A group of Indian federal ministers set up to study the division of southern Andhra Pradesh state has come up with the idea of including two more districts to the new state, in a move that is expected to douse the controversy and violence that has followed in the wake of the original proposal.
The group of ministers are scheduled to give in their report to the union cabinet later on Tuesday which will draw up the contours of the new Telengana state. Earlier the proposal was to have 10 districts in Telengana. Now, in the revised version, there will be 12 districts in the new state and it could be renamed Rayala-Telangana (since the two new districts are from the Rayalaseema region).
Since July 30 this year when the ruling Congress-led coalition in New Delhi resolved to carve up Andhra Pradesh, violence has rocked the state with those opposed to the division taking to the streets in protest and targeting politicians and officials in favour of a reorganisation.
The core of the controversy is over the status of the provincial capital Hyderabad which falls in the Telengana region and will be part of the new state. This has triggered mass protests among various sections in the other part of Andhra Pradesh who feel that they stand to lose out as Hyderabad is the centre of commercial and industrial activity in the region.
Despite proposing that Hyderabad would be a joint capital of the two states for 10 years before reverting as capital of Telengana, the protests have continued.
Now, with Kurnool and Anantapur districts from the Rayalaseema region to join the carved out state of Telangana, there is a better chance of acceptability since these two regions can utilise Hyderabad as capital.
Also, in what analysts see as a deft political move by the Congress, with the latest addition of two districts to Telengana, there will be 147 assembly constituencies and 21 seats to the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) in both the bifurcated states. This is calculated to help the Congress in the forthcoming elections.
More importantly, the latest proposal will neutralise two regional parties, the Telugu Desam and the YSR Congress, whose organisation will get divided between the two states. Also, the two additional districts will ensure the passing of the proposal during voting in the State Assembly since the numbers will swing the Congress way as 25 extra legislators will most likely vote for it.