If I were the home minister here is how I would conduct business in tomorrow’s meeting.
In view of the meeting on Telangana with eight Political parties on Jan 5th, coordinated by Home ministry, Mr Chidambaram, can someone forward this to him before tomorrow’s meeting, else publish this in some website/news forum/publish in a newspaper/read out in a TV News channel either English or Telugu.
I. Opening statement:
- First of all set the tone in the opening statement that this is a serious issue which requires enough thought and should not be done hastily which will have long term implications.
- Emphasize this will set precedent for many other such requests from about 13 different states, so need to go about this in a scientific method.
- Do not make blanket statements like Telangana was/is backward this will put all participants especially Congress in a bad position since they were in power for about 40 years in the state and this will backfire as to why Congress did not focus on this region earlier.
- Instead allude to the fact that Telangana had a 30 yr Naxal problem hampering progress and investment.
- Do not mention passing a resolution in state assembly since all know this is a non-starter.
- Do not mention second SRC since pro-Telangana folks will think of this as putting the issue on back-burner.
- Also refer to PM s recent statement about regionalism, provide examples of MNC where there is no tolerance for non-local folks in Mumbai which is completely detrimental to a state/country’s progress, which is not a role model for any other state/region to follow. Quote examples of NRI who are beneficiaries of equal employment oppurtunities abroad which brings the best and brightest to solve the toughest problems.
- Also comment on why the regions backwardness was not brought to light earlier and why did we wait this long to address this issue, this will cause all of the participants to collectively own part of the blame, since all of the participants were in power before.
- Do not talk about specific show of strength rallies/agitations this will only have the other side start more rallies which will ultimately result in total breakdown of law and order.
- Also talk about how zamindari system under Nizam is partly to be blamed, where a few held expanses of land which was thousands of acres while many landless labourers worked with no ownership causing the current situation of inequity and how we are progressing to a more equitable society everyday.
- There is no participation of greater Hyd MLAs/Councillors which is a serious drawback of this session, we need to include Mukesh Gaoud who is the minister from this region and one other person to understand the demand for separate Hyd status through elected members from the greater Hyd region, this has to be fixed as soon as possible, address this issue.
II. Problem statement:
- Provide opportunity for all participants from Telangana to quickly summarize the problems from Telangana region related to water, jobs, education, give all Telangana participants 2 mins each for their opening statement, 9x2 (assuming both TRS participants have same opinion and all other parties have candidates from both regions), this will be the first 20 mins of the meeting, I am just kidding am sure this will take much longer than this.
- Provide all Samaikya Andhra (united Andhra) participants to make a 2 min statement each to understand their position, 7x2, 15 mins.
- The one and only item which I can think of which every attendee will agree is coming up with a white paper on revenue and expenditure by district from 1956 till now, all parties/participants from all regions in separate interviews agreed to this during the last week, in a timebound fashion within a week or so a whitepaper should be released, onus should be on CM, Rosiah and cabinet minister Jayapal Reddy, both of them should have access to all facts, both of them should validate this white paper, also understand while issuing white paper Hyd should be considered part of Telangana or do we need a breakdown of Telangana, Hyd, Andhra, Rayala Seema.
Talk about issues/problems related to smaller states:
- Talk about problems related to dividing the state, investments in Hyd from people who are not residents of Hyd, creation of a new capital, law and order situation.
- Also examples of smaller states where all is not rosy e.g. not being financially viable and being hotbeds for Maoism, like Chattisgadh and Jharkhand.
- In the case of a separate Telangana state how will this be financially viable.
- What are the actions we will take to make sure this new state does not become infected with Maoism, smack in the middle of the country.
- Octroi and other state level issues will hamper free movement of goods and services between the newly formed Telangana and Andhra.
Talk about independent status for Hyd.
- Next session should be with MLAs, corporators from Hyd region like Mukesh Goud, sitting Minister who like most of the folks residing in Hyd want independent status to Hyd in the event of splitting, have Warangal as capital of Telangana, some other cities as capital of Andhra/Seema and leave Hyd as the economic powerhouse of both similar to what US does by having state capitals in smaller cities so economic activity in those cities improves and job creation improves as well, a recent independent outlook poll also confirms the same to be the desire of Hyd residents.
Comment on how old this issue is
- If TRS mentions, Telangana being a demand for 50 yrs, Gorkhaland and Vidarbha have been demands for more than 100 yrs, also recent Samaikya Andhra movement, just because it is recent cannot be discarded due to the intensity of the movement.
III. Alternatives to dividing the state: If we go down this path all of the following items should be implemented in two years. The way to sell this is should be as follows, money required to build a new capital should be utilized for the following projects which will be less taxing on the taxpayers and better utilization of funds.
- Completing all existing Jala Yagnam projects started by YSR which will bring 55 lakh acres of land into irrigation in Telangana, complete these projects in a two year time frame.
- Agree on creating more govt aided schools and colleges in Telangana region to bring the numbers to be in line with other parts of the state, prioritize and complete in 2 yrs.
- Tax sops for parts of the state to invite investment.
- For fluoride problem where Nalgonda region not having enough drinking water while they are in close proximity to Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, prioritize canal construction/providing clean drinking water to Nalgonda region this should be a quick hit with lot of benefits.
- On the jobs in state govt in Hyd, clear central policy on local vs non-local for the entire country, where a minimum of 40% jobs are reserved for locals and the remaining 60% can be competed among locals and non-locals, same applies to all three regions of Andhra Pradesh (Telangana, Andhra and Rayalseema), implement this within 2 yrs, also anyone who has been residing in a location for 5 yrs becomes local to the region, this will open jobs in Andhra region for Telangana employees as well,
- Have a computerized system to ensure this system is transparent to all regions and maintained at the state level, all recruitments should be done via this system, no one is complaining about the computerized railway ticketing system (which is more complicated) am not sure why this will not work for a simple function like this, this again should be implemented well within 2 yrs.
- Prioritize Polavaram project as one of the National river linking project, hence Godavari waters will be linked with Krishna which will produce conditions where by which Telangana can take waters from Krishna upstream, provide pakka housing for all displaced due to this project in the next 2yrs so project can actually be completed.
- The way to sell this to all is if we separate the state package that needs to be provided to Andhra will run from 1 lakh cr to 3 lakh cr, instead a fraction of the amount can be spent, about 20, 000 cr in Telangana to complete pending Telangana projects with lift irrigation, since most of the Telangana districts are abour 400 – 600 ft above sea level, mention that Telangana state being on a plateau region needs lift irrigation which is possible with current technology.
- Also the revenues of gas reserves in the K-G basin should be equally shared among all three regions of the state, if the state is to be remained united.
- Distribute excess land in all back parts of the state, Telangana, Srikakulam, Rayala Seema to landless farmers/labourers which will cause farmers to have stake in the game, to be completed within one year.
- Issue of pride of Telangana people: This can easily be addressed by renaming the state as Telangana-Andhra-Seema, so all regions feel they are part of the same proud heritage.
- Last but not least remind everyone that during 2009 state elections the TRS contested in 50 seats in Telangana region and were able to secure only 10 seats, the opinion of the silent majority in Telangana region should not be ignored, though they maybe silent now during recent elections a few months ago they made their voice heard loud and clear by rejecting TRS, the elections in 2009 were a referendum on Telangana statehood though no explicit question was asked in the ballot, publics opinion in this region (Telangana) is loud and clear, they want a united Andhra pradesh.
- Provide a fisheries/marine corridor for development of aqua for the 1000 mile coastal corridor, again revenues/tax receipts of these should be shared among the three regions.
Discussion on items from above section three, open forum discussion on one topic at a time.
V. Who should be part of the committee to address validity of statements, statistical facts and figures, or oversee implementation of alternatives from section III above, to division of state
- One man retired chief justice of India, this person should not be from the south India since all participants want this person to be neutral and if this person is from a neighbouring state their motive and judgement will be questioned.
- Retired IAS officers from both regions with about four lawyers of high court/supreme court, atleast four senior journalists who have more than 15 yr experience as senior journalists with Telugu newspapers.
- If the requirement is just to oversee items from above section three, a union cabinet minister like Jaypal Reddy can help who will be accountable to the PM and Sonia Gandhi to make sure all of the items are implemented in a timebound fashion.
VI. Notes / concluding remarks:
- Agree on frequency of these meetings going forward, this group should meet on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly basis, next meeting should be after the whitepaper (from section II above) is published.
- Agree on future participants, one session with MPS from both regions 5 each, one session with MLAs from each region 10 each, one session with professors, elders from both regions, one session with reired IAS officers, high court judges from both regions.
- Also have enough translators for Telugu ? English for folks like Chiranjeevi who are very passionate about this but are not well versed in English.
- Request all participant political parties to exempt Hyd from protests since this is causing serious concerns for business and transportation and lower revenues for state govt.
- Also request all political parties to request all groups to do business as usual while the current process is underway, so as to not impact revenues to the state.
- Agree that the onus is on participants to convince their political parties / cadre on the outcome of these consultations.
- Some indication as to at what point a bill will be placed in parliament this would be after exhaustive discussions on all points (from sections 3 to 6) meetings have occurred in the coming months with all parties mentioned in section 6, then only bill can be placed in parliament.
An NRI well wisher/..
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