Monday, March 07, 2016

What is left of Andhra Pradesh?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two states; the new and reduced Andhra Pradesh (“AP”) and the new state of Telangana, the new and reduced state of AP has been a step child of the central government, with neither the old government that divided the state, nor the new government that is in power now (and also a coalition partner in power for the residual state of AP) have shown any inclination towards the needs of the new state.  While Modi was the chief guest for foundation laying for the new state capital in Amaravati, he came to make a speech and his gift to the new state was dirt and water.  Although presumably holy, the water and dirt did not add anything to reassure the people of new state of any type of plan or any kind of commitment from the PMO.  The special status and infrastructure development ideas are just that, ideas and rhetoric of the past and before the last elections.

It was Congress that was in power at the center and also in AP, when the bifurcation became a reality.  Now the residual state of AP doesn’t have Congress in the state (decimated in the last election) and BJP in control in the center, with local TDP as a partner in government of AP, noting is being done to fulfill the plans that were outlined in bifurcation plans for the state.  Although everyone in power and now not in power supported the bifurcation, no one is even remotely able to remember what they committed to the people prior to June of 2014.

The AP reorganization act came into effect and subsequent bifurcation happened on June 2, 2014.

To start with Hyderabad is declared as the joint capital of two new states for 10 years.  This is the biggest farce in the separation.  Hyderabad is nowhere close to the boundaries of the two new states.  It is in the heart of the Telangana state, thereby being a common capital is nothing but disadvantageous for people of AP and also to the government of Telangana.  There is no way the new state of AP can claim any interest in the city, its infrastructure, tax revenues or anything, but only as guests who are unwelcome.  The government of both the states and their every representative is hostile to each other, and not a single effort or word of cooperation is extended.  People who live in each territory don’t really care about the nuances of the politics and government, and they have long ago moved on with their respective addresses.

Although both the states belong to Telugu people, and have a lot of common roots, there was plenty of animosity between the politics of the states, and the voices that were leading Telangana and still to a degree continue to be hostile to AP.  At the time of bifurcation the animosity in Telangana was at its peak and there was nothing that could have removed the animosity in public display towards AP and also its people.  Although bifurcation has to a large extent removed the people issues in public discussions, the states remain at odds.  People have moved on and wherever they live they have already added the new state to their address.

When the government in the center decided to divide the state and have a common capital for 10 years, that too located in the middle of Telangana state, and force the new government of AP to conduct its business from there, and also have a common governor who lived in Hyderabad, was probably the stupidest idea that congress can think of since independence.  There is no wonder the 2014 election dealt such a result for the INC, that the party may never be able to recover from the spectacle of defeat it suffered.

The center before the bifurcation has been completely aware of the political and ideological issues that existed and the difficulties that would arise from the split, that too without proper planning and allocation of required resources to both the states.  If there was a plan that supported the AP reorganization act, it is either non-existent or really never funded.  People of both the states expected the policy makers would take the decades old issue to a planned conclusion, and also put in place a long term plan to resolve issues and planned development.  Nothing has been implemented almost going into 2 years of the bifurcation.  People expected this of congress as the INC policies of divide and rule have always been an extension of the British.  You could expect no better in the division of AP, and also the subsequent results of the election that followed.  People simply voted INC out, after that and while we now have new government's at both center and state have been in power, the state still has no resources allocated as planned and nothing of significance left, except for a load of promises that have not come to fruition.  In dividing the state Congress got nothing; politically or in goodwill.

This is truly dramatic in the short history of India since its independence in 1947.  AP even after bifurcation is still a major state, divided and without a capital city (although announced), without a development plan, and without a special status to deal with the planning and development for the foreseeable future.

The political climate in the state is disruptive and mainly based on caste equations.  The opposition is unprepared and incapable of debate and dialogue, and most times the party in power simply counter attacks anything and anyone who points to mismanagement.  In so far as meeting election promises, just about every one of them is just that, promises.  There is no correlation between plans and reality.

The center really shows little sign of encouragement in building the infrastructure in the new state.  The strange disconnect is that the BJP and TDP are both aligned with each other, but there is absolutely no common agenda.  There is also a gap in managing whatever resources that the center is sending AP and how the resources are being utilized, which further distances the budgets verses expenditures.  It’s really complicated to fathom what will happen to the state and its plans.  For now the opposition in the state is incapable and inexperienced to force the government to act on its manifesto, and the state government to get the center to help with its needs.  A whole lot of nothing in meeting the needs of the state in almost 2 years, and only the man upstairs can intervene and help the common folks.

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