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Hyderabad blues


The Telengana announcement has raised excitement, speculation and tension. Krishna Sairam reports from the historic city
KRISHNA SAIRAM | Issue Dated: August 18, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Telangana | Hyderabad | Union Territory |

While the decks have been cleared for a new Telangana, a 60-year-old dream come true, the questions this division of Andhra Pradesh raises far outstrip the answers that are on display. What is to be the fate of historical Hyderabad, the country’s fifth largest in terms of population and India’s Facebook capital? Congress general secretary and party affairs in-charge of AP Digvijay Singh has declared that Hyderabad would be the common capital for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for a period of ten years. If it has to be the common capital, then what is the purpose of the state bifurcation?

The city, at the moment, is in the midst of intense speculation and reflection. There is word out that Hyderabad could also be accorded union territory (UT) status. Such a change of status will mean making necessary constitutional amendments. Would these amendments get BJP’s support in Parliament?

Since the linguistic formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956 in the aftermath of the state reorganization commission (SRC), millions have migrated and thronged to Hyderabad from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in its capacity as the state capital. Of a population of nearly 80 lakh, 20 are said to be from these two areas. They have played a vital role in the development of the city.  From the film fraternity to software guys, real estate brokers to business tycoons, many belong to the Andhra region.

In the city itself, there are particular areas dominated by the Seemandhra population; Kukatpally, Vanasthalipuram, Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar are almost totally non-Telangana. Some amount of tension and insecurity has crept into these colonies which are now demanding a constitutional arrangement that guarantees their security.

According to existing rules, Hyderabad will be the part and parcel of Telangana state. Yet, the Union government says that Hyderabad will be the common capital. How it is possible to resolve this contradiction remains far from clear at the present moment.

Officials here say that the administration of Hyderabad will remain with the Telangana government unless the central government declares it as UT for 10 years as the joint capital of the two states. Existing rules do not permit any other arrangement which allow a third party administration for the common capital. Irrespective of the union territory status, protection of migrants and their assets would need to be given legislative sanction along with their very status in the new state.

The process of creating a UT is as lengthy as creating a new state itself. If Hyderabad, designated the common capital, is to be assigned UT status, the central government will have to enact a legislation for the purpose or combine it with the States Reorganisation Bill that will have to be passed for Telangana to become a recognized state.

Areas to be brought under UT will then have to be identified and notified in the bill. An entry must be made to the first schedule in the Constitution about the new UT. An administrator will then be appointed by the central government, who will have an adviser and a team of secretaries to help him administer it.

In the case of another UT, Chandigarh, the governments of Punjab and Haryana had deputed an equal number of IAS officers to be part of a team of secretaries that looked after key departments such as finance, urban development, education and health.

In Andhra Pradesh, state government officials are clueless about steps to be taken by the union government to administer Hyderabad. In the confusion, it is being said that the police will be under control of the Telangana government if the area is not declared a UT, and the movement of elected representatives of the other state, including its chief minister, will be governed by Telangana Police. As about the state secretariat, the present chief minister may continue in the same office block while another block could be converted into the office of the chief minister Telangana - or vice-versa.

There may not be too much of a problem with the assembly either. While one state can use facilities of the existing house, the other can make good with the old assembly building. Since the legislative council has only one building, they could consider holding sessions at different times or make alternative arrangements, an officer told TSI.

As with previous such divisions, residents’ loco standi will become an important issue. Some officials say that the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 will determine the status of migrants in the new Telangana state; this may include the number of years that a person has spent as residence. There is also a general feeling among migrants, employees and businessmen from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions that the Union government would control Hyderabad. Congress sources told TSI that the central leadership was aware of these limitations and has therefore played it safe by buying time. ``Congress leaders do not want the upbeat mood in Telangana to be spoiled with the declaration of UT status,’’ a senior leader from Andhra admitted.

By and large, people are of the view that the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh is politically motivated and fail to keep in view interests of the people. Says IT employee Rajesh, “Sonia Gandhi wants to checkmate BJP, the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress at one stroke. We can’t blame her either because our so-called leaders are prepared to forgo the interests of the state for narrow political gains.’’ That is a point.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017