Costly blunder

Costly blunder

If there was one political decision which cost the Congress party dearly in the Lok Sabha elections it was the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh into two states.

 The strength of the Congress contingent of MPs from Andhra Pradesh was the backbone of the UPA II government. But the Congress has won just two seats in Telangana and none in Seemandhra against the party’s high tally of 34 out of 42 in the combined state in the 2009 elections. The considerations that persuaded the party to go in for a division of the state turned out to be great follies. The party also had ample time to reassess its decision after it made the initial announcement of its intent in 2009. There were ample indications during the period that the decision would hurt the party. It was also against the interests of the people of both the regions of the state. But it is surprising that a party with such a long political and government experience as the Congress chose to ignore these signals.

The alienation of Jaganmohan Reddy from the Congress after the death of his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy, his rising popularity and the many setbacks the Congress received in by-elections led the party to write off the Seemandhra region in its electoral calculations. But ultimately it was a third party, the Telugu Desam, in alliance with the BJP, which benefitted and won the state Assembly and most of the Lok Sabha seats in the region. The Congress got wiped out there. It miscalculated that it would gain the 17 seats in Telangana, but again reckoned without the opportunism of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti which decided to ditch it and go it alone in the elections, winning the Assembly and most Lok Sabha seats. The Congress gamble failed and it lost in both states, falling between two stools, as it were.

Much of the poor record of performance of the UPA government, which caused its rout at the national level, was the result of its inability to take decisions. But in the case of Andhra Pradesh it was a wrong decision and its refusal to review and rectify it in good time that became its undoing. In the process it has also left the difficult consequences of its decision to be handled by others in future. Unfortunately, the people of both parts of the state, which will soon be separate states, will also have to pay the price.

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