A development that has gone unnoticed amidst all the events surrounding the question of state bifurcation is the deployment of paramilitary forces in select cities/towns of Andhra Pradesh.
In what is being interpreted as a pointer to the Centre’s likely take on the statehood issue, TNIE has learnt that two companies of RAF and CRPF have been sent to Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Anantapur, Kadapa, Chittoor, Hyderabad and Cyberabad each.
The instructions that went to the police heads of the respective cities and towns was that these forces are not meant for the ongoing local body elections and should be used only to contain agitations and law and order consequences arising thereof.
The choice of the places where the forces are deployed is being interpreted in many ways. One, they are sent to places where universities are located as students will be among the first to join if an agitation breaks out. In Rayalaseema, other than Anantapur which has a university, Kadapa and Chittoor have been picked as there could be trouble if Delhi goes ahead with its proposal to merge the districts of Kurnool and Anantapur with Telangana. Alternatively, there could be trouble, including in Anantapur, if Delhi finally decides to stick to giving just the Telangana state with 10 districts.
According to informed sources, the forces are also stationed in Hyderabad and Cyberabad to instil confidence among non-Telanganites in the capital if bifurcation is done and to quell any trouble that could be caused by certain elements in the euphoria of having secured a separate State.
Interestingly, the deployment happened exactly around the time the Congress core group met in Delhi on July 12, a day on which many expected a decision on the contentious issue. They have remained in these cities/towns since and there is no further advisory from the Home Ministry.
Sections in the government are reading this move by Delhi as yet another indicator that the UPA is finally veering round to splitting the State though there still remains an outside chance of Congress leadership chickening out at the last minute from taking such a decisive step.