Within just a year of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the creation of Telangana the two States could not have learnt to live without each other. Both States still have to negotiate through the terms of separation, beyond the division of assets and the sharing of resources. Telangana saw in the bifurcation new possibilities and opportunities for growth and development, and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government under K. Chandrasekhar Rao doubtless began with a tremendous amount of goodwill. After years of struggle for statehood that entailed much suffering and disruption of normal life, the people of Telangana seem prepared to wait a little longer for the promised transformation to materialise. But while the demand for a separate State took the form of identity politics, issues of backwardness and uneven development remain at the top of the people’s list of grievances.
Unlike earlier when they could blame the elite sections of coastal Andhra for taking away the fruits of development, especially Hyderabad, the people of Telangana now have none but their own elected representatives to find fault with. Investments in infrastructure and the leveraging of the strengths of Hyderabad, especially in information technology (IT), are good beginnings, but the people in Telangana’s hinterland would want a more even distribution of growth and development. They did not support a separate Telangana merely to replace a ruling elite from coastal Andhra with one from Hyderabad.
With perhaps greater justification, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu concentrated his energies on building a new capital. After the bifurcation, rebuilding Andhra Pradesh was the constant theme and the search for a new capital, which ended in Amaravathi, symbolised this more than anything else. Mr. Naidu, who can take credit for giving Hyderabad a head start in IT during his earlier term as Chief Minister of the undivided State, is quite understandably putting all his efforts into developing the capital region. However, as in Telangana, unless development is even and the benefits of growth are shared by all, resentment is bound to swell in the regions far removed from the capital.
An excessive fascination for IT services and the urban landscape had proved to be Mr. Naidu’s undoing in 2004, and he appears to have learnt his lessons well. Alongside the fascination for IT, there is now concern for the welfare of farmers and landless labourers, and people in far-flung regions with varying needs. Just as for Telangana, the bifurcation can present new possibilities for Andhra Pradesh too. But the two States must see the advantages of greater cooperation and put the painful memories of the separation behind them.