Decade after bifurcation, Hyderabad is no longer common capital of Andhra and Telangana but issues persist

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru once equated merger of Telugu states to a marriage alliance, and said, "If they do not get on, they can divorce”.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Jun 01, 2024 | 9:00 AM Updated Jun 01, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Bifurcation issues of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Over 67 years ago, in 1956, the Telangana part of the Hyderabad was merged with Andhra state, that was formed three years ago dividing Madras Province, to form Andhra Pradesh, uniting all Telugu-speaking people.

The 58-day hunger strike by Potti Sreeramulu for the separation from the then Madras region for a Telugu state led to the announcement of the Andhra state.

This move was against the recommendations of the 1955 States Reorganisation Commission (SRC), which upheld the apprehensions from Telangana that its development may be overlooked in the united state.

However, with a Gentlemen’s Agreement addressing the concerns of the Telangana region, both states entered into a union.

The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was often quoted as saying, “We are marrying off an innocent girl (Telangana) to a naughty boy (Andhra Pradesh) – they may get on; if they do not, they can divorce.”

In this metaphorical marriage, issues arose over perceived injustices toward the Telangana region regarding ‘Neellu, Nidhulu, Niyamakalu’ (water, funds, and jobs).

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh stares at capital city uncertainty

The Hyderabad blues

Ultimately, on 2 June 2014, the state of Telangana officially came into existence, separating from Andhra Pradesh. But, one sentiment that lingered between the two Telugu states was the status of Hyderabad, the capital in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.

The Andhra Pradesh people, having significant assets and presence in Hyderabad, demanded that it should be designated as a permanent common capital and a Union Territory, similar to Chandigarh, shared between Punjab and Haryana.

They argued that Hyderabad’s development to its present stature resulted from their efforts, including substantial investments in its infrastructure.

Telangana leaders contested this, arguing that the city’s development was a joint effort by all, including settlers from other states.

Amidst the demands, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 18 February 2014 and in the Rajya Sabha on 20 February 2014, and finally came into force on 2 June 2014.

The then Congress MP Vundavalli Arun Kumar, now retired from politics, filed an urgent hearing petition in the Supreme Court against his former Congress government, challenging the legality of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the passage of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, in Parliament.

He shared with South First that his contention on the way the bill was passed with the doors of the house shut, members’ microphones disconnected, and live telecast of the session stopped.

However, the AP government responded in the Supreme Court that Andhra Pradesh was not against the bifurcation of the state, as reversing it may open Pandora’s Box given how many years have passed.

Also Read: Harish Rao sees ‘conspiracy’ by BJP-Congress to extend Hyderabad joint capital status by 10 years

The deadline extension

According to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Hyderabad was designated as the common capital of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for a period not exceeding ten years.

After this period expires on 2 June 2024, Hyderabad will become the sole capital of Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh will establish a new capital.

As per the act, during these ten years, Andhra Pradesh was entitled to use Hyderabad for its operations until it established its own capital in the proposed new location.

However, the ruling dispensation TDP has constructed offices and relocated its operations to Amaravati, the then proposed capital, much ahead of the deadline.

Only a few entities remain in Hyderabad, such as the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission and they have also begun their transition to Andhra Pradesh this month.

With the end of Hyderabad’s status as the common capital approaching, the incumbent YSRCP Rajya Sabha member, seeking a second mandate for his government, demanded an extension of Hyderabad’s common capital status for a few more years until Andhra Pradesh completes its three capitals.

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Yes and No’s of Hyderabad as common capital

This call has divided responses from opposition parties, mainly the BJP, JSP, and TDP, all of whom favour designating Amaravati as the capital immediately when they come to power.

Speaking to South First, TDP spokesperson Pattabhi Ram added that the story of Hyderabad is ending and that Amaravati — the sole capital, will now take precedence.

Pattabhi’s claim contradicts his rival YSRCP’s stance of making Visakhapatnam the executive capital as part of the three-capitals plan.

Congress Vice-President for Andhra Pradesh, Kolanukonda Shivaji, and VV Lakshmi Narayana of the JBN Party have appealed for the status of Hyderabad as the joint capital of the two states to be extended for 10 more years.

VV Lakshmi Narayana told South First that until the asset sharing between the two states is completed, most of which, contributing around 90 percent of the total, are demographically located in Hyderabad, losing the common capital status may also mean losing our say over these assets.

Therefore, Hyderabad should remain as the common capital until the bifurcation issues are resolved, and Andhra Pradesh constructs its own capital.

However, this has become an election issue in the recently concluded parliamentary elections in Telangana.

The BRS launched an attack on the ruling Congress, stating that the current CM, Revanth Reddy, has Andhra links and political connections that may support the move. They also claimed that the BJP is considering making Hyderabad a Union Territory.

Speaking to South First, G. Niranjan, a senior vice president of T-Congress, gave his party’s stance which is contradictory to the Andhra Pradesh Congress’s position. He added that the ‘common capital’ chapter is closed and there will be no more politics surrounding it. He said that the asset-sharing issue will be resolved in a suitable way for both states.

The BJP spokesperson and media incharge NV Subhash speaking to South First has dismissed the claims of making the Hyderabad as UT as being claimed by the BRS. “If we wanted to convert Hyderabad into a Union Territory, we would have done it a long time ago, as we have the necessary numbers, but this idea has never been on the table,” he added.

Also Read: Three years on: What is Andhra CM Jagan’s three-capitals plan? Why is it in limbo?

Assets sharing: bitter and unresolved

When it comes to the asset sharing between the two Telugu states, it remains bitter and unresolved.

“After all, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh were bifurcated in the year 2000. There were problems in those states also, but none of the acrimony and bitterness that was seen in Andhra Pradesh,” noted former bureaucrat Sheela Bhide, who headed the expert committee on Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, in her book on “Challenges of State Re-organisation: Case of Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh – Any Lessons to be Learnt.”

The asset sharing between the two states was detailed in Schedules 9 and 10 of the Reorganisation Act of 2014. According to the act, assets were distributed based on their location, while debt liabilities were apportioned based on population.

As reported by The Hindu, this issue involved 245 institutions with a total fixed asset value of ₹1.42 lakh crore. The headquarter assets of institutions under the Schedule IX were valued at ₹24,018.53 crore, while those under the Schedule X were valued at ₹34,642.77 crore. An additional 12 institutions were valued at ₹1,759 crore.

Consensus was reached only on the division of Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi and the allocation of over 60,000 state cadre employees.

The central government appointed an expert committee led by bureaucrat Sheela Bhide, which submitted its report. This report was accepted by the Andhra Pradesh government but contested by the Telangana government.

The committee proposed a formula for dividing state PSUs, with recommendations favouring both states in different instances. Telangana objected to the division of 22 out of the 91 PSUs, leading to a deadlock.

Currently, the Andhra Pradesh government, seeking a “fair, equitable, and expeditious division of assets and liabilities” with Telangana, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2022.

In addition to the existing issues, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have yet to reach a consensus on ₹6,756.92 crore in dues that Telangana was asked to pay by the Centre for the supply of power post-bifurcation from 2 June, 2014, to 10 June, 2017.

The dispute over Krishna water sharing remains unresolved. After the division, both successor states to share 811 TMCFT of water from the Krishna River in a 34:66 ratio (TS:AP).

However, this decision has been contested by Telangana, which is asking for a 50:50 split between the two states from 2021-22 until the finalisation of the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal award.

Related: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: Which way do the Krishna waters flow?