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Sreelatha Menon: The angst of Andhra

The prospect of Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation is making rural Rayalaseema see red

Sreelatha Menon  |  New Delhi 

Sreelatha Menon

Shravan Reddy seems an unlikely spokesperson for the cause of a united Andhra Pradesh - he has no background in activism or political work. He is far removed from cities, based in a village called Sadum, an hour's drive from Tirupati. Till he found employment in a school, he was engaged in construction and maintenance-related work there.

Reddy's concern could be that of any person in the village.

He says the four districts of Rayalaseema, including Chittoor where he lives, as well as the nine districts of coastal Andhra, stare at woe in the event of a bifurcation.

The sentiment is also one against the Congress and its leadership. "The lady's sole ambition is to see her son as prime minister; she doesn't care about the consequences of dividing Andhra," Reddy says, referring to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

In Madanapally, just 50-odd km away, the owner of a sweetmeat shop shares the anti-bifurcation sentiment prevalent in Rayalaseema. He says the Congress leadership sacrificed the interests of the people there for political gains.

The anger and concern are not exactly against the bifurcation, they are against the prospect of losing Hyderabad to Telangana. "Do you know what this means?" asks Reddy. "It means all our power plants, our rivers, the investments by countless people from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in Hyderabad would be wasted. It would all belong to Telangana."

The only solution acceptable to the villagers is a shared capital, as well as a share of the capital's assets. The moment Hyderabad goes Telangana's way, Rayalaseema would lose three quarters of the state's revenue accounted for by Hyderabad, along with all government jobs, Reddy says.

"What would be left for Andhra after the bifurcation? Rice fields, but no water to irrigate those. We will have to pay through our noses for power, which is now in abundance for the whole state." He points to the ironic situation regions other than Telangana find themselves in through the years. He counts the number of those from Chittoor in Rayalaseema who are now members of Parliament and of the legislative Assembly in nearby Bangalore. "People in Rayalaseema put their talent and wealth in Bangalore, while those in coastal Andhra put all their wealth and talent in Telangana. Now, if Telangana happens, we would be left with nothing."


Ahead of the upcoming general elections in the state, Reddy pronounces his verdict. "The Congress won't get a single seat here. But it would sweep Telangana. That is precisely why it is playing this game, at the cost of the future of our people."

Recently, activists from both sides met in Hyderabad to discuss the matter. Even advocates of a separate Telangana accepted if the bifurcation happened, the other side would lag by at least two decades. They predicted water wars between the two sides, as well as an adverse impact on infrastructure in the state.

K S Gopal, one of those who attended the meeting and an advocate of a separate Telangana, said the split should be carried out with some safeguards. He added the people of Andhra Pradesh were enterprising and entrepreneurial and would turn their disadvantage into gains.

As of now, this confidence isn't being seen among those in favour of a united Andhra Pradesh.

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First Published: Sat, November 09 2013. 21:45 IST
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