Arrest AP slide

The ruling Congress at the Centre and the Rosaiah government must get their immediate priorities right in Andhra Pradesh. They must quickly restore a semblance of political order that is a prerequisite to contain the violent protests over the controversial Telangana statehood issue. No purpose would be served at this juncture by merely blaming the Opposition for the present turmoil. The political blame-game can be reserved for another time. If anything is horribly wrong on the political front, it is the problem within the state Congress. The party high command hadn’t even brought its state leaders, legislators and supporters onboard before Union Home Minister P Chidambaram made two diametrically opposite statements on the statehood issue. The flip-flop, in a matter of 15 days, provoked both the proponents and opponents of Telangana to take to violent ways. It is important to convince everyone that the Telangana statehood issue cannot be settled through violence.

Belatedly though, the high command realised the need to engage in consensus-building. Much of the chaotic political situation in the state at present could be cleared if the ruling party’s ministers, legislators and parliamentarians learn to speak in one voice. Therefore, first and foremost, the high command must seek a consensus within the party’s state unit. It is guilty of avoiding this exercise even though it had put the Telangana statehood issue on its agenda almost 10 years ago. Clarity within the ruling party will help Opposition parties too to firm up their views and this would help pave the way for seeking a larger political consensus on separate statehood. Political consensus-building has to be a sincere and convincing exercise, and not be perceived as just a devious way to put the issue in cold storage, again.

In the midst of this Andhra slide, the high command is unwisely loud thinking about setting up a second states’ reorganisation commission to look into the statehood demand. In the prevailing emotive atmosphere, this could be easily construed as a tactic to buy time. Even if the idea is a serious and sincere one, it is imperative to seek wider political support for it in Andhra Pradesh. And, since such a panel would also open up the possibilities for creating more states, the Congress at the Centre would be well served by building a national political consensus on it. The risk of opening the proverbial Pandora’s Box unthinkingly is better avoided.

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