Hope for better days for the two Telugu States soared on eagles wings when Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao pointed out that it was time for hand-shakes and not for rapier thrusts at the swearing in ceremony of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as AP chief minister at Vijayawada on Thursday.It looked as though the tone has been set for the continuation of the new-found bonhomie between the two leaders in future too which is the pressing need for both Telangana and Andhra as inter-State issues remain like festering sores even after five years of bifurcation of the State in 2014.
The main bone of contention between the two States had been sharing of Krishna river waters though there has not been much discord on Godavari. There have been instances of officials from both the States fighting over share of water at the meetings held by the Krishna River Management Board in Hyderabad. This apart there are a host of other issues that remain unresolved like sharing of assets in Hyderabad, division of 89 institutions under schedule nine and 107 institutions under schedule 10 of the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014 and so on.
The Telangana Chief Minister, while speaking at Jagan Mohan Reddy’s swearing in ceremony, pointed out that both the States should utilise every drop of Krishna water while suggesting that AP could benefit a lot from Godavari, since nearly 3,500 tmcft water goes into the sea, which is considered an unconscionable waste. He pointed out that AP should divert Godavari water to Krishna and from there through gravity take it to Rayalaseema.
The first move towards normalisation of relations between the two sibling States came from Telangana when it readily consented to relieve IPS Officer Stephen Ravindra to go on deputation to AP to be appointed as its intelligence chief. In a quid pro quo, AP is considering Telangana’s request for handing over the Secretariat buildings under its control.
Ever since Jagan Mohan Reddy won the AP Assembly elections with an overwhelming majority, winds of change began blowing in both the States. It was as though the two States had never fought with each other. The bitter rancour and mutual recrimination that marked the relations between the two States seemed to be yielding space to a spirit of conciliation and accommodation.
A number of flexies sprang up in Hyderabad hailing Jagan’s historic victory in AP, which is a rare sight. A number of Telangana people went to Vijayawada to watch Jagan Mohan Reddy’s swearing ceremony. It was a departure from the days of N Chandrababu Naidu who was always treated as persona non-grata in Telangana and his visits to the Telangana capital were taken with a pinch of salt as the people believe he had hurt the interests of Telangana when he was the chief minister of the undivided State till 2004. Though Naidu did his best in 2018 Assembly elections to retrieve a little of the vast ground that he had lost in Telangana, the people had sent him back to AP, by defeating Telugu Desam Party.
In a stark contrast, after Jagan’s stunning vicotry in the Assembly elections, Chandrasekhar Rao invited him to his residence and when he arrived Rao came out and received him and his family. In a gesture of reciprocation, the AP leader invited KCR to his swearing in ceremony which the latter obliged. He led relatively large contingent of TRS leviathans to Vijayawada where he was received warmly. He was made to sit along with Jagan’s family members.
There are indications that this warmth and light hearted-banter between the two leaders would soon lead to official teams from both the States sitting together and hammer out solution to the contentious inter-State issues including river water sharing. As far as handing over buildings under its control might not be a problem now as the AP government is not using any of them anyway. The buildings under AP’s control in the Secretariat in Hyderabad are lying vacant and the AP government reportedly had not been paying power or water charges since it was not using them.
KCR’s intention to go an extra mile to protect the interest of the people of the two Telugu states has earned accolades from people of both the States. Now Jagan’s response as a matter of policy for rapprochement with Telangana is awaited. There is a hope the response would be positive and that it would ring down curtain on frayed tempers and inflamed passions.