Hyderabad, Aug 30 (IANS) Even a month after the Congress party decided to carve out a separate Telangana state, uncertainty continues to haunt Andhra Pradesh while two other regions of the state have plunged into chaos.
Though the Congress leadership has ruled out going back on its July 30 decision, it is fully aware that moving ahead to split Andhra Pradesh is not going to be easy either, given the resistance it is facing in the rest of the state.
The continuing protests and shutdowns in Seemandhra (the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions), the indefinite strike by over 600,000 government employees and teachers and the bitter fight over Hyderabad are giving many a headache to the party, which had hoped to end the political turmoil dogging the state since the central government's Dec 9, 2009, statement on granting statehood to Telangana.
Life in all 13 districts of Seemandhra has come to a standstill and the administration is paralysed. Educational institutions are shut while buses of the state-owned transport corporation have remained off the roads, crippling the regions' economy.
The people in Seemandhra are not ready to reconcile to the division of the state, formed in 1956 for Telugu-speaking people.
What has added to the woes of the Congress is the volte face by both the major opposition parties in the state. The YSR Congress, which is virtually non-existent in Telangana, has came out clearly against the decision. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is also slamming the Congress for its unilateral decision.
"The decision was taken after the widest consultations over the last few years and after TDP, YSR Congress, BJP and other parties supported statehood for Telangana. It is unfortunate that the TDP and the YSR Congress have gone back on their word," says Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh.
Though the Congress tried to pacify its leaders from Seemandhra by setting up a four-member committee headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, it is not likely to come up with a solution. Facing the people's ire on streets, the Seemandhra leaders are urging the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision-making body, to take back its decision or to at least make Hyderabad a union territory and protect their interests.
Telangana leaders, on the other hand, have ruled out any compromise on statehood to Telangana, comprising 10 districts and with Hyderabad as the capital. They have agreed to the CWC proposal for making Hyderabad the joint capital of the two states for 10 years.
The bitterness of division is reflected in the protests and counter-protests by Seemandhra and Telangana employees in government offices in Hyderabad. Not a single day passes without the two sides coming to blows and intervention by the police.
Hyderabad, which has emerged as a major economic hub and IT centre during last two decades, is the bone of contention. People from Seemandhra, especially those living or having stakes in Hyderabad, say they have a right over the city as they have contributed to its tremendous growth.
On the other hand, Telangana protagonists can't imagine a separate state without Hyderabad, as the city has been a part of the region historically and geographically.
Political observers warn that the tension between the two sides may increase in the coming days in view of the decision of Seemandhra employees to hold a public meeting in Hyderabad on Sept 7. Pro-Telangana groups, and even a section of Congress leaders from Telangana, have vowed to prevent the public meeting.
Worried over the intense lobbying by Seemandhra leaders once again stalling the formation of a separate state, Telangana leaders are mounting pressure on the central leadership to speed up the process by tabling a bill in parliament.
The Congress, which planned to reap political benefits in Telangana by carving out the separate state, is fast losing the ground in Seemandhra and its public representatives are under immense pressure to quit.
This week alone, the Congress party lost four of its state legislators to the YSR Congress, whose chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, is hoping to cash in on a united Andhra sentiment by his indefinite fast in Hyderarbad's Chanchalguda jail.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)