Cynical politics

The new state of Telangana will be a reality now with the passage of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill by both houses of parliament. But the idea of the new state had no easy passage both inside and outside parliament and it lacks legitimacy in terms of all norms of democratic decision-making. It was born in blackout in the Lok Sabha, after suspending its strongest opponents and shutting out protests from public view. The bill also saw very unruly protests in the Rajya Sabha. This entire parliament session was badly disrupted and it saw some of the most disgraceful scenes in parliament’s history. The state assembly had rejected the proposal and yet the Central government obstinately went ahead with it for the most cynical reasons.

The entire Seemandhra region has shut down in protest. It has seen a series of bandhs, strikes and other protests in the last few months, which have resulted in disruption of normal life, much damage to property and even loss of lives. The Congress party has been almost wiped out in Seemandhra. Its chief minister has resigned and many of its MPs and MLAs have left the party. There was no democratic and sensible reason to bulldoze all this opposition and forcibly divide a state which was linguistically homogeneous and economically integrated. The division will hurt both states in the years to come. The package of sops announced by the prime minister, will not heal the wounds or undo the damage. There are continuing doubts about the legality of some provisions of the bill. The Congress may only be looking at the number of Lok Sabha seats in the Telangana region. The country and the states will have to pay a heavy price for this narrow and uncaring politics.

Ever since the states were linguistically re-organised, no state has been formed without the consent of the regions involved. Telangana will set a bad precedent and future governments will find it difficult to resist similar demands. It is a serious setback to the federal idea of India. All through the recent years the Congress leadership showed poor leadership and judgment on the Telangana issue, failed to assess all options and create a consensus. Democracy is not just a game of numbers in the legislature. It is not just about what is legally correct and possible but about what is politically and morally good. The main opposition party, the BJP, which supported the Telangana bill, also failed to realise this.

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