Opinion | Will Naidu And Reddy Finally Be Able To Solve A Decade-Old Problem?

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A significant development has occurred across the Vindhyas. Andhra Pradesh's Chief Minister, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, held a meeting on June 6 with his Telangana counterpart, Anumala Revanth Reddy. The objective of this initiative - taken by Naidu himself, the senior of the two leaders - was to resolve the decade-old deadlock over inter-state issues.

The dispute between the two states, which arose after the creation of Telangana in 2014, revolves around the sharing of assets and liabilities that each had to settle after the bifurcation. Yet, little movement was seen over the last decade on several contentious projects identified in the two schedules of the Andhra Pradesh States Reorganisation Act.

A Political Standoff

The issue, which is partly administrative, is essentially a political call. The ticklish problem for either side is dealing with any possible backlash for agreeing/conceding to a position on 50 of some 240-plus institutions that are under contention.

On his part, Naidu maintained that for his Telugu Desam Party (TDP), both the Telugu-speaking states were like his pair of eyes. At an event in Hyderabad, he stated that while the TDP and the Congress had different ideologies, they should work together for the benefit and interests of Telugu-speaking people.

Andhra Pradesh has seen two governments over the last decade, each headed by a different party: the TDP in 2014-2019 and the YSR Congress in 2019-2024. On the other hand, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS, earlier Telangana Rashtra Samiti) led the government in Telangana over the last decade. The relations between the TDP and the BRS were frosty earlier, but in the latter's second term, there were efforts from both sides to resolve thorny issues.  

The ground situation in either state has changed now. There is a Congress government in Telangana being headed by Revanth Reddy, who until a few years back had been with the TDP and was considered close to Naidu. Political rapport does matter in resolving contentious issues.

A Decade-Old Deadlock

There are 91 institutions in Schedule IX and 142 in Schedule X. Of these, there are around 50 bodies over which there are differences pertaining to the interpretation of the provisions. Officials from both sides have held meetings in the past about these issues.

One of the main sticking points is the division of institutes whose headquarters are in other states. The government of Andhra Pradesh had set up a committee under Sheela Bhide to identify the projects/institutions for division. But while Telangana's objection was that including those projects which were not part of the headquarters went against the spirit of the Reorganisation Act, Andhra Pradesh was of the view that the recommendations of the committee were accepted in a hurry so as to hasten the process of division.

The Centre in 2017 tried to find a way to deal with the standoff, but the two state governments were not happy, and a few cases reached the court. Overall, the Union Home Ministry had suggested that the matter be resolved in three phases: the first involving institutions over which there was no difference of opinion, and then looking at those institutes over which either side differed. But the Andhra Pradesh government instead preferred to find a single-step solution.

A Glimpse Of Hope

Now, after taking over as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for the fourth time - second after the bifurcation - Naidu has nudged Reddy to take steps to complete the process. The meeting last week offered a glimpse of hope. Both sides agreed to form three panels: first at the official level, second at a ministerial level, and the third comprising the chief ministers.  

If Naidu and Reddy do eventually manage to break the impasse, it will set an example for other states that are facing inter-state disputes. The two leaders should demonstrate the political will to reach a consensus and take the matter to its logical end. There are risks too: if Naidu and Reddy fail to effectively nip apprehensions of being short-changed, this will turn into a legacy issue which subsequent governments will find difficult to deal with. 

(K.V. Prasad is a senior Delhi-based journalist)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author