Telangana's Creation Symbolises Struggle of Those Ruled by Force, not Good Governance - The New Indian Express

Telangana's Creation Symbolises Struggle of Those Ruled by Force, not Good Governance

Published: 23rd February 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 23rd February 2014 01:05 AM

History is replete with tales of monarchs and plutocrats warring over land in a manner that would put Tolstoy to shame. In the meantime, it is the destiny of the poor to be engaged in a diuturnal fight for survival. At the time the 29th state of India was being born last week, California, one of the world’s richest geographical territories, was struggling to stay indiscerptible. A signature campaign led by billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper was underway to seek division of the 38 million-strong California district into six small states. According to a report, Draper justified his move by stating “political representation of California’s diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable”. His logic sounded lofty. But the real motive behind Divide CA was to insulate the Valley from increasing power of other parts of the state dominated by immigrants and the less affluent, whose cultural and economic values were impacting the lifestyle of the Valley’s techies. With over $2 trillion GDP, California is the 8th richest state in any country, with a significant portion of its wealth coming from the world’s InfoTech capital which is also home to Google, Apple, Facebook, Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

In India, the battle for and against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh symbolised the fight to retain fief and feudality than protecting the interest of the underprivileged. A close scrutiny of those who stormed the well of both Houses of Parliament opposing the creation of Telangana reveals that all of them—whom Alexander Pope could have described as those who “ride in the whirlwind and direct the storm”—were from Andhra. Almost all were billionaires holding high stakes in Hyderabad and areas which would go to Telangana. They were so concerned with protecting their material interests that they violated the concept of collective responsibility of the Cabinet. Central ministers from Andhra were openly defying the Cabinet’s T-decision and disrupting parliamentary proceedings. It is for the first time in India’s democratic history that a bill to create a new state was passed without holding a formal vote. The state’s bifurcation has exposed the ruling elite fighting to retain its grip over India’s politics and economics. Belated wisdom dawned on the Congress only when the epiphany struck that the creation of a picayune state would be a powerful instrument not only to contain local satraps but also to create new ones in smaller-sized Telangana. For the BJP’s Telugu cockarouses, survival was an issue. In its ranks are leaders who lack local followers. Some of its paladins with powerful links to Andhra’s corporate world attempted to reverse the party’s commitment to Telangana, but party president Rajnath Singh and PM candidate Narendra Modi foiled their attempts even at the cost of the loss of potential allies.

With Telangana a reality, fresh debates loom over the division of other states such as West Bengal, UP, Maharashtra and Assam. It wasn’t just a coincidence that the ruling parties in these states opposed the T bill. A Trinamool MP planted himself in the well of the Upper House for almost the whole day to register his party’s opposition to the bill. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and NCP also expressed their oppugnancy. The antagonism towards division is coming from those parties and political confreres whose vote base is not evenly spread across their states. Their strategy is to concentrate on chosen regions, enabling them to win a majority and thereafter take over the entire state. In Andhra, the followers of Chandrababu Naidu and Jagan Mohan Reddy are largely limited to coastal regions. In UP, SP’s vote banks are concentrated in central and eastern parts of the state whereas Mayawati’s base is distributed in all districts. Both Congress and BJP are opposed to the idea of dividing the state because they lack pan-UP influence. No wonder, Mayawati wrote a letter to the Centre asking for the state to be divided into four smaller geographical regions because she knows that she would be able to win at least three, helped by BSP’s caste and religious combinations. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee and the CPI(M) oppose the creation of Gorkhaland because the following of both parties is negligible in the Himalayan shadows. In Assam, the Congress, under the hegemony of wealthy castes, is opposing the creation of tribal-dominated Bodoland. In Maharashtra, none of the parties desire the formation of Vidarbha because it means they would lose clout over one-third of the state.

A disparate coalition of political parties, even ones opposed to each another, prevent all attempts to appoint a second States Reorganisation Commission. NDA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee was able to create three new states—Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand—because he could use and impose his will and authority over warring factions. It was the only case of bloodless division since Independence. All three are doing much better than before. But the absence of any real wealth also helped facilitate their birth. Earlier, the division of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Andhra and Tamil Nadu, and Punjab and Haryana were violent exercises over control of their capitals—Madras, Bombay and Chandigarh. Then, differences between Jawaharlal Nehru and Morarji Desai had risen over Bombay. Then Bombay finance minister C D Deshmukh resigned over the proposal to divide the state after pressure from the Gujarati community. The differences, however, could be resolved thanks to the maturity displayed by big leaders with small egos, who sat across the table and negotiated solutions. Now, when the people of ignored regions who are discriminated against are revolting against the establishment, small leaders with big egos are captaining the country towards chaos. Telangana’s creation symbolises the struggle of those who have been ignored and were ruled by force and not through good governance. The division of India into 50 smaller states would not only make good politics but better economics as well.

Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawlaw

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