Karela Fry

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Transitions to new states

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IT reported on the fall out of the union cabinet’s decision to create the state of Telangana:

Vizianagaram, a town in coastal Andhra, has been roiling since the Union Cabinet’s decision to create the state of Telangana out of the existing state of Andhra Pradesh.

“Lot of violence was reported, with the protesters indulging in arson, setting a bank on fire, and damaging public and private properties. In view of the violence, authorities ordered a curfew late last night,” Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, IGP (North Coastal Zone), said.

TOI reports:

According to sources, the legal advice was that the defeat of the bill in the Assembly could form the ground to challenge the proposed division of the state in the court of law. “Never in the past had the creation of a state faced such resistance from the people as in this case. So, if we defeat the bill, we could challenge the decision to bifurcate the state on the grounds that it is anti-people and anti-constitutional,” [Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy] told the meeting [of 60-odd Seemandhra ministers, MLAs and MLCs], the sources said.

Politically necessary exaggeration perhaps. The Hindu recalls history in a leader:

The Central government found reorganising Bombay State after independence ‘the thorniest problem.’ The Dar commission set up in 1948 by the Central government to look into reorganisation of States, and the 1949 Congress high-power committee, composed of Nehru, Patel and Sitaramayya (JVP committee), recommended that Bombay city must be a separate entity and not part of any State. Nehru and his supporters argued that the city was multilingual and cosmopolitan, and it should retain that character. But the Marathi and Gujarati speaking residents of the State did not agree.

Agitations intensified in 1955 when the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) recommended a unified bilingual state with Bombay as the capital. Things turned worse when the Central government overlooked the SRC’s recommendations and declared Bombay a Centrally administered territory. Even proposals to merge Vidarbha State with Bombay State did not appease the protesters. Nehru’s personal appeal for “sweet reasonableness” did not work. Violent protests continued, claiming 27 lives in Bombay city and 12 in Ahmedabad.

The Central government dropped its plans for Bombay city but persisted with the idea of a bilingual state. On November 1, 1956, the composite state of Bombay, including areas of Saurashtra and Kutch, was inaugurated. However, the demand for two states — Maharashtra and Gujarat — continued.

The Congress, which did not do well in the following elections, realised that the bifurcation of Bombay was a political necessity. It proposed that Maharashtra get Bombay city and the new State pay Rs. 50 crore to Gujarat for building a new capital and balancing the budget. On May 1, 1960, Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed.

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