Hyderabad, May 14: The Centre seems to have no stomach for small states any more, if recent remarks made by P Chidambaram are any indication. Stunned by the Dantewada attack on security forces last month, the Union government is said to be worried about the national security implications of creating small states. If so, that may end any hopes of a separate Telangana.
“Can we think of creating more states after what happened in Dantewada?” the Union Home Minister reportedly said in an aside during a recent meeting in New Delhi. Highly placed sources disclosed to Express that Chidambaram did not directly refer to the ongoing agitation for a separate state in Telangana but the import of his statement is not difficult to read.
A warlike situation is prevailing in Chhattisgarh with central paramilitary forces finding it difficult to break the hold of the Maoists on the vast expanse of forests in the small state bordering Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The Dantewada massacre of 76 CRPF men last month shocked Chidambaram, and sent Home Ministry mavens scurrying to reexamine the first principles of their strategy against the Maoists.
The “Maoist threat” was one of the reasons advanced by those opposed to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
Their case has been that extremists will regain their lost territory in Telangana if it is carved out as a separate state. But Telangana protagonists have been arguing that that there is a vast difference between the topography and social relations of Telangana and the Dandakaranya belt covering Chhattisgarh and other states where the CPI (Maoist) has gained strength over the past decade. Moreover, the militants have established a hold even in big states like West Bengal and, therefore, it was fallacious to say that only smaller states foster the Maoist problem, they point out.
In fact, ever since Chidambaram made his “midnight” announcement on Dec. 9 promising steps towards a separate Telangana state, he has drawn flak from political leaders from the coastal region of AP. “The people of Telangana have for long been asking for a separate state.
Why not we consider it?” was the line taken by him until recently. That Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also not averse to it may have influenced Chidambaram then.
But the thought process in Delhi seems to have changed now even as the Srikrishna Committee is holding consultations with stakeholders on the contentious issue.
Significantly, Chidambaram’s loud thinking, disclosed to Express by highly placed sources, is in line with the remark by Justice Srikrishna on Wednesday wherein he spoke of adopting a “middle path” given the strong positions in favour and against a separate Telangana state. But what the middle path could be is difficult to answer now. It could be provision of statutory safeguards for Telangana (done in the past but without success) or creation of an autonomous state of Telangana within Andhra Pradesh without dividing the state.