Political leaders, academics, experts and other stakeholders from across the spectrum came together today at a consultation organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy to discuss differing viewpoints pertaining to issues thrown up by the proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the impending creation of the new state of Telangana.
The dialogue focused on ways to find workable solutions to the various contentious issues that have dogged the process of the demerger of Andhra Pradesh.
The consultation, “Dealing with the Costs of Division: A Dialogue Towards Reconciliation”, was attended by representatives of key political parties. They represented a diverse set of viewpoints and included Mr. K. T. Rama Rao (General Secretary, TRS), Mr. Gade Venkat Reddy (senior State Congress leader), Mr. B. V. Raghavalu (State Secretary, CPI-M), Mr. K. Narayana (State Secretary, CPI), Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (President, Lok Satta Party), Mr. Syed Aminul Hasan Jaffri (Senior Journalist and Member of the Legislative Council (AIMIM), Mr. K. Haribabu (National Executive Member, BJP), former member of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, Mr. M.V. Mysura Reddy (Senior leader of the YSR Congress), and Mr. M. Gangadhar (Senior Vice-President, Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee). Between them the representatives, policy practitioners and academics discussed possible ways forward on constitutional, administrative and law and order mechanisms for the formation of the new state.
Welcoming the guests, Dr. Malini Parthasarathy, Director of The Hindu Centre, said that the idea behind the consultation was to “bring together the different voices, all undoubtedly genuine in their concern, to see if common ground can be made between the various positions”, in relation to the creation of Telangana. Click here for the full text of the speech.
K. T. Rama Rao of the TRS described the Telangana movement as a genuine people’s movement for a region that has the right to self-determinism within the legal confines of the Indian constitution. He staked a claim to Hyderabad city as the capital of Telangana, saying, “No investor can claim a city to themselves just because they invested there. Cities belong to the people of the region. Hyderabad belongs to Telangana, Hyderabad is in the hinterland of Telangana and cannot be separated from Telangana”.
B.V. Raghavalu (CPI-M), while criticising the Centre for not initiating any process for political reconciliation between the two sides, said that the contending problems, including the status of Hyderabad and the sharing of river waters, would not be solved even if the two states were formed. “A political solution is the first and foremost need of the hour, following which all the contentious issues can be solved through agreement or arbitration”, he said.
K. Haribabu, National Executive Member of the BJP, said that the central government had not taken into consideration any of the disturbances going on in the state after the announcement by the Congress Working Committee, and, called for the central government to clear the apprehensions of the people from other regions. He said that it was incumbent on the government to start a dialogue with the people who are against the creation of Telangana and address their issues so that the division of the state could be easier.
A central theme of the discussion through the day was that the state and central governments could have done more to reach out beyond political parties to allay the fears of the people with regard to the division. Most panelists agreed that when a decision is taken where there is very little common ground, then it is the moral responsibility of the ruling party to reach out to those affected adversely by the decision. It was felt that the need of the hour was to reach out and allay the fears of the people from Seemandhara.
Participants also discussed the historical claims on Hyderabad city and their validity in the present context. There was unanimity on rejecting the idea of Hyderabad as a union territory or as a joint capital. There was also no question of holding a referendum to decide the future status of Hyderabad. The concerns of the people from Andhra and Rayalaseema on matters relating to the law and order, safety and security and fundamental rights of residents of all regions were also discussed and the demographic changes in Hyderabad over the decades were highlighted. Panelists rejected the idea that the capital of the new state should be decided by the central government. Issues pertaining to the sharing of revenues and liabilities of Hyderabad were also deliberated upon.
A fresh perspective emerged from the discussion on the benefits of investing in and building a new capital for Seemandhara as a magnet for investment. Mr. P. Joy Oommen, Former Chief Secretary, Chhattisgarh, and former Chairman of the Naya Raipur Development Authority, shared his experiences of building a new capital for the State of Chhattisgarh, and suggested that a modern capital for Seemandhara could be designed on the lines of Naya Raipur, which was built in seven years.
Other issues that the panelists discussed pertained to irrigation and agriculture, sharing of river waters, taxation, revenue and resources. The participants agreed that until now the political and institutional processes have gone forward along parallel lines and political decisions have been taken with no corresponding institutional initiatives.
Speakers urged the central government to refer the issues related to the sharing of taxes and revenues to the 14th Finance Commission as soon as possible as they felt that this was the only constitutional way forward to deal with the devolution of fiscal resources.
Eminent academics and public intellectuals who attended the consultation included Mr. Yogendra Yadav (Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies), Dr. Asha Sarangi (Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), Dr. S. Narayan (former Union Finance Secretary and former Chief Economic Advisor to Ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee), Dr. M. Kodandaram, (Chairman, Telangana Joint Action Committee), Government of Andhra Pradesh), Mr. Aniket Alam (Executive Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly) and Mr. Amitabha Pande (former Secretary, the Inter State Council of the Government of India).
Mr. Arun Anant, CEO of Kasturi & Sons Ltd. and Member of the Board of Management, proposed a vote of thanks and said that The Hindu Centre would take forward the outcomes of the proceedings in a constructive way.
Download the report of the consultation here.