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But if UPA has a reason for a Telangana state that goes beyond short-term electoral math, it's kept it a secret

A decision on statehood for Telangana has been imminent since the UPA's midnight announcement of December 2009. What is bewildering is that the crisis mode that the Congress swung into then, having taken fright at TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao's fast, still appears to continue to grip the party and its governments at the Centre and in Andhra Pradesh. The short-term calculations that informed trouble-shooting efforts then appear to be driving discussions now. This undermines the long-held and layered agitation for Telangana's aspirations, and threatens to leave the Centre witless against a fresh storm of demands for regional autonomy (some credible, many half-baked). This is not so much a cave-in to the arc of an agitation, as those who shaped Telangana's political identity would have desired. Given the drumbeat of an electoral calendar that the Congress looks to be heeding, it appears more like a desperate attempt to hold its own in the state by the limited strategy of distracting from its political failures.

Put simply, the distance the Congress is papering over is not from the simmering demands for Telangana since the 1960s. It is from Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's untimely death in 2009 and the party's subsequent inability to hold its own politically. Andhra Pradesh, ever since its formation, has been a unique administrative unit. Its birth nudged the country to work out a template for reorganisation on a linguistic basis. More importantly, it demanded an overarchingly cohesive politics from the state government to carry the project on. It is to the Congress's discredit that even after that possibly understandable lurch in December 2009, it did nothing to rework the Telangana demand into a coherent political dialogue in the state. There is a case to be made for smaller states, with the promise of enhanced political representation. There is, equally, a record of political instability that has wracked some smaller states. If an assessment on these lines informed the Centre's thinking on the bifurcation of Andhra, it was kept a well-guarded secret. Besides, the anxiety in different parts of the state and within the city itself about Hyderabad's status was never fully addressed, even after the Srikrishna committee gave all stakeholders a document on which to base their discussions on various options. There has been, for instance, little focus on developing other urban magnets, lest it be seen to undermine this or that party's claim to Hyderabad.

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