People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 50

December 12, 2010

 

Uncertainty Continues to Haunt Andhra Pradesh

 

T Ravi

 

THE state of Andhra Pradesh continues to reel under political instability, uncertainty and prolonged non-governance, and the new chief minister, N Kirankumar Reddy, sits in his chair uncomfortably. The state of the state goes to show once again that a change of face is no substitute for coherent and transparent policies. Though acclaimed as Ďdynamicí and relatively young at 50, the new CM is yet to make his mark after taking over the reign two weeks ago.

 

The very formation of the new ministry turned out to be a prolonged affair with the high command dithering on the selection. Then the allotment of portfolios was another headache as more than half of the ministers, particularly the senior members of YSR cabinet, openly challenged Kiranís authority and unilateral attitude. At last the matter was settled temporarily with high commandís intervention. Right at the time of his swearing in, various sections of people were waging struggles on their still long pending grievances. The NGOs are almost on war-path for non-implementation of the earlier commitments and present demands. Kisans of the state are a distressed lot with no prospects of selling their yield because of the overfilled FCI godowns and the buyersí tantrums. Added to this, many parts of the state are reeling under incessant rains. Then, the problems of recruitment of teachers, strike by beedi workers, agitations by ASHA and health workers, and fee reimbursement stir by students have all piled up. The earlier Rosaiah government, which never actually took off, has left a legacy of inaction and apathy for the present one. Instead of looking into them straight, however, Kiran has been pathetically plagued by internal squabbles from the start.

 

Then there is the vexing tension on separatism versus unity demands in various parts of the state. The December 9, 2009 announcement by union home minister Chidambaram was the watermark and things are not normal since then. The Sri Krishna commission, appointed by the centre to seek opinions of people from various parts and parties, is likely to submit its report before the year ends and different parties are bracing themselves to meet any eventuality. While claiming that Telangana state has already been given by the centre, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is preparing for a bigger and more bitter struggle even while offering to Ďstrengthení the Congress. After warning of a civil war some time ago, K Chandrasekhar Rao later shifted to Gandhian style non-cooperation. Contradictions and differences in the separatist camp, with Gaddar and Vimala forming their own outfits and the Congress and TDP leaders distancing themselves from the Joint Action Committee (JAC) had its effect. Congress leaders from Telangana are vying for ministerial berths after they once spurned the same for appearance sake. But this has only dampened their spirit. Devoid of any positive, specific signal from the centre, the TRS appears to have reconciled to the reality. Now it is the BJP that is trying to pose as the new champion of Telangana.

 

Meanwhile, various sections of people are conducting struggles that transcend the regional borders. But, on the whole, there is suspense in every mind as to what would happen after December 31. The Sri Krishna commission has, on its part, made it abundantly clear that it would make no recommendations, confine itself to presenting various scenarios and report the mood of the people fn different regions. So to expect too much after December 31 is unrealistic and to be complacent is impermissible. In this connection, the CMís remarks that he would deal sternly with the law and order problems has led to many protests. He also calculated that the loss caused by these movements amounts to about Rs 6,000 crore. But how the state and centre would act is an open question. One only hopes that the safety and wellbeing of all Telugu people is protected in the process and a democratic, meaningful solution is found.

 

One more factor to add to uncertainty is Jagan who resigned from the Congress and the parliament immediately after Kiran assumed office. What made matters worse for Jagan was the shifting of loyalty by his uncle, Y S Vivekananda Reddy, who is at present an MLC and was an MP and an MLA earlier. Jagan then labelled the big charge that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was out to split his family. But Viveka refused to budge. He joined the cabinet as minister of agriculture and announced his readiness to take on Jagan in the by-election if the high command orders him to do so. After all these developments, Jagan announced to form a new political party within 45 days with late NTRís slogan of self-respect, good politics and struggle against intrigues etc. But he has so far not responded to the peopleís woes. What will be his future course is yet to be seen. His main plank so far is that he was denied the throne after his fatherís death even though 154 MLAs had signed for him. That he was not allowed to take out his Odarpu (Consolation) Yatra is yet another complaint. Though he warned of a tidal wave once he loses patience, so far there is no trace of any such thing. While the government has a majority of only 8 in the house, some 15 plus MLAs are said to be supporting Jagan. As he has already left the party, many feel reluctant to join his camp. The immediate focus would be on Cuddaph and Pulivendula Lok Sabha and assembly by-elections respectively. The likelihood is that Jagan would concentrate on the assembly seat and enthuse his party by securing a huge margin. But all this is only future. For the present, he is confined to sentimental talks only. How he forms a party and sustains it in an already divided political spectrum is to be seen.

 

The Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) is all set to support the Congress in face of the Jagan factor. There is also the talk of its joining the ministry, but it has so far refrained from it. The BJP is striving to capitalise on the separate Telangana demand; its Delhi rally is a case in point. There is also the speculation that the BJPís Gali Janardhana Reddy, close to Jagan and family, is hobnobbing for a tie-up. Though no dramatic changes are expected immediately, all this is certain to give a setback to the Congress. Given this scenario, there is little that Kirankumar can do to dispel the ongoing instability.

 

In the CPI(M)ís view, this instability would stay in the state unless the state has mass struggles on burning issues.