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Competing for good: Tale of two states
Andhra Pradesh had a ceserean birth when it split from the erstwhile Madras Presidency. So did Telangana when it broke out of Andhra Pradesh.

In the early years of independence, the formation of states was based on language. Today, Andhra and Telangana appear to be a bifurcation, with people of both states speaking Telugu.

There is a view that the break up could have been far more amicable. But political expediencies and deep-rooted angst didn’t allow it.  In one sense, it was also about political upmanship in a unique situation where national parties, unmindful of their affiliations, wanted to take credit for the bifurcation. The Congress which was in power and so could be seen as the ringmaster, received a massive drubbing in the husting. The party that has ruled the state for decades and the one which has contributed the most number of MPs to the UPA over the last ten years, was in a shambles. It did not win even a single Assembly seat in the Andhra elections that ensued soon after the bifurcation.   Clearly the people of Andhra Pradesh weren’t too pleased with the partition.

 

Rise of regional parties

 

South, in comparison with North, has been open to regional parties and there has been a balanced mix of local and national parties in fray for power. But the bifurcation of the state and the creation of Telangana and residual AP, has catapulted two regional political parties.  The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led by firebrand K Chandrashekhar Rao and the Telugu Desam Party led by the tech-savvy Chandrababu Naidu won landslide majorities in Telangana and Andhra respectively. The two now have a  clear mandate to rule with no coalition pressures to impede their governance style. There are no power struggles,  no wolves to keep out of the corridors of power through wily machinations and both CMs are strongmen  wielding extraordinary powers over the party apparatuses and the government machinery. The duo thankfully till now, have exercised it to work for their states’ development.

Competitive federalism to spur states to engage in a healthy competition on growth is now the new norm in India. For Andhra and Telangana the backstory of their respective births as new states has ensured that they are born with an inherent desire to compete. Good neighbourly relations will boost the prospects of both states and will give wings to the aspirations of Telugus on either side of the divide. The silver lining is that one may see the day when they are competing and cooperating with the same intensity. Why? They share a common capital for (Hyderabad); the two are known for their brilliant sensibilities and administrative acumen to be the best, both are considered taskmasters and their ideas are slowly beginning to bear fruit.

 

Change has hit both ways...

 

Change can either be for better or worse. Remember, historically Andhra and Telangana have been at loggerheads. Little wonder, change has hit them both ways. For one, there has been the competitive spirit, each willing to outdo the other, in the manner of sibling rivalry. For another, there has been a display of brotherhood. Like, when the Telangana chief minister was one of the guests of honour for the foundation stone laying function of Amaravati, the proposed new capital of Hyderabad. Rao stunned everyone with his offer of help and support to build the city.  And then there were the mud slinging and telephone tapping.

The case of tapping of phones of Andhra officials, including those of the chief minister as reported during the vote-for-note scam in Telangana, the open threat issued by the two sides, the police cases filed on top leaders show that things aren’t calm as yet. But it isn’t just about in-fighting between the regional biggies, it is also about how leaders with absolute power dictate the course of law and call the shots.  The phone-tapping and the vote-for-note scam showed both leaders in bad light.  The scary part is that they didn’t mind to let these serious accusations and FIRs die a natural death.

Now coming to the good part of change.  To start with, both states have been pro-people. Yes, there has been a surge in populist schemes that in the long run will bleed their respective treasuries but still good work is being done on the ground.

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