Well, the constituents of UPA including the Congress Party headed by Sonia Gandhi have decided in favour of creating Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh. No news, really – given the political expediency that they were driven by. Politics is filth and politically expedient decisions can’t be blamed for carrying their genetic traits with them.
That the decision to cede to the demand of separatists in Andhra Pradesh has thrown open a Pandora’s Box is beyond reasonable doubt; existing demands for separate states elsewhere in the country have regained momentum and it is a matter of time before the country is thrown into turmoil because of this single decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
At a time when the country is facing serious threats on the borders, this decision has opened yet another front the country cannot ignore and thus spread its resources and attention thin. The timing of the decision, if not the decision itself, is a reflection on the lack of administrative and strategic acumen in our politicians. Our political parties in their shameless bid to protect their interests have placed in peril the interests of the country and its people.
I am not going to talk about the validity of the demand for Telangana. Just like several other such demands in the country, it may or may not be a reasonable demand. But one would do well to keep in mind that regional imbalances are not necessarily because of injustice perpetrated by the more prosperous regions. In any case, the decision and the way it has been made remain questionable on several counts; but I won’t go into the detals of that now because that’s not the thrust of this write-up.
This decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, the attitudes displayed, and the various statements being made by politicians raise many interesting issues. I shall talk briefly (and you would be in for a nasty surprise if you believed that I would be brief indeed!) about them.
The first question is the abject surrender of the politicians – I deliberately refrain from calling them political leaders – of various parties to the people ruling the roost higher up in the party echelons. This is a malaise typical to Congress; ever since the systematic destruction of grass-root level leadership in the post-Nehru Congress, there has been a leadership vacuum at all lower levels; the rootless politicians have all been dependent on the Nehru-Gandhi family for survival because they have no following at the grass-root level. Nobody dared question Indira; but then Indira, despite everything, had a formidable stature as a leader of the masses, as a politician and as an administrator. In the post-Indira era of Congress, the stature of the power-centers replacing Indira became questionable but the leaders remained as devoid of any roots as in the Indira era. This makes the situation extremely worrying for the country. Congress politicians will do whatever the boss – the “high command”, as they love to say – orders; they dare not speak a word to the contrary.
The second question is about the mandate of the political parties to go about bifurcating or trifurcating states or re-constituting them as they please on the pretext of popular demand. Is there a real demand by the people for such reorganisation or is the demand just the creation of politicians for their own narrow ends? In any case, can they go about it or anything else they do in the name of the people the way they do now? Do political parties have the right to cede the sovereignty of the whole or any part of the country to any other country just because they claim that the people there demand it? I think there is a limit, however difficult to identify, to what political parties and politicians can do in the name of popular demand. Identifying this limit and showing political parties their proper place is going to be the greatest challenge facing Democracy across the world.
The third relates more directly to the aspirations of the people of the country. If one watches what has been happening on the roads in the Coastal and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, one cannot but notice the absence of any political parties in the protests against bifurcation. Almost all the political parties acquiesced in the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and it is only natural that they should be aloof from the protests. Now, if political parties do not represent or reflect the will of the people in any given issue, what is the relevance of these political parties to people? Political parties, as things stand, do not seem to be answerable to anybody – including the people who elect their members to positions in legislature and, thus, government. Attempts like the one to exempt them from the ambit of the Right to Information Act smack of their refusal to be reigned in. Do democratic countries have any real democracy if the parties and their leaders do not represent the will of the people? Shouldn’t the ‘party system’ be given a thorough review?
Mr.N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, the present Chief Minster of Andra Pradesh, has been consistently opposing the idea of bifurcation. He made no bones about saying as much in public. It wold have added to his image had he chosen to resign rather than live with the decision of the ‘high command’. Yet I do not hold that against him; far bigger names have been known to cling to power as long as possible.
Surprisingly, but admirably, he is reported to have stated, about 10 days after the decision to bifurcate AP, that the issues relating to water, power, employment, status of Hyderabad, and a host of other issues needed solutions first. (That the UPA and the government speak of addressing these issues after taking the decision to bifurcate is like putting the cart before the horse.) He is reported to have said: “These issues need solutions. We cannot create bigger problems in our anxiety to create a new State.” He is reported to have said that though the Congress party had taken a stand on the issue of bifurcation, it was for the Centre to clarify crucial issues like water-sharing, sharing of power (electricity) etc that would have a bearing on the three regions: Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, and Telangana. He is further reported to have said that the Centre should seek a debate on the issue (of bifurcation) in the Assembly only after addressing these concerns.
He was, of course, careful enough to clarify that he was not opposing the decision taken by the party leadership – but that is unlikely to mollify the said party leadership. Don’t be surprised if Kiran Kumar Reddy is made to pay the price for his bold (or brazen, depending on one’s perspective) assertions.
Not surprising, though, are the reactions to Kiran Kumar Reddy’s statements. They are absolutely in keeping with the present-day culture of the Congress party.
Damodar Rajanarasimha, Dy. Chief Minister, a politician from Telangana and a pro-separatist, is reported to have retorted that a commander should not act as a conspirator. If he meant ‘conspirator’ indeed rather than ‘instigator’ (of the protests in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema), one can’t help wondering what the conspiracy is? Conspiracy against the Congress high-command, sir?
He is reported to have stated that all the Congressmen owed their present position to the party alone. (Perhaps he meant the so-called ‘high-command’ when he said ‘party’.) Note that these people owe their stature to the party rather than the other way round; but there indeed was a time when Congress acquired its stature because of its leaders; things have changed a lot ever since the pre-independence days, haven’t they?. He is said to have delivered the sobering homily that people in public life should believe in certain principles and ideology. Very timely reminder, sir, but amusing and taken with a few pinches of salt given the general quality of our politics and politicians.
Rajnarasimha’s reported statement that those who defy the party leadership cannot last long in history is noteworthy. It may, of course, be true that in the annals of the party there have been no instances of dissension being taken kindly and that dissenters have always been sidelined and consigned to the dustbins of history. But perhaps there are a few like Kiran Kumar Reddy who would prefer to go down in history as those who had spoken their mind fearlessly. I wonder why one can’t defy the leadership if the party and its leadership are at variance with the will and aspirations of the people of the country or if one thinks that the party or its leadership is palpably wrong in its stand!
In a similar vein, former A.P.Minister P. Shankar Rao who has earlier been jettisoned from the State Cabinet by Kiran Kumar Reddy, is reported to have demanded an apology from the Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy “for going against the authority” of Sonia Gandhi and questioning her decision to bifurcate the state. So Shankar Rao does admit that Sonia Gandhi is an authority, an authority whose decisions can’t be questioned; and I still believe that the decisions of no leader is beyond questioning. And it is obvious from Shankar Rao’s statement that it is Sonia Gandhi’s decision rather than the party’s decision; that the party endorses any decision of Sonia Gandhi and projects it as its own is an altogether different matter. (Technically, it is the party’s decision; practically, it is Sonia’s decision. Some democracy it is!)
The really delectable part of Rajanarasimha’s reported homily is here: “A statesman thinks about next generation and a politician thinks about next elections, but a failed politician thinks about himself”. Wonderful!
Kiran Kumar Reddy may or may not be a failed politician; after all, he has risen – perhaps aided by some stroke of good fortune – to the position of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, something a whole lot of his contemporaries in the party have not managed to accomplish. But Kiran Kumar Reddy was certainly not thinking of himself when he voiced his opinions mentioned in the beginning of this write-up.
The issue of bifurcating Andhra Pradesh has proved beyond doubt that there are no statesmen in our political parties – UPA as well as the others.(Only the Marxists seem to be opposed to bifurcating AP, or, for that matter, any other state – and though I have never been an admirer of Communists of whatever hue, I can’t help noting that they (the Marxists) are speaking sense – at least in this case.)
The general opinion is that the decision to bifurcate AP is a decision of pure political convenience and each party – including non-UPA parties like BJP and Telugu Desam – has its own political calculations in the matter; indeed there seems to be an abundance, a disturbing overabundance, of politicians and failed politicians in the country.
As a helpless citizen of this country, I can only raise my hands and pray “God save India, this India, my India, our India!”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Spectralhues is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. The information, facts or opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the views of Spectralhues and Spectralhues does not take any responsibility or liability for the same.Andhra Pradesh Congress india Kiran Kumar Reddy Rayalaseema Sonia Gandhi Telengana UPA