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A thaw in ties between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy felicitates Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in Hyderabad.
| Photo Credit: ANI

The meeting between the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday was the first step towards improving ties between the two States.

Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu discussed several issues that have strained relations between the two States for more than a decade. The two hour-long meeting comes at a time when opinions on the bifurcation of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh continue to play a role in the politics of both States.

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The Chief Ministers decided to put in place a three-level mechanism to resolve the bifurcation issues that arose after the enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, carving out a separate State of Telangana. At the first level is a committee of three officials, each of the rank of Chief Secretary from the two States, who will come up with solutions to pending issues. If some disputes remain unresolved by the bureaucrats, they will be referred to a committee of ministers of the two States. Finally, the most vexatious issues will be referred to the two Chief Ministers.

Mr. Reddy and Mr. Naidu also expressed keenness to meet every now and then to ensure that ties between their States grow stronger. They agreed to constitute a committee of senior Indian Police Service officers to check the movement of drugs and narcotics between the two States. They also tentatively reached an agreement on information and intelligence-sharing to tackle this problem.

Past meetings

Similar meetings have taken place in the past. E.S.L. Narasimhan, as Governor, convened a meeting of former Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Mr. Naidu, in 2015 with the objective of thrashing out a solution to bifurcation problems between the two newly formed States.

In 2019, too, Mr. Rao met the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Following their meeting, the Andhra Pradesh government handed over the buildings in the State Secretariat in its possession to Telangana, paving the way for the construction of the new Secretariat building in Hyderabad.

Mr. Rao and Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy met the next year at the same venue in January 2020. They discussed again issues of bifurcation and the modalities to resolve them. But the meeting drew flak from the Opposition Congress later, with the party charging Mr. Rao of allowing Andhra Pradesh to draw more water from the Krishna river than the share allocated to it, at the expense of Telangana’s interests.

Seen against this background, the meeting of the two Chief Ministers on Saturday assumes greater significance. “They are intent on assuaging the hurt feelings of the two sides because of the decisions taken in the past. They have resolved to take concrete steps that will help improve the bond between the two States,” said a senior official who participated in the meeting.

At a meeting of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)’s Telangana leaders and cadres on Sunday. Mr. Naidu said that his government would adopt a “give and take” approach. He said that the TDP government would take decisions factoring in the aspirations of the people of both States. Mr. Naidu told party workers that “the persistence of problems between the two States will not accrue any benefits. The two States will suffer if these problems continue”. This is why it is imperative for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to resolve them amicably, he said. “We (the two Chief Ministers) have taken the responsibility, and we will ensure that this happens,” he stressed.

The meeting and the subsequent statements are welcome. But whether the two Chief Ministers will stick to their resolve is the question. Some issues are particularly sticky — for instance, the division of institutions under Schedule IX and X of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, water-sharing, and the stalemate over power dues payable by one another. The two States have been at loggerheads over these for a long time. While it is a relief to see efforts being made towards establishing cordial ties, intent alone will not suffice. Only patience and persistence can help the two States resolve festering issues and work in the interests of the people.

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