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The Telangana tangle has got messier with the covert entry of the idea of Rayala-Telangana. Like many of the other unresolved issues — water-sharing, policing and the likely capital of the two states to be formed from Andhra Pradesh — the idea of the inclusion of two districts of the Rayalaseema region into Telangana is still being debated. But if the political and public response to the idea, apparently a part of the group of ministers’ deliberations, is any indication, Andhra Pradesh is set to go up in flames again. The main reason why the idea is being contested so severely is because, like the Centre’s decision on forming Telangana, it is being seen as a ploy of the Congress to gain maximum political mileage. The division of Rayalaseema, which has four districts, is likely to weaken Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s hold over the region while throwing a challenge to the monopolistic influence of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi over the new state. Both would be of advantage to the Congress, which could also win back the support of the Majlis-e-Ittahadel Muslimeen that has always preferred the merger of the two Rayalaseema districts with Telangana. The inclusion could, possibly, also ensure the passage of the draft Telangana bill in the Andhra Pradesh assembly since the 28 legislators of the two districts are likely to support the pro-Telangana lobby. Those in support of Rayala-Telangana have also cited the precision with which it would divide Andhra Pradesh — the two states would get to contribute an equal number of seats to the Central legislature — and also the Krishna waters that would go into the control of Telangana as an upper riparian state.

Irrespective of the losses and gains, the late flowering of the idea of Rayala-Telangana testifies to the government’s ham-handedness in dealing with the division of Andhra Pradesh. If economic backwardness and cultural distinctness are the qualifiers for a separate Telangana, there is already suspicion that Rayalaseema (the most backward region in the state and culturally distinct from both Telangana and Seemandhra) could claim statehood according to the same principles. The Telangana muddle goes to show that India has missed the chance to re-examine the logic of state reorganization. Without it, there is little hope that the fires in Andhra Pradesh, or in other parts of the country, can be permanently doused.