It Is No Longer Desirable to Keep Andhra as It Exists
By G S Vasu | Published: 16th February 2014 06:00 AM |
For all practical purposes, the Telugu society of Andhra Pradesh is already divided. If Parliament approves the Reorganisation Bill next week, it will only be according constitutional legality to it. Apart from larger issues arising out of Thursday’s episode in the Lok Sabha, it has proved one thing clearly: it is no longer desirable to keep the state as it exists.
The common refrain was that this was all a drama or a scam enacted by shadow players, not in some dark corner but on the hallowed floor of Parliament, to escort Telangana Bill into oblivion. If so, can there be a greater repudiation of faith in democracy? That this drama is being played out in the desperate dying hours of this lamented Lok Sabha also says a lot about the sagacity of our decision-makers who had four years—between 2009 and now—to work towards an understanding, if not consensus, on Telangana, and at least six months to debate the bill.
The unfolding events also give us an insight into the working of the minds of Andhra-Rayalaseema leaders, be it the ‘hero’ of united Andhra campaign, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Opposition Leader N Chandrababu Naidu or MPs like Lagadapati Rajagopal. Between 2010 when he was appointed to now, Kiran Reddy did precious little to keep the state united, without even being sympathetic to Telangana concerns—leave alone addressing them—which was what his brief would have been. All of them approached the bifurcation question not as seasoned and wise leaders but as mischievous boys out to play a prank on the teacher’s pet. At the best of times, their statements betrayed a smug confidence in their own cleverness and contempt for the aspirations of Telangana people. “We know this is not good for you,” they told the people of Telangana, without bothering to say why they seemed to be more concerned about the welfare of Telangana rather than their own welfare. Not just this. If division happens without the concerns of Rayalaseema-Andhra being properly addressed, all of them have to take the blame because none contributed to ensuring justice to the regions they claim to represent.
Creation of a Telangana state is, in a way, secondary compared to the bigger issues that the long-standing demand and the response to it have thrown up. After the pepper attack in Lok Sabha, a friend emailed me a chapter from a book titled Dark Continent which deals with developments in 20th century Europe in which a French critic attributes the reason for fascism’s birth to “the political and social failure of liberal democracy”. In the same chapter, German political scientist Sigmund Neumann points out political dialogue becomes intractable when “one’s partner has already decided on his position before the discussion has begun”.
The singular difference between the first movement for a T state in the late Sixties and now is the change in Telangana society itself—people, particularly those from other than upper castes, are now intellectually and politically more conscious, and see the opportunity and right to rule themselves. The two upper castes, which have ruled this state almost uninterruptedly barring brief accidents, have to face this reality at some point. Maintaining status quo could provide sadistic pleasure to some and political dividends to a few parties, but these are insignificant given the damage it could cause to the social fabric. Accepting ground realities and embracing change have to be fundamental to politics. Because, keeping the society from moving towards a crisis is more important than geographically keeping a state united. Else, we may see pepper canisters on the streets.