In Andhra Pradesh, both civil society organisations and opposition parties are not convinced by the ‘decentralisation of administration’ argument being pushed by the YSRCP government to reorganise 13 districts in the state to 26.

Is the reorganization of districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana meant to ensure sustainable development and administrative convenience? If so, has the reorganization brought cheers to people in the Telugu states with regard to administrative convenience? Are the present relatively smaller districts really in furtherance of the respective state government’s plan to take administration closer to people?

The rulers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have taken the decision to create new districts by reorganising the existing ones probably with the sole objective of gaining full control over their respective states.

The Chief Ministers of the Telugu states are believed to have got the inspiration for this decision from the combined AP’s former CM NT Rama Rao, who had ruled the erstwhile state for nearly seven years.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao himself was political disciple of NTR, who came to power by defeating the Congress party, which had ruled undivided AP for nearly three and half decades.

It was NTR who took the crucial decision of setting up of revenue mandals in place of the erstwhile taluks, with a view to taking the administration to people’s doorstep. In the combined Andhra Pradesh, 1,104 revenue mandals were created. It was an innovative step taken up by NTR and a sensational one in those days.

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All those 1,104 revenue mandals went to polls as part of the local bodies’ polls on 14 March, 1987. NTR had bowled himself into history with this decision. He got more political mileage as the new mandal system had come in handy for NTR to accommodate more people as people’s representatives in those newly created local bodies.

In this backdrop, NTR got political benefits from the mandal system as he packed his own party functionaries in hundreds of local bodies. Since then NTR is remembered whenever the topic of revenue mandals crops up. Congress was initially reluctant towards this idea of revenue mandals, though it got one-third of total revenue mandals in the state. The Congress even considered reversing the new set-up of mandals when it came back to power two years later i.e. in 1989. But, after sensing possible stiff resistance from the general public, then Congress regime stepped back on this issue.

The Congress government could only get names of a few schemes envisaged for community development changed. For example, NTR launched the Telugu Gramina Kranthi Patham for community development. The Congress government kept it aside, but the TDP gave it a new colour with the name of ‘Janma Bhoomi’, under which community developmental works were taken up with 30% public contribution for the prescribed works under the stewardship of N. Chandrababu Naidu in later years.

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This programme got overwhelming response from the general public, though controversies over large-scale misappropriation of funds dogged it. It appears that the Chief Ministers of AP and Telangana have drawn inspiration from NTR in creating more districts in the Telugu states. KCR created new 33 districts by reorganising 10 districts in TS on the occasion of Dusshera last year. Jagan also has increased the number of districts in AP to 26.

Political unemployment in ruling parties can now be tackled to some extent by packing party men in posts like zilla parishad chairperson, presidents of party district units and district-level posts. Both the Chief Ministers may be fine with the delimitation of Assembly constituencies in their respective states. According to initial proposals, there should be 225 seats in the AP Assembly in place of the total 175 seats.

Interestingly, effective administration was evident in the case of Warangal district in those days, though there was no proper communication system and today’s technology.

Not even a single telephone was found in countless villages then. Yet, Dr. Burgula had effectively managed the flood situation of River Godavari in 1953 as head of the combined district of Warangal. This flood management was coordinated with the then Madras government in view of flood situation in East and West Godavari districts and then Chief Minister of Composite Madras state C. Rajagopalachari paid a visit to Rajahmundry to assess the grim flood situation.

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So, regardless of the distance to reach district HQ, effective administration hinges on capable persons at the helm. The claim of government about lessening of the distance from different places to the district HQ is exposed with the peculiar situation in the new district of Paderu in AP. There are villages in that new district from where one has to travel 300 kilometers to reach HQ.

People who had lived together in one district for more than a century have had to face painful emotional separation following the creation of new districts. In AP, almost all the districts, except two, had been existing since the days of Akhand Bharat. Common citizen in the present Krishna district had to reconcile to the bitter truth that he/she is no more connected to Vijayawada, whose emotional connection cannot be broken that easily.

All told, the entire process of reorganisation of districts in the two Telugu states might only serve the political purposes of rulers and that too by putting more financial burden on the state’s exchequer. Setting up of the requisite infrastructure and other facilities is not easy for the two governments from the standpoint of the fiscal position.

The best part is that the Chief Ministers of the Telugu States K Chandrasekhar Rao and YS Jaganmohan Reddy will get a place in history for creating small districts, regardless of its contribution to administrative convenience in reality. #KhabarLive #hydnews