Telangana has come into being as the 29th state with K Chandrasekhar Rao, leader of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, as the first chief minister. Soon, Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu will be sworn in as the chief minister of what is left of Andhra Pradesh. While the mood in Telangana is celebratory, the one in the Seemandhra region is sombre. Separations are always painful and the vivisection of the first state created on the basis of the language formula is no different. The heart-burning it caused was also reflected in the electoral campaign in which leaders from the two regions blamed each other for the ills that afflicted the united state.
However, Rao and Naidu cannot remain prisoners of the past. They have to look forward to working together in the best interests of the people they represent. They may have adopted antagonistic positions on many issues but they have to reconcile differences and find a common path. For now, they must find ways to complete the process of division. State employees have to be given a choice and all assets—water resources and power, for instance—have to be divided according to a mutually-agreed principle. They cannot escape deciding how the issue of state capital can be settled with the least inconvenience to each other. All this calls for political wisdom and sagacity.
Governor E S L Narasimhan has wisely suggested a consultative process for dispute resolution which the two chief ministers can adopt. Of course, it is not the first time that a state has been divided to form a new one. Assam was divided many times. States like Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were all created after prolonged agitation by the people of the respective areas. But once the new states came into being, there has not been much recrimination between the new ones and the old ones. Development is not hinged on either assets or size. What matters is the hard work of the people. Providing the necessary leadership is, therefore, the real challenge for Rao and Naidu.