India’s twin states part ways with discord

Sharing resources between Telangana and parent state of Andhra Pradesh becomes sore point as bifurcation is completed.

Telangana's backers have been spearheading the movement for a separate state for over three decades [AFP]

Anyone visiting the southern Indian city of Hyderabad today would be hit by a riot of pink. Almost every traffic intersection and city centre in the state capital has been adorned with the colours of the political party that fought for the birth of India’s 29th state, Telangana.

 Around 10 districts have been alloted to Telanagana and 13 will remain with Andhra Pradesh [Al Jazeera]

At the stroke of midnight on June 2, supporters of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) celebrated the formal bifurcation of southern state of Andhra Pradesh with an array of fireworks and cheers of “Jai Telangana” (Hail Telangana).

“This is a golden moment for us and the state of Telangana which is supposed to become the 29th state and involves sacrifices,” Syed Salim Pasha, a student from Osmania University in Hyderabad, told the Reuters news agency.

Telangana’s backers have been spearheading the movement for a separate state for over three decades against what they alleged as the economic and administrative dominance by the well-off southern region, collectively called Seemandhra.

Their dream was finally realised after the previous Congress party-led federal government passed a law to create Telangana amid widespread opposition from the residual part of Andhra Pradesh.

But in the week leading up to the division, the challenge of moving government employees and sharing the water resources, seems telling of the tumultuous relationship between the two sister states.

Employee split

The division of employees was the thorniest issue, as more than 47,000 government employees found out their status only on Monday, while the head of the future governments have indulged in rhetorics

Things heated up after K Chandrasekhar Rao, the Telangana chief minister and one time protégé of Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister-designate, said that there was no room for Seemandhra employees under his government.

Mixed reactions to India’s new state.

“How can a Telangana government, with a Telangana chief minister and a Telangana chief secretary have people from Seemandhra working for them?…If they still insist and force some 50 Seemandhra employees on us, we won’t let them inside the gates of the secretariat. Or we will transfer them to some god forsaken place.”

The difficulty of dividing up 1,865 employees of the secretariat, about 7,500 in various other departments, and countless zonal employees across Andhra Pradesh’s 13 districts and Telangana’s 10 districts was not made easy by emotional workers’ unions wanting lines to be drawn. 

“Employees were the initiators of the Telangana movement then in 1969 and now,” M Narender Rao, president of the Telangana Secretariat Employees Association, told Al Jazeera. “So, it is fair to ask the Andhra employees to go to their state and serve their government.”

A person’s nativity is calculated based on whether they were registered as locals or non-locals in the previous government and whether or not they were educated in Telangana.

It has become a dilemma especially for long-time residents of IT-hub of Hyderabad, which will be the shared capital between the two for a period of 10 years.

U Murali Krishna, president of Andhra Pradesh Secretariat Employees Association, told Al Jazeera that employees should have the option to choose the state they want to work in because the definition of nativity has blurred in the past 60 years, an idea that has received heated responses.

However, KC Rao’s vision for a definitive split may not be that simple. Officials involved in the division process told Al Jazeera that a complete vertical division was impossible as it would create a vacuum and bring a department’s work to a halt.

So a temporary solution – divide up the workforce despite nativity, something the vice chairman of the Employees Joint Action Committee, Madhusudhan Reddy, said was dangerous.

“Such a division forces the employees to work in the state he does not belong to and this creates tension, [especially] if the employees occupy key position in a particular department,” Reddy told Al Jazeera.

Polavaram dispute

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh’s Naidu, who was an election ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party that won the national elections, was seen hobnobbing with top officials in New Delhi and laid out his agenda last week.


K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was sworn in as Telangana’s first chief minister on June 2, has made it clear that Seemandhra employees have to move. [Mrigakshi Shukla/ Al Jazeera]

He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, demanding a special financial package for the state. His government will have to undertake huge infrastructure projects as most of the industries and educational institutions are lost to Hyderabad.

Naidu has also asked the federal government to expedite the Polavaram Project, a multi-irrigation dam, which has become sore point between the two states.

Seemandhra sees the project as a way to tackle its irrigation problems once its access to the Godavari and Krishna river is interrupted by Telangana, which holds the catchment area. TRS has opposed the project as it threatens to submerge 136 villages in Telangana.

Pentapati Pulla Rao, an economist and an activist, said that the problem lies with both sides. He said that the project, which was conceived in the 1940s during the British rule, is outdated as it does not take into the account the settlements, and that KC Rao did not raise the issue when the bill to bifurcate the state was passed.

According to PP Rao, the only solution would be to consult experts, and for Telangana and Seemandhra to frame the situation from the perspective of the 300,000-400,000 people who will be displaced.

He said, so long as the two chief ministers are at each other’s throats, neither state will see development.

“Both governments should sit together and discuss in an amicable way,” told Al Jazeera. “Otherwise the future is not going to be as cosy as they want.”

Reporting from Hyderabad by JN Raju.

Follow Umika Pidaparthy on Twitter: @UmikaP

Source: Al Jazeera