao repeatedly promised to merge his party with Congress once Telangana bill is passed in the Parliament.
As prevailing political scenario in Andhra Pradesh worrying the Congress that it may not get more than three or four Lok Sabha seats as against present 33 seats, Sonia Gandhi is said to have tried to use `Telangana’ as a masterstroke to change political equations in the state. It may be recalled that a number of MPs elected from Andhra Pradesh helped Congress form the government at the Centre both in 2004 and in 2009. With Telangana, the Congress expected to corner about 15 out of 17 seats from Telangana region. In Seemandhra region, it reportedly reached an understanding with YSR Congress Party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy, son of former Congress Chief Minister Dr YS Rajasekahra Reddy, to extend support for Congress after the polls. After party high command denied making him Chief Minister following death of his father, Jaganmohan Reddy revolted against party leadership and formed his own party.
With sympathy wave, YSR Congress Party is expecting to win about 20 of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Seemandhra region. Only after getting assurance from Jaganmohan Reddy, he was facilitated to come out from the prison on bail after spending 16 months. Vijayawada Congress MP Lagadapati Rajgopal openly alleged that Jaganmohan Reddy became `adopted’ son of Congress high command, so neglecting other Congress leaders in the region. To the disadvantage of the Congress, just a week prior to the Union Cabinet giving nod to Telangana Bill, Justice Brijesh Kumar Tribunal on Krishna Water dispute delivered its final verdict causing heartburning to the people of Andhra Pradesh. All the political parties unanimously expressed their displeasure over the verdict and alleged it had favoured Karnataka and Maharashtra at the cost of Andhra Pradesh. For the first time since Independence, Andhra Pradesh’s right over surplus waters was curtailed by the tribunal.
Rubbing salt to injury, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is now saying that Brijesh Kumar will be assigned the task of monitoring Krishna and Godavari water distribution among newly formed Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states, after bifurcation of the state. Referring to the award given by the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal, Telugu Desam Party chief and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu lamented that the state would have to depend on the ‘mercy’ of the Centre to get required water once the tribunal judgment was notified in the gazette.
He found fault with the tribunal for allocating 447 tmc feet of water to two upper riparian states without consulting AP. Taking strong exception to the tribunal’s direction that it would monitor water flows between three states, he alleged that the Centre snatched away the ‘powers’ of the state government in getting its allocated water from Krishna. Naidu also questioned the Union government’s announcement to take up Polavaram as a national project when the issue is sub judice. ‘
Renowned environment activist Dr S Jeevananda Reddy urged the UPA government to stop the destruction of Andhra Pradesh through bifurcation of the state and also Krishna Tribunal order, awarded recently. In a letter to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and AICC President Sonia Gandhi he sought to cancel the politically motivated report of Brijesh Kumar Tribunal award on Krishna Water and take stringent action against the judges who are the members of the tribunal.
Dr Reddy, Convenor of Forum for a Sustainable Environment, deplored that the decision of Brijesh Kumar Tribunal on Krishna water sharing and AP bifurcation affect the lives of people from all the three regions of Andhra Pradesh. He lamented that the politicians from the three regions were interested on the real estate business in the capital city. Meanwhile, the assembly results in four northern states clearly indicating massive anti-Congress wave in the country, both TRS and YSR Congress Party are now re-thinking on their proximity with the Congress. TRS chief Chandrasekhar Rao has already announced that his party will go alone in the forthcoming polls stating that they need to form the government in the newly formed Telangana state to fulfill the promised made by them to the people for the overall development of the region.
YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy is sensing people’s resentment over his reported proximity with the Congress and is striving hard to give up that image. By meeting leaders of various regional parties, visiting different state capitals and also leaders of various national political parties, including BJP, he is trying to give a message that his options after polls are open.
By referring to propose `federal front’ idea with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee during his meeting with her in Kolkata and having one-to-one meeting with BJP President Rajnath Singh in Delhi, besides praising Narendra Modi’s administration in Gujarat at a press meet, he is trying to send mixed signals. These developments are worrying Congress. In spite of extensive exercise, the Telangana Bill failed to please none of the region. While the people in Seemandhra region are unhappy that none of their concerns were addressed, except for some casual assurances not a single specific assurance was provided to clear their fears, now the Congress leaders are losing their face before people. Even in Telangana region, people are unhappy for making Hyderabad as joint capital for a period of ten years, giving administrative powers on the Hyderabad city to the Governor during this period. They fear this would impose `Centre’s rule’ on their head. TRS chief Chief Chandrasekhar Rao has openly said he has some reservations over the draft bill.
Besides all these, open defiance by the Chief Minister N Kirankumar Reddy became another headache for the Congress high command. At the present juncture, they cannot replace him or sail with him. Speaking at a public meeting in Vijayawada on December 7, 2013, he challenged the party high command that he would see how they would go ahead with Telangana bill in the Parliament. Kiran Reddy dared Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the Telangana Bill passed in the Parliament. He said that he would ensure that the bill was defeated in the Assembly and challenged the high command to get it passed in Parliament. “I want to see how the Parliament would pass a bill that was defeated in the Assembly,” he thundered amidst claps and whistles from the gathering. “Is this reward being given to the people of Andhra Pradesh for coming to the rescue of two generations of Congress leadership whenever they were in trouble”, he asked while referring how the state is extending all kinds of support to Nehru-Gandhi family whenever they were isolated in the national politics.
No other Congress Chief Minister in recent history dared to make such comments against Congress first family. He publicly hinted that his party leadership had struck a secret deal with the YSRCP. He also declared that he would not allow bifurcation of the state, come what may. For the first time, a Congress Chief Minister addressed an official public meeting without having pictures of either Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh.
By Ch Narendra from Hyderabad