"Survey is an outrageous, intrusive attempt"

The first Chief Minister of the new Telangana State K Chandrashekhar Rao came into office with a lot of fanfare.

 During his decade long fight for the division of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state, he made many populist promises to the people of Telangana and one of them was to make a Dalit the first CM of the new state. Does it mean that there is not a single Dalit in the entire state who is capable of becoming a CM?

KCR, during the days of agitation for the new state, was known for his divisive statements and vitriol. People remember him as a seasoned politician and an able administrator when he was a minister in the Telugu Desam Party government in the united Andhra Pradesh. After coming to power, KCR continues to don his agitator avatar and not that of a seasoned politician.

After the Holocaust and millions of deaths, many warring countries found reconciliation as the best way to move forward for the sake of economic recovery. Unfortunately, post the state division, the importance of reconciliation seem to have been lost on KCR. Decisions made by him during the first two months in office instilled fear among the migrated people of residual Andhra Pradesh living in Telangana State. Lands in the Ayyappa Society belonged to a trust, whose members sold the land off to private parties allegedly in violation of law. Many of these building have received official water and power connections and in many cases Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) approvals.

One of the first few decisions taken by KCR as he came into office was to demolish the illegal constructions in the Ayyappa Society.  When the erstwhile Kiran Kumar Reddy government tried to demolish buildings in this area, KCR’s daughter Kavitha vociferously protested against the demolitions and was even arrested by the police. Residents of this area are predominantly from the residual Andhra Pradesh state. This led many to question the motives of the demolition exercise. If KCR was really serious about illegal constructions, his first target should be the illegally constructed temples and mosques at many busy cross roads that are causing traffic congestion. Also, why has any action not been taken against the government employees who gave water and power connection to these buildings?

Fee reimbursement is another controversy that could potentially alienate many people. Even in the most sought after emigration destination United States, one can become a citizen in about a decade’s time and become a permanent resident in about five years. Whereas in Telangana, KCR considers only those children whose lineage dates back to 1956, the year when the Andhra Pradesh state came into existence, as being qualified for college fee reimbursement. Thankfully, there is some relief from the Supreme Court. However, there is no finality to this contentious issue as of now.There are several other decisions including setting up of “War Room” purportedly to weed out non-Telangana employees producing fake certificates, en-masse transfer of employees belonging to one region have created anxiety among certain sections of the population.

The latest “Intensive Household Survey 2014” being conducted by the Telangana government is the most atrocious, outrageous, and intrusive attempt by KCR to deny all the residents of the Telangana state their right to privacy. Some of the questions in the survey are unacceptable and in many relatively free societies would be considered sacrilegious. The survey asks each person living in the state their caste, religion, gas connection company and number, electricity meter number, mobile phone number, post office account number, bank name and branch, diseases that the person is suffering from, vehicles owned and their registration number, details of land owned and cattle.  The questionnaire would probably not fall very far behind Hitler’s attempts to register Jews, in his quest for a thoroughbred Aryan race.Most progressive states around the world today welcome people and businesses to come to their states. States give incentives to people to relocate. Both the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh face many challenges. 

Today, Andhra Pradesh state is emerging as an attractive investment destination due to tax incentives and reliable supply of electricity. The need of the day is to give tax incentives to businessmen who are being wooed by AP. 

In addition, several thousand government employees will eventually move to the new AP capital. All these will be a drag on Telangana economy. KCR should not give more reasons for people to leave the state. The CM would serve his state’s interests by taking the path of reconciliation. He should focus on development, peace and harmony. The current retrograde approach to administration will not help achieve a peaceful and prosperous Telangana state. There is a lesson or two that can be learnt from the warring allies and axis and how they reconciled after the Second World War ended and contrast it with the state of Pakistan which continues to be a failed nation.
(The writer is president, Visalandhra Mahasabha, an organisation set up to fight for unified Andhra Pradesh)

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