The Narendra Modi led NDA government’s formula that all burning issues between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh should be resolved through negotiations alone seems to be working after a two and a half years’ wait. Both the states have agreed to abide by the arbitration of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan to sort out the issues.
This formula appears to have begun yielding results as the second conciliatory meeting between the two states before the Governor in Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad on Thursday solved at least nine out of 110 issues. The first meeting was held on 1 February and the next meeting will be held on 26 February.
AP is represented by two senior ministers Yanamala Ramakrishnudu and K. Achhennaidu and a team of senior officials, while Telangana was led by senior ministers T. Harish Rao and G. Jagadeswar Reddy and government adviser on interstate matters G. Vivek.
Distributing the assets and employees of around 100 institutions included in the 9th and 10th Schedules of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014, division of Hyderabad High Court, handing over the buildings allotted to AP in the Secretariat and repatriation of employees from both the states to their respective native states are the key issues.
Though both the states are warring over the distribution of river waters of Godavari and Krishna, they have been fighting over them before the designated authorities set up by the Centre. Thanks to the running passions among politicians and people’s organiSations on these issues, the governments too adopted confrontationist stances and were unwilling to let go the tensions.
As the two states repeatedly approached the Centre seeking resolution of these problems in the last two years, the NDA government has asked the Governor that he should take initiative to bring both the sides to talks and solve the issues. At the same time, the Centre also told the states that they should be ready to sort out their issues in Hyderabad level only.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has studied the continuation of differences between Telangana and AP even after two years of the combined state bifurcation has come to the view that any intervention from the Centre would not only solve the issues, but also aggravate the problem, according to a Raj Bhavan senior official who spoke to The Sunday Guardian on Friday.
The MHA was guided by the bitter experience of two government-appointed committees failing to resolve the distribution of employees between the two states. Whenever a panel made some recommendations to allot some employees to them, there were strong protests followed by a lack of cooperation to implement the orders. As a result the distribution of employees has become a burning issue between them.
According to sources, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is believed to have told both the CMs—K. Chandrasekhar Rao (Telangana) and Chandrababu Naidu (AP)—that the Centre would stay away from the states’ disputes in keeping with the spirit of cooperative federalism. It would be better to solve inter-state problems through talks, he is learnt to have advised them.
At the Thursday meeting it was decided to divide the nine corporations—of different castes and vocations—which are included in the 9th and 10th schedules of the bifurcation Act. Still there are 91 institutions which need to be divided between the two states.
Division of the High Court is a major issue between Telanagana and Andhra Pradesh. The ruling TRS alleges that most of the judicial officials and subordinate judges are from Andhra. AP is ready to divide the HC once a brand new building of the court was built in Amaravati.
Handing over of four blocks of buildings allotted to AP in Secretariat in Hyderabad too has become a major issue. At the time of bifurcation three years ago, the MHA has allotted five blocks of Secretariat to AP as Hyderabad would be the common capital for both the states till 2014. However, AP CM Chandrababu Naidu has moved his secretariat to Amaravati from 10 October 2016.
Now that the buildings are vacant and there are no employees to look them after, Telangana government seeks to take possession of them immediately, so that it can construct a brand new Secretariat by demolishing all the existing buildings soon. Telangana CM KCR has written several letters to the Centre on this.
However, AP refuses to hand over the vacant buildings to Telangana unless other pending issues are resolved between both the states. While talking to this newspaper over telephone, Achhennaidu said that: “We too have pressure from our people that our rightful ownership of Secretariat buildings cannot be given up so easily, without solving other issues like transfer of employees”.
But, Achennaiudu expressed happiness over the beginning of conciliatory process between the two states at least now. Telangana minister Harish Rao too told this newspaper on Friday that direct negotiations between the two states was a good beginning instead of running to the courts on each and every issue. “We are happy that the Governor has taken the responsibility of solving our pending issues and it would be good to solve them at Hyderabad level only”.