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Telangana bill: A brief history of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 - 6:03pm IST | Place: Hyderabad/ Mumbai | Agency: dna Shadow Editorial Board
The passing of the Telangana bill creates more issues than it solves.

After several days of debate and discussion, including a pepper spray attack by a Seemandhra MP, on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha finally approved the Telangana bill. The bill will now continue for the consideration of the Rajya Sabha and the President; following which, India will get its 29th state. Telangana will comprise of 10 districts of Telugu origin, while the rest of the state, known as Seemandhra, will consist of 13 other districts. As confirmed by the Union Cabinet earlier this month, Hyderabad will be a joint capital for 10 years, following which it will belong to the state of Telangana.

Telangana has been a highly disputed region ever since it was formally merged into Andhra Pradesh in 1956. There were safeguards provided for the Telugu-speaking people in the form of a document known as the Gentlemen's Agreement. In fact, the ill implementation of these safeguards is one of causes for the struggle for bifurcation.

Since 1969 there have been protests and objections to the state of the Telugu people. Though, the Centre was formally involved in 2009 when following the death of the then CM of Andhra Pradesh, YSR Reddy, the TRS party demanded that the Congress introduce a bill for Telangana in the Lok Sabha. In opposition to this, Jaganmohan Reddy formed the YSR Congress. There were also movements such as the Samaikyandhra Movement; in a bid to keep Andhra Pradesh united.

However, 2014 has been the most decisive year in terms of action taken; with the Union Cabinet as well as the Lok Sabha approving the bill within a month.

There are several speculations as to what lead up to the announcement by the Congress in July last year, as well as the approval by the Cabinet and Parliament. The most glaring reason is that the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is simply vote bank politics. Incidentally, the Justice B.N. Srikirshna report on “Committee for Consultations on Situations in Andhra Pradesh”, which was released in 2010, advised that keeping in mind the interest of the greater good, the state must be kept united.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, which creates the new state of Telangana, has made the population ratio as the framework for allocation of assets and liabilities, including the public debt, between Telangana and the residual state of Andhra Pradesh.

The bifurcation of the state has several economic implications. The tension and uncertainity in Hyderabad which will be acting as the joint capital, would affect the flow of investments in the city, especially the IT sector. Additionally, the economic costs of the bifurcation and the assets will be high. Unemployment rates will increase as the population is being divided on a linguistic basis, and people of Telugu origin will rush to the new state, and vice-versa; leaving the administration in tatters. The division of assets and officials, the sharing of common resources and particularly sharing of water and energy will be a major problem.

Telangana has sparked of talks and ideas of division of land in other states as well; one of several is the demand for creation of a separate state called Vidarbha from the territory in Maharashtra. The ideology of dividing a state based on linguistic differences, or on any such basis is detrimental to the unity and security of the country.

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