Lok Satta Junction

For better governance in India.

Taking a stance on Telangana

with 4 comments

Loksatta’s take on the problem of regional imbalance and its solution of decentralization is admirable. On several occasions, JP has called for genuine decentralization with devolution of powers, responsibilities, resources and personnel on the local governments. However, with the midnight announcement of the Congress high command on the statehood of Telangana, the issue is no longer about what is the best way to address regional imbalance. The primary issue now is whether the splitting of the state is acceptable, and if it is, what are the terms of such reorganization? Here is where JP’s response falls far short of an astute political response.

He made it clear that the Lok Satta is not opposed to the formation of Telangana if it is accomplished through constitutional means and in accordance with a consensus built among all the regions of the State. Similarly, the party is not opposed to keeping the State intact if the genuine aspirations of people in Telangana are addressed satisfactorily. He underlined the need once again for arriving at a consensus on the status of Hyderabad since the feelings of people in the entire State are intertwined with the capital for the last five decades.

“Above all people of all regions of the State should be disabused of the notion that creation of a separate State is a disaster or that a separate State is a panacea that will solve all problems.”

He repeatedly appealed to people to realize that the formation of a Telangana State is going to be neither a cataclysmic event for Andhra Pradesh nor a panacea for Telangana problems. “When you are carried away by primordial loyalties and emotional frenzy, everything appears to be a life and death issue.”

Now, there is nothing “wrong” with what he actually said. But there is nothing that would suggest a specific course of action either. Asking for consensus is all good and fine, but to make an impact as a political leader for the masses, JP has to take a stand one way or the other. People look for guidance from their leaders and when opportunity presents itself, an aspiring political leader like JP should use it to demonstrate his capabilities. Everyone knows he is a great intellectual and policy maker, but many are not yet convinced if he is a great political leader. JP won the minds of the people, but will he win the hearts of the people?

The following excerpt from Machiavelli’s The Prince is relevant here (via Atanu Dey):

A prince is further esteemed when he is a true friend or a true enemy, when, that is, he declares himself without reserve in favour of some one or against another. This policy is always more useful than remaining neutral. For if two neighboring powers come to blows, they are either such that if one wins, you will have to fear the victor, or else not. In either of these two cases it will be better for you to declare yourself openly and make war, because in the first case if you do not declare yourself, you will fall a prey to the victor, to the pleasure and satisfaction of the one who has been defeated, and you will have no reason nor anything to defend you and nobody to receive you. For, whoever wins will not desire friends whom he suspects and who do not help him when in trouble, and whoever loses will not receive you as you did not take up arms to venture yourself in his cause.

In the present scenario, the two sides are those for the split and those against.



Written by jujung

December 15, 2009 at 3:42 PM

4 Responses

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  1. My dear fellow Lok Satta colleagues,

    The message from LSP is clear that the solution is in forming an empowered local (City/District) govts for each of the district and also making them financially independent to large extent. Small states do not necessarily provide good governance as has been seen in the past except that one more Governor, CM and Cabinet etc. This article of JP clearly analysis the pros and cons of bifurcation. It is for people to see the impact of bifurcation rather reacting to emotions. Saying no to small states is not enough as it becomes sentimental, LSP suggests better alternative (Empowered local govt see http://www.votemumbai.org for urban local govt for example OR see sixth report of second administration commission (ARC) report on local govts – JP was a member) and also explains why smaller states are not necessarily viable). Politics is for harmonising the conflicting interests and reasoned debate is the answer rather simply saying no to telangana OR yes to telangana. That is what Lok Satta is trying through public posturing as well as back door channels at appropriate levels.

    Surendra Srivastava

    December 15, 2009 at 11:16 PM

  2. Well if small states(meaning smaller administrative divisions) would not necessarily help in better governance, why should I believe that district centered governance(smaller adm. division) would help in better governance.
    Don’t you think you have quite conflicting concepts that you are endorsing equally???


    February 25, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    • Differences:
      1. State assembly is a law-maker. A smaller state can lead to unstable govts. and make law-making a greater hassle.
      2. District elected council is not a law-maker. It only issues some regulations and empowering them means they will have greater financial control on how much money goes to solve various local problems.

      And I think all the people claiming they areas have been discriminated against should also fight for empowering local govts so that they can better control their own destiny.


      March 13, 2010 at 7:24 AM

  3. Don’t you guys understand that making smaller states means the districts get better representation in state administration compared to a large state??
    Why do you miss this point??


    February 25, 2010 at 7:51 AM

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