Andhra Pradesh is the first linguistic state proposed to be bifurcated by the federal Government of India. It was unified by the same federal government into a linguistic state in 1956. All other states had been carved out from historically unified regions that became administrative states after Independence — including Haryana from Punjab, Gujarat from Bombay State, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand from within the Hindi administrative provinces of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. If the last three-and-a-half years of trauma over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh are any indication, the process of bifurcation seems to be not only difficult but torturous too.
Though the developmental parameters show that regional disparities do exist within the state, the key reason for the demand for bifurcation was that the feudal elements in Telangana who led the agitation could not compete in political power with the capitalist ruling classes/castes of Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema. Nor did they share in the revenue of the software and business capital of Hyderabad city.
The Telangana feudals, who faced Maoist resistance in rural areas, have settled in Hyderabad where they acquired a share in the real estate business but no share in other productive industries, including software. They united across party lines to press for the bifurcation of the state.
A small section of white collar employees joined the movement hoping that in the new Telangana state there would be substantial promotions for existing employees and some new jobs for unemployed youth. They added to the unrest and demand for bifurcation, but the leadership was always in the hands of the feudal forces of the region.
Once the bifurcation was announced, capitalist political forces in the Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions erupted in protest, insisting on a unified state. Even the peasant forces of those regions, who are ambitious to get white collar jobs in public and private sectors around Hyderabad city, joined the protests and more cohesively than the Telangana peasant and artisanal forces did in the Telangana struggle.
The relations between the feudal and artisanal forces in the Telangana region are more unfriendly and have been expressed quite consistently in this region. Certainly, there was more social reform in Coastal districts than in Telangana. Even the forms of protests were marked by feudal and capitalist characteristics. If Hyderabad is seen as a source of modern capitalist entrepreneurship by coastal and Rayalseema people, the Telangana feudals viewed it as a grab-able, costly land resource. The feudal elements in Telangana have got more legitimacy than ever before.
In this situation of contending views for both bifurcation and status quo, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party saw the Telangana region as one where votes could be manipulated. Even the Telugu Desam Party contributed its share to the woes of the state. Tactically it gave a letter in support of bifurcation, but when the actual decision was taken, the capitalist class in the party was shocked and began to oppose it. Now, after the July 30 decision of the Congress Core Committee to bifurcate the state, the entire capitalist class from Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions, cutting across castes and parties, has started arm-twisting the bifurcation process.
Of all the major cities of India, Hyderabad and Bengaluru are the most comfortable. They are landlocked cities with the most expandable land around, a good climate and expanding businesses. The software and other upwardly mobile industries prefer to invest in these two cities because of the locational advantage. While the Telangana feudal forces are craving for fuller control of Hyderabad after bifurcation, the Seemandhra capitalists are dead against leaving Hyderabad because no other place in the state is so comfortable. People choose to live and invest in Hyderabad not only because it is the state capital but because of its weather, living comforts and access to national resources.
We all know very well that the Congress — not so much the UPA — decided to bifurcate the state not because of the demand for it and the agitation, but because of the challenge it faced from the family of the late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.
The Congress also wanted to checkmate the possibility of the TDP coming back to power in the absence of a leader like Rajasekhara Reddy to keep it at bay. Between December 2009, when the Congress indicated that Telangana state would be created, and July 30, 2013, when the official announcement was made, the Congress moved back and forth on the issue because of serious opposition from the Andhra capitalists.
The BJP made use of this situation and went on promising the Telangana feudals that once the party came to power it would definitely bifurcate the state, as it had nothing to lose in Seemandhra. On the chessboard of Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi, the bifurcation was seen as an added advantage for Mr Gandhi because it would undercut the BJP’s surge in the Telangana region and add to the Congress’ national tally of MPs in 2014.
The innocent, illiterate masses have suffered and are suffering a lot on both sides. The children of the poor lost many school days during the agitations. Their parents lost workdays. Public transport was closed in all regions for months and months. Higher educational institutions were closed for long periods. Neither the feudals of Telangana nor the capitalists of Andhra were worried about these losses because nobody computes the work of the poor as being part of the economy, nor their suffering as suffering.
As we know, Indian feudalism is barbaric and even its emerging capitalism is cruel and insensitive.
Being from Telangana myself, I am unable to comprehend how these feudals will improve the region after bifurcation. I also do not understand why the capitalists used the administrative apparatus of united state as their private property thereby pushing the labour force of Telangana into the lap of feudal forces, who now treat the capitalists of Hyderabad as their enemies. Any positive governance has to build an inclusive culture.
Certainly, Andhra Pradesh is not an underdeveloped state like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. There is some amount of capital growth yet the relations between capitalists and feudals have not improved. Now it is a messy region of the South. Whether there is bifurcation or not, the region’s economy and human relations will not be the same for a long time to come.
The writer is director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
The Deccan Chronical English News Paper Dated: 07/11/2013