The bonhomie displayed by the chief ministers of the two Telugu states, K Chandrasekhar Rao and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, during the latter’s swearing-in ceremony in Vijayawada, augurs well for the sibling states still grappling with the bifurcation blues.
Unlike the bitterness that marked the relationship between the two states in the past, when Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister of Andhra, there is now a new sense of hope because of the friendly equation and warmth between the two leaders. The speeches made by them after the oath-taking ceremony marked a refreshing departure from the hostility and rancour that characterised the relationship between the two states ever since the division of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 to carve out a separate Telangana state.
KCR, as the Telangana Chief Minister is popularly known, attended the swearing-in ceremony, held amid much fanfare at the Indira Gandhi stadium in the coastal Andhra city, as a special guest. He floored the gathering with an emotional address, calling for joint efforts to make both the Telugu states prosperous.
“This is a historic occasion for the Telugu people all over the world. It marks the beginning of a new phase in the relations of the two states. It is not the time to cross swords but to shake hands and work unitedly for the well being of the people of both the states,” KCR said, drawing loud cheers from a large gathering.
New sense of camaraderie
The occasion served to demonstrate a new sense of camaraderie between the two regional satraps which was in sharp contrast to the hostilities of the past. The equation between Jagan’s predecessor Naidu and KCR was anything but cordial. They often had public spats on inter-state disputes arising out of what is largely believed as a clumsy and unscientific bifurcation.
On the political front, KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Jagan’s YSR Congress Party are on the same page and share similar views on the need for regional parties coming together to form Federal Front as an alternative to the BJP and Congress.
“It is almost surreal to see KCR addressing a public meeting in the heart of Vijayawada. However, one must give credit to KCR for his way with the words and a sense of occasion. He has impressed Andhra people with his genuineness,” said a senior journalist K Ramesh Babu who has covered the Telangana statehood movement for years.
At the height of the Telangana agitation, spearheaded by KCR, the people of Andhra were routinely targeted for their “hegemony” and “exploitation of Telangana resources.”
Showering praises on Jagan
The gathering went into a rapture when KCR showered praises on Jagan and wished that he would rule the state for at least two to three terms. “Jagan is a true leader of masses. He has scripted a stupendous victory. He has proved to the world that he has the required grit, determination and commitment to take the state new heights of glory,” KCR said.
“He may be young in age but has taken up an onerous task. I am sure he will be a great success. He has the legacy of his father (Y S Rajasekhar Reddy) providing him courage and strength,” the Chief Minister said.
Assuring complete support from the people of Telangana to the new government, he said that there was enough scope for the two Telugu states to grow together and achieve high growth.
“A major challenge before the two governments is the optimum utilisation of Godavari river waters. It is time to overcome the issues in sharing the Krishna river waters by addressing the concerns of each another. Every inch of both the Telugu States should be covered with lush green crops by making use of their due share of river waters,” he said.
Baggage of the past
Soon after bifurcation, the two states were locked in a bitter confrontation over a plethora of issues, including sharing of river waters, power, division of government employees, allocation of buildings to house government offices in Hyderabad, which will be the common capital till 2024 before becoming the permanent capital of Telangana.
The two states have, in the past, accused each other of violating the provisions of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014. There was also a wrangling over the division of assets and funds pertaining to the institutions and organisations listed in Schedule IX and X of the Act.
On the Krishna river water dispute, AP had often accused Telangana, which became the upper riparian state following the division, of violating the directives of the Krishna River Water Management Board by going ahead with power generation at the Srisailam Project.
Andhra has been arguing that injustice was done to the state due to inconsistencies in the Reorganisation Act. AP received only 46 per cent of the revenues of the combined AP while accounting for 58 per cent of its population as confirmed by the 14th Finance Commission. The assets were allocated on location basis while debt liabilities were distributed on population basis, it was argued.
Similarly, refund of taxes was to be shared between Telangana and AP on population basis but was allocated on location basis.