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NO FULL STOPS

Since late last year, the Andhra Pradesh reorganization bill has moved fast — from the president to the Andhra Pradesh assembly and then back to the Centre. In reality, this has been a Sisyphean exercise because the Telangana issue is stuck where it was. That is, in the cross hairs of a political battle whose strategy is dictated entirely by the coordinates of the forthcoming general elections. The result is a ceaseless repetition of the same drama — what happened in the Andhra Pradesh assembly is waiting to happen again in Parliament, and this is exactly what had happened in the first session of the winter assembly of Parliament before the bill had reached the state assembly. Congress legislators from Seemandhra can be expected to stall the proceedings of the House to prevent a debate or the possibility of its passage, and this could lead to a counter-offensive from pro-Telangana legislators in the form of more disruptions. As the leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, indicated recently that when the Congress could not keep its own house in order, the Opposition could hardly be blamed for the impasse in Parliament, where 38 other bills are waiting to be considered. What Ms Swaraj may have left unstated is that so far as the political configurations in Andhra Pradesh and their expected impact on the electoral mathematics at the Centre are concerned, the Congress’s unruliness suits the Opposition fine. If the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance fails to pass the Andhra Pradesh reorganization bill in Parliament, it will lose whatever gains it had hoped to reap in the state by giving the go-ahead to Telangana’s formation. The advantage clearly accrues to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which may be inching towards an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party to maximize its vote share in a state that has always played a crucial role for any party trying to form a government at the Centre.

With its ally, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, wanting 13 amendments to the Andhra Pradesh reorganization bill and its own chief minister, N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, demanding 9,024 changes in it after having steered the bill’s defeat in the state assembly, the Congress might as well admit that Telangana has been a debacle. Had the Congress cared less for its tally in the general elections and more for political ethics, the kind its vice-president vouches for, both Andhra Pradesh and the Congress would not have been in such a mess.