Hyderabad: A state government survey to be held on August 19 has struck fear into the residents of Telangana. While the government insists it is meant to stop leakages, residents fear it is a precursor to denying benefits to people who may be dubbed outsiders - mostly people from Seemandhra region -- in India's newest state.
The state government is pushing ahead with the Rs 20-crore day-long exercise despite concerns about its legality and feasibility. The government has declared a public holiday so people are available to provide information.
The 29th state of India was carved out of Andhra Pradesh after a bitter battle, and the joint capital status of Hyderabad has ensured that the rivalry remains.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has denied any ill intention, claiming that the survey needs to be conducted to ensure that welfare schemes are not misused -- for example, the new state has more ration cards than its below-the-poverty-line population.
But KCR's movement for Telangana had been studded with strong rhetoric against people from Andhra Pradesh. And after coming to power, he has refused to abide by a policy that obliges his government to pay the college fees for poor students in Hyderabad, irrespective of where they come from.
The 10-year agreement to have Hyderabad as a joint capital asks that no change be made to the administraton or policies of educational institutions for this period. But with the Telangana CM appearing to violate that, Andhra Pradesh's ruling TDP is fighting back.
TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh social welfare minister R Kishore Babu said, "We don't want to share information about where the people came from. It is discriminatory. They are asking for bank accounts and property returns. That is not the business of the government."
KT Rama Rao, Telangana's IT and PR minister, claims the apprehensions are being whipped up by vested interests. "The fear is unfounded. Look at the survey form. There is no column for nativity, no question about domicile," he said.