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LOST CAUSE

The Telangana issue hangs like a millstone around the neck of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. It has earned the government the rare distinction of seeing its own allies appeal for a vote-of-confidence in the Lok Sabha. If the move has been defeated so far, it is not for want of trying on the part of the Congress legislators from Seemandhra, but because the Opposition has got cold feet making common cause with the anti-Telangana lobby after having backed Telangana’s creation for so long. The situation, embarrassing at the Centre, is downright dangerous in Andhra Pradesh, where the assembly session is supposed to mull over the draft Telangana bill. There, the rebel Congress chief minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, is waiting to defeat the bill with the support of around 153 legislators from Seemandhra against 119 from Telangana. The last-minute consideration to include two Rayalaseema districts in Telangana could have saved the situation by inducting the support of 28 legislators from Rayalaseema for Telangana. However, the idea was shelved, perhaps to keep the original game plan intact — that is to garner the support of the entire Telangana region for the Congress.

But nothing seems destined to guarantee the Congress votes from the state, either divided or undivided. For one, there is little possibility now that the Congress will be able to ready the bill for its passage by the Lok Sabha before the 2014 polls. This could only mean that the party would have neither the support of the Telangana region nor of Seemandhra. To the people of Telangana, it stands guilty of failing to deliver on a promise. To the people of Seemandhra, it is guilty of tearing apart the state and robbing the region of the jewel in its crown — Hyderabad — which has been promised to Telangana. In its reckless gamble to rake in maximum profit from the political turmoil in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress has managed to make a permanent enemy in the YSR Congress without any assurance from the Telangana Rashtra Samiti that it will become a permanent ally. The loss of Andhra Pradesh is bound to have a telling effect on the fortunes of the party at the Centre, especially since its hold on the other crucial state in the South — Tamil Nadu — is just as precarious. Tamil Nadu will still have the satisfaction of being promoted by either of the Dravida Kazhagam parties. For Andhra Pradesh, the damages done in the countdown to 2014 may prove to be irradicable.