Sonia’s Decision On Telangana Is Against The Stand Of Indira Gandhi For A United Andhra

By Sai Prasan

The Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi's decision to divide Andhra Pradesh and form a separate Telangana state is against the firm stand of her mother-in-law and former prime minister, India Gandhi.

Sonia Gandhi along with her son and vice-president of Congress Rahul Gandhi as well as her men should know about the stand of Indira Gandi on Andhra Pradesh, the first linguistic state of India.

The decision of Congress Party in the last week of July this year to divide Andhra Pradesh and form a separate Telangana has led to a public uproar in the non-Telangana region. Following that, the Antony Committee was formed to look into the grievances of both the sides on the division of Andhra Pradesh.

However, the committee never visited the non-Telangana region. And, instead of making public the status of Antony committee, the Union Cabinet has passed a note last week on the division of Andhra Pradesh.

It is interesting to observe that the Congress Party general secretary Digvijay Singh was prompt enough to release the two letters of Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress Party expressing their support for a separate Telangana. He said that both the parties are opposing the division of Andhra Pradesh now.

But, they had extended their support to the UPA government on the formation of Telangana in October, 2008 and December, 2012. In fact, Digvijay Singh should shun his aristocratic style of functioning, Instead, he should first convey to the people of the country on the status of Antony Committee. He should make it clear whether it has taken the views of both the sides – Telangana and non-Telangana region - on the division of Andhra Pradesh; has the committee submitted its report or not. And, if the committee has submitted the report then what it recommended.

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and their men including Digvijay Singh should understand the culture, language and pre and post-Independent history of Andhra Pradesh. They should know about the stand of India Gandhi on Telangana. Addressing the Parliament on December 21, 1972, Indira Gandhi said, “I stand very family for an integrated state, thinking that just because you are separated, you can get rid of these people or we have got rid this problem is a very facile way of thinking. Our experience has not shown that this comes true”

She further said, “There is no state in India which does not have backward areas. Relatively backward and advanced areas exist not only in all states but in different regions of the same state. In Andhra region many members have drawn attention to areas such as Rayalseema and Srikakulam. The Telengana region may be a backward region but it does have better-off areas”.

Indira Gandhi said that only backwardness cannot be the reason for the formation of small state. She has rightly made a statement more than 40 years back,“Merely because an area is comparatively backward is not reason enough for taking drastic or irreversible decisions. Where will this process end? … But where does any one draw the line? Will each district want to be separate? … Do you go back to the old, very small states, princely states; do you go back to that? … You cannot just say that because of backwardness there should be division.”

The recent report of Raghuram Committee Panel has proved Indira Gandhi's statement. The list of 28 Indian states on the backwardness empirically demonstrated that the theory of smaller states are developed and the bigger states are backward is wrong. The smaller states like Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh still fall in the list of least developed category inspite of ten years of their formation while the bigger states Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are relatively better developed. .

All should know that the different regions of Andhra Pradesh have been integrated economically and socially since the formation of the state in 1953. Its integration has become stronger in the post-globalised economy. Both the Telangana and non-Telangana region are inter-dependent on many fronts. Indira Gandhi had rightly said,

“In fact, as I said on an earlier occasion, merely talking of separation is not an end of the problem. It is the beginning of another very big problem, not for other states but also for that area; that state itself”.

Whatever Indira Gandhi said is proving right. The decision of power sector employees of the non-Telangana region to go on an indefinite strike has crippled the electricity supply not only in the Seema Andhra and Rayalseema region, but it has also hit the electricity supply to Telangan region and state capital Hyderabad. The state chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has been telling right from the beginning that the farmers of Telangana will face a major problem of power deficit if the separate state is formed. Even the Justice Srikrishna Committee report on the situation of Andhra Pradesh has mentioned the area wise consumption of electricity in the agriculture sector of Andhra Pradesh, according to which it is highest in Telangana compared to Seema Andhra, North Andhra and Rayalseema. Not only, Telangana, but even the neibouring states including Odisha and Southern grid are also effected with the deficit of more than 4,000 MW which was caused due to employees strike.

The current agitation in Seema Andhra also shows the importance of the region in supplying essential commodities to Telangana, Hyderabad, neighboring states Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and other parts of country. The disruption in the supply of essential commodities including eggs, onion, milk and rice has led to the abnormal price rise which is effecting one and all.

Sonia Gandhi with her Italian roots should know the history of Indian independence movement and understand the spirit of Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi had said, “There are some things which are part of our national life. It is true that the question of linguistic states was very much a part of the national movement. There was no getting away from it. The units of every party which was in existence at a time, were formed on the basis of language in spite of the British provinces having different areas. There is an overall rationality in the formation of our various states and we should be very careful not to break this foundation of rationality in momentary passions. As I said at the beginning we should consider the feelings of people but it would be very wrong for the government to be swept away by feelings.”

All the Congress leaders and UPA government, vehemently pushing for the division of Andhra Pradesh to reap political dividends, should review and reconsider their decision. They should read the cultural and political history of Andhra Pradesh along with the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee report in the right perspective. The formation of Telangana will have a far reaching impact in India. Hence, a nation-wide debate is the need of the hour to resolve the problem of Telangana.

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