The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra has been done rather quickly and without enough preparation. It had to be done anyway but the nitty-gritty of allotting government personnel will have to be handled with sensitivity. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRC) in Telangana and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Seemandhra have emerged victorious in the elections to the two assemblies and to the Lok Sabha. It is now the responsibility of TRC chairman K Chandrasekhara Rao and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, who are set to become chief ministers, to oversee a smooth transition. It is in this context that Rao’s statement that Seemandhra government staff should not continue to stay on in Telangana after the new states come into existence has struck a dissonant note and evoked an angry response from the Naidu as well as the Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officer’s Association. It is a signal that on both sides nerves are frayed and tempers are rising.
The apprehensions are understandable. Apparently, Rao fears that with TDP in alliance with a victorious BJP at the Centre, Hyderabad might slip out of the control of Telangana. The arrangement is that Hyderabad will remain a joint capital of the two states until Seemandhra builds its own capital. The fear in Telangana is Naidu might use his clout in the central government and perpetuate the joint capital status of Hyderabad. But Naidu seems to have acted quickly by indicating that he would want the capital of Seemandhra to be shifted out of Hyderabad as early as possible, and he has sounded out the captains of industry and business to chip in. Naidu also expects to prevail upon Narendra Modi to help Seemandhra with a financial package to build the new capital.
The Seemandhra elite has the economic muscle and imagination to build a capital that would reflect their aspirations. But this needs to be accomplished with goodwill from the Telangana side. It is possible that there will be situations when both sides would want to maximise their advantage and they would be anxious to score brownie points. It is in situations like these that Rao and Naidu will have to prove their leadership credentials and hold back the hotheads in their camps. Whatever may have been the points of friction between Telangana and Seemandhra, the two new states will have to learn to work together on many inter-state projects. Whatever the political rivalry between Rao and Naidu, it cannot be translated into rivalry between the two states.
It will make much sense if the two states understand the complementarity of their economic resources and set in place a cooperative mechanism. It should not be the case that the two states get involved in disputes on various issues, and approach tribunals, commissions, the central government and the Supreme Court to resolve them. This requires generosity of spirit. It is true that the Seemandhra oligarchs took advantage of the social and economic backwardness in Telangana, and those in Telangana have nursed deep resentment over the years. It is time to let bygones be bygones and look to the future. Telangana leaders owe it to the people of the new state to think positively and overcome the disadvantages that have accrued over the years. It will not do to blame the Andhra’s anymore for Telangana’s developmental woes.