Governor Brokered ‘Truce’ Between Political Rivals Chandrababu And KCR
Governor ESL Narasimhan, who is the Governor for two new states of Andhra Pradesh and Telanglana has succeeded in bringing about a truce between chief ministers of two states N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao, who have been bitter political rivals for long. Though both of them failed to reach a consensus on major issues and remained on a war path over contentious issues such as governor’s special powers in Hyderabad and controversial household survey in Telangana, they yielded for coming down a step from their rigidness. Taking an unusual initiative, Naras-imhan advised them to sit together, discuss issues cropped up between two states and attempt to find a solution keeping in view the interests of people for both the states. Indicating his unhappiness over resorting to verbal contradictions in public on various issues, seeking Centre’s intervention and opting to approach higher courts seeking justice, he practically admonished them. He stated “it’s not good to seek push all such issues to the Center or courts for solution.” Strongly advocating them first to discuss among themselves, he suggested “If you failed to reach some consensus I will try to intervene and later only we may refer to the Centre or approach courts.”
When both the chief ministers visited Raj Bhavan on Independence Day to attend ‘High Tea’ hoisted by him, Governor had a closed-door meeting with them for about 45 minutes and made them to accept mutual talks. Without giving them time to relax, immediately in two days on August 17, he arranged a meeting at Raj Bhavan only.
Both the chief ministers, accompanied by their chief secretaries, speakers of legislative assemblies and some other senior officials, held a meeting for about two hours. Governor was present during first half hour and left them to discuss themselves. In the meeting both the chief ministers agreed to solve the contentious issues between the two states through talks and mutual cooperation.
KCR SAYS, TALKS FRUITFUL
Both the chief ministers told reporters after the meeting that the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and with “give and take” approach. It was the first formal meeting between the two to discuss the issues arising out of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh since they formed governments in June. The meeting was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere.
Terming it a good beginning, Chandrasekhar Rao said after the meeting that the talks were fruitful. “If necessary we will meet two to three times to sort out the issues,” said Rao, who is also chief of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). According to him, the discussion was held on three key issues—on legislature accommodation (sharing of legislature buildings), distribution of employees and sharing of state-level educational institutions.
“Issue of legislators’ accommodation has been resolved. On distribution of employees, Kamalanathan committee has been set up. The committee is looking into distribution of 67,000 employees belonging to the state cadre, of which 22,000 vacancies are there. And only 45,000 employees are to be divided. We have told chief secretaries to sit and discuss the issue…they will sort out that problem,” he added. As bifurcation of majority of 45,000 employees was already completed, he said the two officials would address the problem with regard to remaining few hundred employees.
He said they sought to move ahead with the same spirit of cooperation, because the two states are mutually dependent. Telangana being a land locked state may need to get its imports from Machilipatnam port in Andhra Pradesh. On issue of educational institutes, he said, “Institutions will finally go to the state where they are presently located.”
He said the meeting has decided to address other issues including the one related to institutions located in Hyderabad as per the agreed guidelines. He also informed that both chief ministers had decided to go to the Center, if needed on issues of mutual interests.
NAIDU SAYS, POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT
On the other hand, Chandrababu Naidu described the talks between the two governments as a positive development. “Bitterness has cropped up between the two sides. These discussions would reduce that. It is good for people. Give and take is needed. We need to move ahead in a spirit of cooperation. This meeting would help towards sorting out those issues,” he said.
He hoped the meeting would go a long way in removing bitterness between the two states and finding an amicable solution to all problems.”We are two states but we are one as Telugu people. It is only through talks that we can solve all our problems,” said Naidu, also the TDP president.
He said they have decided both the states should cooperate for the wellbeing of Telugu people and realised attitude of confrontations would only results in miseries. They also want to seek the Center to cooperate for doing justice to both the states and also cooperate in providing necessary funds and policies.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary I.Y.R. Kishna Rao, his Telangana counterpart Rajiv Sharma, AP assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, his Telangana counterpart Madhu-sudhan Chary and some other officials also attended the meeting.
It may be recalled that the CMs of both the new states are at loggerheads and are involved in a verbal tussle over free reimbursement to poor students, period for nativity, sharing of electricity, distribution of employees, building sharing of government institutions, demolition of illegal structures in Hyderabad, merger of seven mandals in Khammam district under Polavaram project with Andhra Pradesh, AP government seeking Governor rule over Hyderabad among others. Though both the chief ministers are residing in the same area, they could not meet even formally in recent times. First, they met and exchanged formal greetings at Begumpet Airport in the city during early August while receiving president Pranab Mukherjee. Incidentally, this was in the presence of Governor.
Second time again, they met at Raj Bhavan on Independence day. It was Governor’s diplomacy that seems to have paid rich dividends. Governor succeeded in persuading them by reminding them “you both are senior politicians with vast experience and also had earlier worked together.”
Welcoming Governor’s initiative, Chandrababu Naidu stated that he had always been advocating discussing issues together and said: “I have no ego to meet him (Rao). In fact I have written him a letter also for a dialogue.” Then, Rao also reportedly responded positively stating: “If there is a chance to resolve issues through dialogue I am also ready.”
UNANIMITY ON LAPSES OF BIFURCATION BILL
All three of them also admitted that as the state bifurcation bill is not clear on many issues it is bound to create lot of confusions and problems to both the states. Both the CMs decided first to start dialogue at official level. At the same time, Governor also advised speakers of both the assemblies to resolve issues like sharing buildings and chambers in Assembly premises amicably. Expressing concern that tensions are mounting in allocation of rooms in Assembly premises, he told speakers Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao (AP) and S Madhusudhana Chary (TS) to sit together and discuss on all issues.
“You have experience of working together earlier”, the Governor told them indicating they both were in TDP earlier. Speakers said they were already in the process and till now met three times.
Earlier in the day, on Independence Day, hoisting national flag at Kurnool (the capital of erstwhile Andhra between 1953 and 1956 before the united Andhra Pradesh came into being), Chandrababu Naidu made a fervent appeal to his Telangana counterpart Chandr-asekhar Rao for a dialogue to resolve all contentious issues surfacing between two states.
“All the Telugu people together developed the (undivided) state. We (both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governments) should sit together and sort out our issues. We are ready to sit and we need to cooperate with each other. We should not spread hatred among Telugu people,” Naidu suggested. He also said that there are other forums available if the consensus is not arrived between the two states on any issue.
POLITICS OF COMPULSION
The two chief ministers seem to be posing a ‘soft face’ only to divert public attention as they started questioning them for their failures of meeting any one of major poll promises, even after ten weeks in office. Their confrontation attitude became clear with their rigid attitude even after the meeting.
After the meeting, Rao questioned the special powers bestowed upon him by the Centre and threatened to defy its diktat. “The Government of India has no powers to direct us to hand over special powers to the Governor. The Telangana Governor is as powerful as the Maharashtra Governor and there is nothing special about it,” Chandrasekhar Rao said. “If they really want to vest the special powers on the Governor, enabling him to control law and order in Hyderabad, then they must bring in a constitutional amendment,” he added.
Naidu, on the other hand, chose to differ on the issue.”Law and order in Hyderabad is the concern of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as the city has been made the common capital for 10 years. We must ensure the safety of all the citizens in the city even after 10 years,” he commented after the meeting. While blaming the former UPA government for the confusion and accusing the Congress of mishandling the state bifurcation, Naidu sought the Centre’s intervention and demanded framing of guidelines on the Governor’s special powers, based on the AP State Reorganisation Act.
By Ch Narendra from Hyderabad