Telengana and Beyond:
The Issue of State Reorganisation and Autonomy

The intense agitation for a separate Telengana, especially the upsurge of students, in the face of severe repression, eventually succeeded in wresting an announcement from the Central Government that steps would be taken towards formation of a separate State of Telengana. The demand for Telengana has been a long-standing one and it gained ground in recent years in the face of deepening economic backwardness and acute agrarian crisis in the region.
While the announcement ‘conceding’ a separate Telengana state has been greeted with predictable public rejoicing in the region, there has been a rash of resignations of MLAs and MPs from Andhra Pradesh, including a large number from the Congress party itself as well as from the TDP. The issue that is particularly proving contentious is the future of Hyderabad. While Telengana agitationists have staked their claim to Hyderabad as the capital of their new state, discordant notes can be heard within Hyderabad while the dominant political establishment in Andhra is particularly loath to part with Hyderabad. Speculations are on that the Centre might seek a way out of the impasse on the lines of the Chandigarh model, by keeping Hyderabad as the capital of both Andhra and Telengana and converting Hyderabad into a Union Territory.
Against this backdrop, Congress leaders as well as TDP leaders in Andhra are now launching agitations to fan up frenzy in the coastal and Rayalseema regions of the State against bifurcation. In response, the Centre has begun to indicate that it will back-pedal on the issue of Telengana Statehood, with senior leader of the UPA Government Pranab Mukherjee stating that the resolution in favour of Telengana could only be passed by consensus in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly itself. While the Congress at the Centre has blamed the lack of consensus on the TDP, it is unable to answer for the lack of consensus within the Congress party itself.
It appears that as in the past, the Congress is once again playing politics with the issue of Telengana Statehood. If such a violent opposition to Telengana has existed among Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh, one wonders why the Congress included Telengana in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government formed in 2004, and in the party manifesto for the last Lok Sabha elections? Can the Congress explain why, in all the years since then, it has failed to create a consensus within its own party on this issue?
The Congress at the Centre and the State must not play politics with the Telengana issue any longer; and attempts to pit the people of Andhra Pradesh against those of Telengana by whipping up an agitation against the formation of the latter must be stopped forthwith. CPI(ML), while supporting the demand for speedy constitution of Telengana, appeals to the people of Andhra Pradesh to maintain unity, respect aspirations for separate statehood, and foil any attempts to ignite chauvinistic politics that can only be destructive for the struggling unity of the people on the burning and unresolved issues of their survival and dignity.
In the wake of the Telengana agitation, demands for separate statehood have come to the fore once again in many parts of the country. The UPA Government must immediately constitute a second State Reorganisation Commission to favourably and holistically address pending separate statehood demands.
There is also an urgent need to address the struggle for autonomous statehood for Karbi Anglong and NC Hills. The people of these two hill districts of Assam, have been waging a peaceful struggle for the past two decades demanding implementation of Article 244A which provides for an Autonomous State comprising the two hill districts within the state of Assam. It is ironical that while the Centre has had no hesitation to amend the Constitution time and again to create newer states under Article 3, the most logical demand of the hill people of Assam which calls for no more than honouring an existing Article of the Constitution has gone unheeded.
The Congress Government at the Centre must not only honour its commitment to the formation of Telengana, it must also urgently address the aspirations for autonomous statehood in Karbi Anglong and NC Hills as well as several pending demands for separate statehood in other parts of the country.