Telangana: Cong needs to bite the bullet


On the face of it, last week's all-party meeting on Telangana was a dull affair with each reaffirming their respective positions or maintaining their known ambivalence like in the case of the Congress and YSR Congress. The Telugu Desam Party provided the only bit of excitement, taking a firm line in favour of a separate state — a stand it had, otherwise, made known in recent months.

So, what was the exercise all about? The answer to this lies within the Congress, the way forces are arraigned on this in the party and the exciting seat projections pro-Telangana Congressmen give to their headquarters if the party were to concede statehood.

Now, that's a conclusion many senior ministers are unwilling to accept. This scepticism aside, there are questions of principle and the Congress's own precedents which are being cited back at Telangana enthusiasts within the party.

For instance, it's being reminded that the Congress signed the Punjab and Assam accords, knowing well it was in for an electoral rout in the states. At that point, the government did not choose to bifurcate states, so why now? But those with high stakes in 2014 feel this situation is far different from the time when the Congress had the luxury to such "nationalistic calls".

From a government standpoint, the security implications remain worrisome. First, it will strengthen the Maoists who have thrown their lot with the Telangana cause. Second, Hyderabad will turn tense, regardless of which way the decision goes, leading to further economic decline of the city. Third, similar demands will crop up elsewhere in the state and even outside — of particular concern to the government is the revival of the just settled Gorkhaland demand.

But for a party leadership staring at a decline in its best performing state of 2008 general elections, enhanced seat projections do make an impact. And, in due course, hard nosed electoral planners on Akbar Road have begun to say if the Congress won't do it, any other party will surely oblige. In other words, whichever way you look at it, Telangana will happen. So, why should the Congress not take the initiative and reap the benefits.

... contd.

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