Righteous cause: Greater Rayalaseema

Righteous cause: Greater Rayalaseema


Rayalaseema, comprising of four southernmost districts in Andhra Pradesh - Kadapa, Kurnool, Chittoor and Anantapur - is the most backward of the three distinctive regions in Andhra Pradesh in all economic parameters.  Although five chief ministers to rule Andhra Pradesh hailed from Rayalaseema, only the last two of them - Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Y S Rajashekhara Reddy - gave attention to the development of the region, with the latter focusing on providing water from Krishna through his Jalayagnam programme.

Compared to Telangana and Andhra, Rayalaseema is worse off in industry, with the economy basically agrarian. The flight of capital from Rayalaseema to Karnataka, with the Reddy community investing in real estate and industry in Karnataka has accentuated its plight. At least half of Rayalaseema, Anantapur and Kurnool districts are culturally closer to Karnataka, sharing a common history with Karnataka since the days of the Vijayanagara kings whose empire encompassed the two States.
With the Centre setting in motion the process of forming Telangana, politicians from the region are worried that they would be left to cope with Andhra which they claim has been exploiting both Rayalaseema and Telangana. Two cataclysmic events - the untimely demise of the all-powerful YSR who protected Rayalaseema’s interests, and the emergence of Telangana as a near-reality have shaken them.

“Our first preference is that the State remains unified. But if it is to be divided into two, then we do not want to stay with Andhra. We want a trifurcation and a separate state - Greater Rayalaseema,” says Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, member of Lok Sabha from Kurnool.

Son of former CM of Andhra Pradesh, Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy, Surya Prakash Reddy echoes the worry of the people of his region - that the economically powerful Andhra region would dominate and deny Rayalaseema its due. The opposition of Andhra to YSR’s attempts to convey Krishna waters to Rayalaseema rankles him.
“When and if Telangana gets out, we want our own State, comprising Nellore and Prakasam along with four Rayalaseema districts,” Surya Prakash Reddy says.
But would Rayalaseema be viable as a State? “Why not? Is Telangana viable? We have natural resources in the form of minerals, our people are the hardest working in Andhra Pradesh and are extremely enterprising. In no time, we can overtake our two cousins,” Reddy asserts.

General Secretary of Praja Rajyam Party, Kadapala Shrikanth Reddy, who hails from Anantapur district echoes Surya Prakash Reddy’s views, although remaining hopeful of Andhra Pradesh staying united. “We want a united Andhra Pradesh because the consequences of bifurcation are not likely to be desirable. But if it does happen, the chain of events may strengthen the demand for a Rayalaseema State,” he says.
Whatever the denouement, the dam of political aspirations and anxieties in Andhra Pradesh has burst and the flood of emotions is likely to create new boundaries not thinkable for over half century of the State’s existence.

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