The ugly scenes in Parliament last week involving MPs of Andhra Pradesh over the Telangana Bill boil down to the issue of Hyderabad. Sreenivas Janyala explains why.
It was one of the most dramatic days even the most disruptive Parliament session in India’s history had seen. On February 13, MPs agitating against Telangana broke glass items, flung computers, allegedly brandished a knife and sprayed pepper from cans, sending colleagues to the hospital sneezing, coughing or with their eyes watering. If at the centre of this political theatre lay a state about to be bifurcated, nowhere do the divisions or emotions run higher than in a city that finds itself sandwiched between the two — Hyderabad.
One aspect of it is shrewd economics. Many of the politicians, actors, hoteliers, doctors, academicians and builders who have invested in the city, including the main characters in last week’s Parliament pepper storm, are from Seemandhra — the term used for the regions Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, which will remain a part of Andhra Pradesh, once Telangana is carved out of it.
The other is the bigger question which nobody wants to answer now publicly, but is weighing heavy on minds — 10 years later, when Hyderabad ceases to be the joint capital, which other city can serve as its replacement for Seemandhra?
Lagadapati Rajagopal, the Congress MP from Vijayawada who sprayed pepper and broke a glass item on a table in the Lok Sabha just before the Bill to create Telangana was to be tabled last week, has extensive business interests in Hyderabad. He owns the
Rs 15,000-crore Lanco Group of Companies which runs power projects, real estate ventures, sponge iron companies and civil works in the city. The Lanco Hills in Hyderabad is said to be Rajagopal’s dream project. With an investment of over $1.5 billion, it boasts of luxurious apartments, villas, office spaces, landscaped avenues, hotels, malls and shopping complexes.
The other MP who created a ruckus in the House, the TDP’s M Venugopal Reddy — he snatched the microphone of two other MPs and allegedly brandished a knife — too has business interests in Hyderabad. The MP from Narasaropet who has led the TDP’s anti-Telangana agitation is the director and promoter of the Ramky Group, which has invested in multi-crore real estate projects in Hyderabad and adjoining Ranga Reddy districts, infrastructure and pharma companies. Ramky is one of the leading groups building luxury apartments and villas in Hyderabad’s IT corridor, and has invested over Rs 1,000 crore in these projects. Sources say that Ramky has projects adding up to over Rs 9,000 crore in the Telangana region.
If both Rajagopal and Reddy are from Seemandhra, so are other powerful names in politics, films and business. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who is continued…
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.