Telangana: Either way, UPA has little to gain now

As time runs out, the government's dilemma on the Telengana issue is turning from Sophie's Choice into a Hobson's choice. If earlier, like Sophie in the award-winning film, it faced the dilemma of choosing between two unbearable options, it is now actually running out of alternatives.

Earlier, the options before the UPA government were obvious, if difficult to decide in favour of statehood for Telengana and give up on the rest of Andhra Pradesh, or decide against it and earn the wrath of the people of the region seeking a separate state. The interregnum could have been used to limit the damage in either region.

However, the Centre avoided taking a clear stand when opportunity presented itself, after then home minister P Chidambaram's midnight announcement that the process for formation of a Telangana state would be initiated. It would have given definite electoral returns at least in the Telengana region. A contrary decision likewise would have hit the party in Telengana but stopped the advance of Jagan Mohan Reddy's party in the rest of Andhra.

Now as the Lok Sabha elections draw near, the UPA government's choices are increasingly getting limited. An announcement favouring statehood for Telengana may not guarantee victory in that region, as in all likelihood, it will have to fight against the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. The scope of a merger with the TRS has also receded. In any case, the TRS has indicated that a merger can happen only if the state reorganisation Bill approving creation of Telengana is passed in Parliament.

On the other hand, Jagan Mohan looks set to spell doom for the party in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.

The stakes are high in Andhra Pradesh, which comprises 42 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress had won 33 of these in the past elections.

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