The much-awaited Srikrishna report has strongly plumped for united Andhra Pradesh, citing the importance of Hyderabad for all the regions of state and the possibility of violence as key hurdles in the way of a bifurcation of the state. But the rejection of the demand for the state’s division has come with a strong acknowledgement of statehood sentiment in Telangana, with the committee saying that status quo can’t hold indefinitely in light of the popular wish in this volatile region. After throwing up six balls in the air, which have all been described as “options’’, some practical and some impractical, the committee has said the “best option’’ was a united state. In that respect, it has endorsed the Union government’s U-turn after its decision in favour of a separate Telangana state on December 9, 2009. The report has said Andhra Pradesh can also be divided into Telangana and Seemandhara (coastal Andhra), with Hyderabad as the former’s capital, but only if this was unavoidable and can be clinched peacefully. “The continuing demand for separate Telangana has some merit and is not entirely unjustified,” the five-member committee led by retired SC judge B N Srikrishna has said. Notwithstanding the attempt to balance things against the backdrop of violence in the region and by Maoists, the committee has unambiguously argued that the “best way forward” was a united AP with a statutory and empowered Telangana Regional Council to take care of the interests of the Telangana region. It suggests that the creation of the Regional Council will mean that there is no status quo for Telangana even if the boundaries of AP are not disturbed. The Regional Council which is proposed to have “adequate funds, functions and functionaries” is conceived as a consultative/advisory body to the state assembly on policy issues concerning the Telangana region. The panel concedes that the united state model may trigger a backlash in Telangana in the short-term, along with pressure on legislators to resign, but will meet wider acceptance in not just Coastal and Rayalaseema regions but also in Hyderabad. Implicit in this is the suggestion that the state should be ready for strong measures to tackle the initial reaction till the message of the regional council percolates down to the people. The committee considered other options: bifurcation of the state into Seemandhara and Telangana with Hyderabad as UT and the states developing their own capitals being one of them. The others are, bifurcation of the state into Rayala-Telangana (to be formed by merging Telangana and Rayalseema regions) and coastal Andhra states with Hyderabad being part of Rayala-Telangana; bifurcation of AP into Seemandhara and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a UT; and maintaining status quo. However, all of these options have been flagged down on grounds of impracticality and the resistance they might generate. The report has been rejected by Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the key force behind a separate Telangana state, TDP, PRP, CPI and is unlikely to ease Congress’s political troubles in AP as it is cleaved between pro-separate Telangana MLAs and anti-Telangana MLAs. Andhra is crucial for the Congress because it delivered back-to-back wins for the party in Lok Sabha polls. The Centre will call another meeting by January-end for discussions.
SRIKRISHNA’S SIX COURSE
1 Best Option: Keep Andhra united by simultaneously providing constitutional/statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana by creating a Telangana Regional Council
2 Second Best: Bifurcate Andhra into Telangana and Seemaandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as capital of Telangana and new capital for Seemandhra
3 Impractical: Bifurcate Andhra into Seemandhra and Telangana and make Hyderabad a UT
4 Unacceptable: Bifurcate Andhra into Rayala-Telangana and coastal Andhra regions with Hyderabad as integral part of Rayala-Telangana
5 No Consensus: Bifurcate Andhra into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as UT which will have geographical contiguity via Nalgonda in south-east to Guntur in coastal Andhra and be linked via Mahabubnagar to Kurnool in Rayalaseema
6 No One’s Option: Maintaining status quo