This is an article from Nitish Sengupta in Asian Age. Dr Nitish Sengupta, an academic and an author, is a former Member of Parliament and a former secretary to the government of India. Courtesy: Asian Age
No word of thanks is enough to express our gratitude to those voters of the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the Telangana districts of Andhra Pradesh who in the recent byelections decisively rejected the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the separatism that it stands for. It was almost a referendum, and people voted overwhelmingly to reject the separatist candidates.
Andhra Pradesh is a state which has made impressive progress since the 1956 reorganisation of states, which created a bigger state of Andhra Pradesh by merging the original Andhra (the Telugu-speaking districts of the undivided Madras Presidency) and the eight Telugu-speaking districts of the former Nizam’s dominions of Hyderabad. It may be recalled that the reorganisation of states in 1956 had abolished the Nizam’s Hyderabad by merging its Marathi-speaking districts with Maharashtra, Kannada-speaking districts with Karnataka and Telugu-speaking districts with Andhra Pradesh.
While both the Marathi-speaking districts and Kannada-speaking districts accepted the new order gracefully, some sections in the eight Telugu-speaking districts, earlier called the Telangana area, have been intermittently demanding a separate state of Telangana by dividing Andhra Pradesh. This demand somehow received support from some national parties in the last General elections, and this resulted in the strengthening of the agitation for separate Telangana. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi joined the UPA government at the Centre and formed part of the government. The failure of the UPA government to concede their demand for a separate state led to their protest resignation last year, and thus necessitated these byelections, when they appealed to the people on the issue of a separate state of Telangana. The result has been a decisive "no" from the people. Clearly, the majority of the people of these eight Telangana districts see much merit in remaining part of Andhra Pradesh and do not fancy the idea of a separate Telangana state.
On no economic ground can Telangana be justified. The city of Hyderabad has benefited enormously from being the capital of an enlarged Andhra Pradesh. The wealthier sections from coastal Andhra Pradesh have invested substantially in Hyderabad city, resulting in a prosperity which everyone can see. It is only a tiny minority which does not appreciate that the stopping of the steady flow of resources from coastal Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad and the other districts in the Telangana area, which do not have much physical resources, will make Hyderabad suffer immensely. In the last few years it has become one of the new metropolitan cities of the country. It has one of the best international airports in India, and is also a major hub of railway traffic in the South. Interestingly, it is the only city outside the four metros where the United States is opening a consulate, thereby indicating how important it is in US perception. Earlier Iran had also opened a consulate there.
Hyderabad has become the focal point of high-tech industries and a number of other industries like drugs and pharmaceuticals. All this might come to a halt if a separate Telangana state is created. It will benefit only a small class of Telangana politicians who are hoping to gain ministerships in the new state. But for ordinary people, whether in coastal Andhra or in the Telangana areas, the creation of a separate Telangana can only be a retrograde development.
The time has, therefore, come when the Centre should formally turn down the demand for a separate Telangana state. The people of Telangana have given enough grounds by their recent voting behaviour. This amply indicates that while some of them might still outwardly make noises for Telangana for some time to come; in their heart of hearts they know that it is neither possible nor desirable. There is a saying in Canada that a separate country of French-speaking Canada is neither possible nor desirable, but French-Canadians would like to keep this matter alive in order to gain maximum political advantage. Hopefully, the situation vis-à-vis Telangana can be compared to this.
Except for Haryana, the creation of smaller states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand has not been an unmixed blessing. With a much smaller number of MLAs to manage, these states have become easy grounds for horse-trading and manipulation, resulting in prolonged political uncertainty. Often political changes can be brought about by managing a handful of MLAs with money power and muscle power. This also affects economic growth. If a separate Telangana comes up, there is every likelihood of such a scenario being repeated. All right-thinking people in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere should, therefore, resist this. Just because a small but vocal minority shout for smaller states like Telangana, Gorkhaland or Vidarbha, there is no reason to support such demands, ignoring the long-term political and economic interests of the nation. They should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Nor is there any case for constituting a second States Reorganisation Commission. (emphases ours)