Even before taking oath as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the victorious YSR Congress Party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy made an unusual request to the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to relieve a senior IPS officer of his choice, working in Hyderabad, so that he could be deputed to AP cadre and made the state intelligence chief. KCR, as the Telangana Chief Minister is popularly known, readily agreed to the request.
Such a communication and a swift response was unthinkable even a few months ago. Jagan’s predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu and KCR have been bitter rivals and had used choicest epithets against each other in the December 2018 Assembly elections in Telangana.
In a refreshing departure from the bitterness and rancour that marked the relationship between the sibling Telugu states in the past, Jagan and KCR share an excellent rapport and have made a public display of their blossoming friendship on several occasions.
The working relationship between the two leaders started on a positive note even before Jagan was sworn-in as the Chief Minister. Following Jagan’s request, the process of deputation of Stephen Ravindra, a 1999-batch IPS officer of Telangana cadre working as Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Hyderabad range, is now underway. Once the central government clears it, he will take over as the intelligence chief of AP. He had earlier served as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Jagan’s father and Chief Minister of the combined AP YS Rajasekhar Reddy.
Bonhomie in the air
At a time when the two Telugu states are locked in a bitter wrangle over a plethora of bifurcation-related issues, the bonhomie between the two Chief Ministers augurs well for the future and it is widely hoped that they would set to resolve the pending issues in a spirit of mutual accommodation and conciliation.
In a clear indication of an attempt to reset the inter-state relations, Jagan has conveyed to KCR about his plan to have a camp office in Hyderabad, manned by teams of senior officials, to coordinate with their Telangana counterparts on a regular basis to sort out the pending issues between the two states. As per the AP Reorganisation Act of 2014, Hyderabad remains the common capital for the two states till 2024 before becoming the permanent capital of Telangana.
Unlike Chandrababu Naidu, who shifted his base entirely to Vijayawada, Jagan is keen on utilising the infrastructure in Hyderabad, particularly the office complexes in the Secretariat that were allocated to AP. “By having a presence in Hyderabad in the form of a camp office and a regular interaction with Telangana officials, we can have a harmonious working relationship and will be able to resolve all pending issues over time,” a close aide of Jagan told The Federal.
Regular meetings can be held to thrash out pending issues pertaining to the power utilities, higher education and prohibition and excise and the officials of the common institutions, listed in the Reorganisation Act, can also have consultations.
The division of employees of the power utilities, distribution of assets of AP Higher Education Council and appropriation of arrears of AP Distilleries and Beverages Corporation are among the unresolved issues between the two states. In fact, the pending power bills had become a campaign issue during the December 2018 Assembly elections in Telangana.
“Both the Chief Ministers are convinced that coordination between the officers of the departments concerned was essential to resolve the pending issues. In fact, it was magnanimous of KCR to have instructed the officials to make arrangements for the AP CM’s camp office in the city and also to keep some office blocks in the Secretariat complex ready for AP officials to use,” the sources 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 Srisailam Project.
AP has been arguing that injustice had been 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 were allocated on location basis.
Position of strength
The growing political friendship between KCR and Jagan stems from their position of strength and clearly defined turfs for their parties. KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Jagan’s YSRCP are confined to their respective states. This is in contrast to Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which tried in vain to revive its political fortunes in Telangana by forging “Maha Kutami” (grand alliance) with the Congress and CPI in the last Assembly elections. However, the experiment failed miserably at the hustings.
The division of some of the institutions mentioned in the Schedules 9 and 10 of the Reorganisation Act, particularly those with only cash and no fixed assets, sharing of loans accumulated in the combined AP and irritants in the sharing of Krishna river waters are some of the sticking points.
Out of the 91 institutions listed in the Schedule 9 of the Reorganisation Act, the Sheila Bhide Committee had submitted its report with respect to 78 institutions while the remaining are still under examination. The difficulties also arose after AP objected to the definition of the word ‘headquarters’ of some of the institutions. The combined state had loans of ₹1,66,522 crore but the share of the two states has been determined only for ₹1,48,066 crore.