India’s geography textbooks will have to add one more State to the existing count of 28. Two more stumbling blocks to the long-pending demand for a separate State created out of the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh were cleared in one momentous evening on Tuesday.
Telangana, an idea almost as old as India’s first reorganisation of states, took a decisive step closer to reality when the UPA coordination committee and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) both endorsed it, unanimously. Paving the way for the formation of the new State, the CWC, highest decision-making body of the party, adopted one of its most directive resolutions “to request the Central government to take steps in accordance with the Constitution to form a separate State of Telangana.”
The operative portion was: “Establish a mechanism to address the concerns of the people of the regions of Andhra, Rayalaseema” and form the new State “within a time frame.” Giving yet another categorical political direction, the CWC resolution asked the Centre “to declare Hyderabad” as “the common capital for both states” - Telangana and Seemandhra - “for a period of 10 years.”
The CWC meeting, inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi, had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only endorsing the move but also suggesting that it would be “good for the development of all the regions of the State.” The two separate entities would take nearly four-five months to take a final shape. As of now, there is no move to attach districts in Rayalaseema - Kurnool and Anantapur - to Telangana, which would have 10 districts, 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly constituencies.
This marks the end of a fractious and prolonged phase of indecision, but inaugurates a new phase of political uncertainty in the short term. The Congress party’s fortunes will hinge on how the region responds to the new realities, and how its role is read on both sides of the new boundary as well as across the nation.