Monday, September 12, 2016

State without Status

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

This past week is a very hard week to comprehend for all citizens of AP.  For more than two years after procrastination and postponement, the BJP government at the center declared they will not grant special status to AP, but will provide a package to build the infrastructure to help meet the requirements of the newly formed (now more than 2 years) state.  The center announced at midnight just on the eve of the weekend, that there is no way that it can announce the special status for AP.  Modi has been in office for 2 years and this parliament under the INC rule had declared the grant of special status to AP, and (once again while Modi is somewhere else in the world) the announcement for all to hear, nothing for AP.

In October 2015, I had written on the same issue and aptly named my weekly column, “Orphan State”.

The current AP political leadership, and its opposition parties and for a fact all people of AP; all did not believe the words “special status being considered by the center”.  It was a known fact that AP had no consideration and the so called “special status” was nothing but a whitewash.  But the state’s current CM and the minister’s at the center kept the discussion alive with the simply consideration in their vocabulary.

Now we have the word that the center will not be granting a special status, what do we do?  With every aspect of the bifurcation of the state into Telangana and AP (it is really residual AP) already implemented, there is little room for reversing the two year old decision of the INC to split the state.  And as far as the farce of the “special status” has come to an end, now the reality of having nothing has set in for the people of AP.  The politicians knew about it, but all of a sudden the have become vocal, but none too harsh on Modi in raising their minimal voice.

All of a sudden the politicians in power have to find a way to weasel out of their promise of the special status.  Those who did not support the government all of a sudden have found voice to harp about the obvious, and pin down the backtracking by TDP/BJP.  In reality outside of bickering and mud slinging there is little that the state can do to change anything.

We as Indians have notorious attitude about stalling public life (much to destroy whatever we can find), and throw the government and public services into a protest (bandh).  Since the time of Mahatma, protesting (everything) has become a way of life for Indians.  But the problem is that seldom in recent times the blockades and hunger strikes have been successful in yielding anything, except create inconvenience to the public.  The government never gets inconvenienced, but public suffers the blockades and destruction that has become a part of it.

What options do people of AP have to protest the decision not to grant the special status to their state?  Politically nothing as the current state government supports the center, and it is toothless.

As the local and central elections are almost 3 years away, and the ruling party has a majority to govern, very little political pressure is on the parties in power to change anything.  Students, workers, and personnel will simply loose their opportunities that are already limited in the Indian economy.  Voting the current government out in the next election is definitely an option, but it is three years away.  What will happen to the state until then?  Even if people vote the current parties out of power, what is the guarantee that the state will be granted a special status, and if it takes five or ten years, what is the benefit that is derived?

While the situation is a political opportunity for the opposition in the next election (and to create ruckus until then), it is the people of the state who have lost the opportunity of development in their new state.

The current government and the opposition parties can certainly follow the path of Mahatma in civil disobedience and hunger strike.  The recent efforts by Anna Hazare, with various efforts, only got him the Gandhian tag, but very little tangible results.  The major issue the people of AP have is the current leader Naidu seems incapable of taking a stance against the center.

The irony of the current state is that AP was created with the sacrifice of many, and mainly associates with Potti Sriramulu and his self sacrifice.  Since the formation of AP in 1953 until it was split in 2014, the state has had a remarkable and fractured history with its capital in Hyderabad, it people and politics.  With the current government and its toothless attitude, it is hard to imagine the new AP will see anything but hardship.

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