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Two states

Both K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Chandrababu Naidu must avoid confrontation, show statesmanship.

By: Express News Service |
June 2, 2014 12:03:18 am

At a time recommended by numerology, K. Chandrasekhar Rao will be sworn in today in Hyderabad as Telangana’s first chief minister. Six days later, on June 8, N. Chandrababu Naidu will take oath as chief minister of the remaining territory of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, at a place yet to be determined (Vijayawada or Guntur). A clear indication of the hastiness with which the final bifurcation was effected, sealed by the passage of legislation in Parliament this February, is that it is still not known what may eventually be the formal name of the successor state Naidu leads. Even the deadline for partitioning of state employees to report to the two states was just about met, with the DoPT finally working out the formula on Saturday. Many uncertainties still inform the division of assets and personnel, and it will test the statesmanship and leadership of Rao and Naidu to avoid bad blood, confrontation and, crucially, to address the obvious anxieties of the people.

There needs to be a firm distinction made between territorial division and transfer of population on ethnic grounds. A dangerous row was ignited by Rao this month when he implied state employees hailing from the Andhra region would not be permitted to work in Telangana. It begged questions about Rao’s narrow and confrontational identity politics versus the regional aspirations fuelling the demand for Telangana going back to the 1960s. But given the anxieties over Hyderabad, the concerns of its multi-ethnic and multi-religious residents as well as of those who perceive a stake in the city’s economic opportunities, Rao’s statement raised valid apprehensions about his capacity to graduate from agitationist to leader. Naidu too has a challenge to put a lid on ethnic tensions. As leader of the successor state without a capital or the obvious hub so far for what’s called Andhra-preneurship, he must hit the ground running, turning it into an opportunity to upgrade the state’s many urban centres.

Their first days in office demand from both leaders unambiguous signals that they respect the plurality of their administrative realms and that they will, from now on, adhere to legitimate avenues to work out disputes over assets and resources — and that identity will be firmly kept out of disputes.

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