Bizarre politics

The inept, if not cynically opportunistic, handling of the Telangana statehood issue has thoroughly exposed the Congress leadership.

What the nation is currently witnessing is a bizarre situation, which defies the very essence of the principle of collective ministerial responsibility in a Cabinet system of government. Half-a-dozen Union ministers from the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh are a party to the Manmohan Singh government’s decision to carve out the proposed state of Telangana. But they take part in street protests  and even submit their resignations from the ministry, though till today they remain part of the government. 

As if the this unusual demonstration of irresponsibility was not enough, half-a-dozen Seemandhra region MPs in the Lok Sabha did something that can never be acceptable to any political party, leave alone the Congress. They submitted to the Speaker a notice of no-confidence against their own government at the Centre. Yet, nothing happened to them; neither have they been expelled from the party nor have they left on their own. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kirankumar Reddy’s latest conduct has taken these theatrics over the issue to a new height. His dharna in the national capital against the decisions of his party and its leadership is unprecedented.

The truth is that the Congress leadership has lost control of the situation in Andhra ever since the sudden demise of its politically skilful leader Y S Rajasekhara Reddy over four years ago. Reddy kept the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, his ally and the main Telangana statehood proponent, in check. Post his death, however, each time a crisis arose over the issue the Congress came up with a knee-jerk response. Without consultations within the party and among all other stake-holders, the party leadership made one promise after another to wriggle out of crisis situations, only to actually end up making a commitment to carve out the new state.

It has found that it can neither go back on the commitment nor honour it, without yielding political space to its rivals, and without pushing the state into depths of more turmoil. As a result, the party confronts a no-win situation in the upcoming elections to the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha. What is worrisome is that the prolonged uncertainty will take a huge toll on the state as the next governments in Hyderabad and in Delhi after the April-May elections will have to grapple with the legacy of the Congress misrule.

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