Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Roundtable on Telangana Issue

The Indian Government, facing heat on the Telangana issue, has called a roundtable on 5 January, to find a solution to the vexed problem. Eight important political parties from Andhra Pradesh have been invited to participate. According to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the proposed conference is the first step toward resolving the Telangana issue.
The way the Central Government agreed in principle for establishment of a separate Telangana state to persuade Telangana Rashtriya Samiti leader K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) to give up his 11-day-long fast kicked up a political storm in Andhra Pradesh politics. It also encouraged leaders who were clamoring for separate states elsewhere in the country intensifying their demand to adopt effective measures to create separate states. They also decided to resort to hunger strikes and similar other tactics to force the central government to accede to their demands. When the demands for Harit Pradesh, Bundelkhand, and Seemanchal in Uttar Pradesh, Gorkhaland in West Bengal, and Bodoland in Assam and similar other demands raised their heads, the central government got perplexed and perturbed. These numerous demands added to its woes. All this forced the central government to adopt a clear-cut stand, and it announced that no other demands, barring Telangana, would be considered.

Major Shock for Central Government
The political storm that emerged in Andhra Pradesh on Telangana added to the problems being faced by New Delhi. Despite putting aside demands for separate states, the announcement on a separate Telangana proved a major headache for New Delhi, as differences erupted even within the Congress-led government in Andhra Pradesh. A large number of members of Legislative Assembly belonging to various political parties tendered resignation to protest against the state's bifurcation.
But the major shock that the central government got was from members of its own ruling Congress, when several of ministers in the state resigned. This led to a division in the ruling Congress, while assembly members from the Telangana region were celebrating the announcement to grant statehood to Telangana region. Other members of the assembly from the rest of Andhra Pradesh, including those belonging to the Congress, resigned in protest against the federal stand. Those Congressmen who resigned included 13 ministers in the state. They, however, withdrew their resignations after New Delhi announced the convening of a roundtable on the issue. Even Members of Parliament from Telangana appeared to be divided on statehood for Telangana.
It was due to these developments in the state that the Central Government had to explain its stand maintaining that the final decision on the issue would be made only after consensus among people and political parties. The proposed roundtable to be held on 5 January assumes significance because a roadmap and a mechanism would be prepared to solve the issue. Home Minister P. Chidambaram admitted that it is an issue indeed, and a solution to it must be found.

Positive Result Expected
It is a matter of conjecture what would be the outcome of the roundtable, and how far it succeeds in reaching a consensus. Yet, by announcing the holding of a roundtable, the Congress party has succeeded in pacifying its rebel ministers and thereby stalling the political crisis in the state. It has also succeeded in reducing its own problems. The announcement made by 13 rebel ministers in Andhra Pradesh goes to prove it. Chidambaram maintains that New Delhi is serious about getting the Telangana issue resolved, and it would consider the demand for statehood for Telangana.
The announcement of holding a roundtable has settled the dust its earlier announcement had raised. There is no doubt that the decision to agree to statehood for Telangana was made under pressure of the hunger strike by KCR. However, by announcing to hold a roundtable, it has succeeded in preventing the storm in Andhra Pradesh for the time being.

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