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Getting to a coherent policy on Telangana – Congress in a bind




For a quick update on why the Congress is worried about the current Telangana issue, there are 2 quick points that would help readers understand why the current agitation of Telangana is so disturbing for the party and yet it is unable to do anything about it.
– Andhra Pradesh is strategically very important for the Congress. It gave the largest contingent of Congress MP’s in the last Lok Sabha elections of 2009 (the Congress won 33 seats from the state), and hence provides some amount of stability for the Congress.
– The Congress had a major leader in the form of the YSR who was the unquestioned leader of the party in the state, and led the party to wins in both the assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.
As a result, the scene in Andhra Pradesh is very important for the Congress, and something that the state should be strongly focusing on. But the reality is something very different. The twin blows of the Telangana agitation and the fight by Jaganmohan Reddy threaten the Congress position in the entire state, and the Congress seems to be totally at sea in terms of how to deal with these situations.

The Telangana agitation was something whose origin is not entirely based on policies of the Congress, but the current high level of agitation can be fully blamed on the Congress. When you make an offer that promises what people are asking for, and then reverse the policy, the blame entirely falls on you, and this is what is happening to the Congress.
Telangana is an agitation by a section of the state of Andhra Pradesh (including the prized capital city of Hyderabad) which feels that they have been discriminated against in terms of development resources, and hence want a separate state, split off from the state of Andhra Pradesh. There is a party called the TRS which is fighting for the same, and which had actually allied with the Congress in the last elections. But, then the party got disillusioned with the policy of the Congress regarding Telangana and started an agitation.
And then came the big problem. The Congress, in order to defuse a hunger strike by the TRS leader, promised the formation of the state of Telangana. And then, the Congress went back on its promise, no doubt worried about its electoral impact on the rest of the Andhra Pradesh, which did not want a split in the state (and it would also be clear that the Congress would not have got a special benefit in the Telangana region because of this support for the setting up of a separate state).
So, now the Congress is in a bind. They are facing opposition in Telangana because the Congress is the one that has to move forward in the quest for statehood, and that is not going to happen. Their own MLA’s and MP’s are under threat because they belong to a party that is seen as opposing statehood, and hence the pressure from the Telangana MP’s to be seen as doing something in this area. Of course, the Congress cannot afford to lose these MP’s because of the precarious position it has with the total number of MP’s in Parliament, and with the Presidential elections coming up, these MP’s cannot be lost.
In the rest of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress is in a bad position, with Jaganmohan Reddy continuing to threaten the Congress Government with his strong performance in local elections and ensuring that the Congress has to keep a close watch on the situation in the state.




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