How Telangana demand led to bifurcation

A year prior to the merger, the Andhra Assembly had passed a resolution promising to safeguard the interests of the Telangana region.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Updated: March 9, 2018 8:04:38 am
Telangana state, Telangana bifurcation, Telangana state issue, Telangana bifurcation, Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act , Telangana Rashtra Samiti, TRS, india news, indian express news K Chandrashekhar Rao (File Photo)

Andhra Pradesh was formally bifurcated by an Act of Parliament on June 2, 2014. Post the split, Telangana came into existence. The event marked the end of the decades-old movement demanding a separate state.

On November 1, 1956, the Telugu-speaking areas of the erstwhile Hyderabad province were merged with the Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh. The city of Hyderabad, the capital of the Hyderabad State, was declared the capital of newly formed Andhra Pradesh. A year prior to the merger, the Andhra Assembly had passed a resolution promising to safeguard the interests of the Telangana region.

However, a violent agitation erupted in 1969 demanding a separate state of Telangana. But the movement took a new turn only in 2001 when K Chandrasekhar Rao, the current chief minister of Telangana, walked out of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to form the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) with the avowed objective of seeking the state’s division.

The Congress, which assumed power following the 2004 General Elections, entered into an alliance with the TRS the same year, promising the division of Andhra Pradesh. Rao was even appointed a minister in the United Progressive Alliance government. But he resigned and walked out of the UPA two years later, protesting the delay in the creation of the new state.

The decisive turn, however, came in 2009 when Rao sat on an indefinite hunger strike. To rein-in the situation, the Congress-led Union government, initiated high-level talks. On December 9, 2009, the then Home Minister P Chidambaram announced that an appropriate resolution for the formation of Telangana would be moved in the Andhra Pradesh state assembly. While Rao called off the strike, the Congress attempted to delay the process as its leaders from the state staunchly opposed the division.

Following Chidambaram’s announcement, the Centre held consultations with eight recognised political parties and set up a five-member committee in February 2010 headed by a former Supreme Court judge, Justice B N Srikrishna, “to hold wide-ranging consultations with all sections of the people and all political parties and groups.” The Srikrishna committee submitted its report a year later providing six options including bifurcation.

The Union government held an all-party meeting and set up a Group of Ministers headed by the then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in 2013 to look into matters related to the division of the state. The GoM held consultations with all major stakeholders for several months to determine the status of Hyderabad, sharing of water resources, and other economic matters.

On July 30, 2013, the proposal for the creation of Telangana was approved by the UPA Coordination Committee and the Congress Working Committee amid an agitation by students of Osmania University, which had become the centre of the pro-Telangana movement. It was decided that the new state would have 10 districts and Hyderabad would remain the joint capital for 10 years. In December 2013, the Union Cabinet approved the AP Reorganisation Bill, thereby, paving the way for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

In spite of stiff opposition from Congress parliamentarians and ministers from Andhra Pradesh, the Bill was tabled in Parliament by Home Minister Shinde. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on February 18 and approved by the Rajya Sabha two days later. Despite massive protests and chaos, the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, announced a special package for Andhra Pradesh on February 20 in the Rajya Sabha. Singh had said, “Special category status will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh… for a period of five years”.

The Bill included appropriate fiscal measures — tax incentives to promote industrialization and economic growth in both states — that were to be adopted by the Centre. It also provided for a special development package for backward regions of Andhra Pradesh, especially for Rayalaseema and districts in the northern coastal region.

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