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TELANGANA at last…BUT

A 60-year struggle seems to have come to fruition. But a Pandora’s box has been opened.

The sanctioning of Telangana as a separate state has triggered demand from a variety of regions for separate statehood and as Union Territories (UT). The most ludicrous of these is the demand of Karaikal, presently part of Puducherry, for the status of a separate UT. Remember, Puducherry UT in itself is a tiny beauty with a population of 946,600!  And Karaikal with a geographical area of 157 sq.km and a population of 200,222 is  smaller than even a small district in Tamil Nadu. Imagine the burden of administering this territory separately!

The Puducherry UT is an  assemblage of former French settlements with four territories quite apart and distinct from each other. Puducherry and Karaikal are both adjacent to Tamil Nadu and have Tamil speaking population. Yanam in Andhra Pradesh speaks Telugu and Mahe in Kerala speaks Malayalam. As if these three languages won’t do, we also have English, Hindi and French as administrative languages. That means, apart from the distances involved in administering the four regions, one also has to have the GOs published in six languages. Economic sense would have demanded allotting these distinct regions to their respective states speaking the same language ie Puducherry and Karaikal merged with Tamil Nadu, Yanam with Andhra Pradesh and Mahe with Kerala. But that has not been so.

The demand for the formation of states on the basis of languages was triggered by the death at the end of an indefinite fast undertook by Potti Sriramulu in Chennai; he demanded the formation of Andhra Pradesh as a separate state. At that point of time, in the early 1950s, most areas of Andhra Pradesh were part of the Madras State.

 Over time there emerged the demand for smaller states speaking the same language. For instance, Jharkhand, carved out of Bihar, Chhattisgarh separated from Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand from UP all speak the same language. Today, this demand has expanded on considerations of politics. Each state will have its own set of ministers, independent administration, judiciary, etc., and that would create so much more opportunities for the local population to enjoy power and pelf.

 As Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati passed a resolution in the UP Legislative Assembly, suggesting splitting UP into four smaller states. There has been a long pending demand for the formation of Vidharba state in Maharashtra and of  Bodoland and  Gorkhaland. Damn it, the list is endless. You should not be surprised if the southern Tamil Nadu demands a separate state. PMK leader Dr. M Ramadoss having burnt bridges with both the AIADMK and DMK, may queer the pitch for a Vanniar Nadu carefully mapping the few areas of North Tamil Nadu where he has sway.

 Of course, the forthcoming elections triggered the decision on Telangana.  It is not going to be easy to resolve the status of Hyderabad. Both players would want it wholly to themselves.  Mark it, a state capital accounts for  bulk of a state’s  economic activity.  Mumbai in Maharashtra or Chennai in Tamil Nadu are examples. So, it is not going to be easy to gain acceptance over Hyderabad from all sections of Telugus.

The Congress may not be a gainer. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema,  will not reconcile to this split.  The Congress is bound to lose these regions. Already the party has no base in Tamil Nadu.  In Kerala, there has been an inexorable anti-incumbency factor. So, for the Congress, the south, which used to give comfort even at the peak of the Janata wave in 1977 is going to witness a poor following in the southern region.

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