Hyderabad: 2014 will go down as a watershed year in the geo-political history of Andhra Pradesh, marked the end of an era of a state that remained one for close to 57 years and the beginning of a new era in which the state got a re-birth.
The first linguistic state of the country, Andhra became Andhra Pradesh in 1956 with the amalgamation of parts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
2014 saw the “de-merger” of those same parts, with the creation of a new state called Telangana, leaving Andhra Pradesh to its pre-1956 shape.
The process for the separation was set in motion in late 2013 but the formalities were completed this year after Parliament cleared the AP Re-organisation Bill in February.
It caused a political upheaval as the state government of the day, headed by then Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, stepped down in protest and Andhra Pradesh was brought under President’s rule on March 1 after a gap of 41 years.
The Centre subsequently set June 2 as the “Appointed Day” for the formal birth of Telangana state even as the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly polls were scheduled in April-May along with Lok Sabha elections.
People of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, who steadfastly opposed the state’s bifurcation till the last minute, took things in their stride when the “inevitable” happened.
“Forward-looking”, as they are known, people of Andhra Pradesh left the bifurcation saga behind them only to surge ahead with new hopes and aspirations.
They, however, converted their seething displeasure over the Centre’s “unilateral and highhanded” action into unequivocal anger against the Congress and gave it a political burial in a state that remained its citadel in the last decade.
That the Congress could win nothing – from a village panchayat, the lowest in political power stakes, to Lok Sabha, the highest – in successive elections held this year in Andhra Pradesh clearly established the vengeance with which the voters struck.
They not only scripted the Congress’ political obituary, but also gave a new lease of life to the Telugu Desam Party in general and its chief N Chandrababu Naidu in particular, who otherwise faced the threat of going into political oblivion.
They reposed faith in him, as Chandrababu was seen as the “man for the moment” who could steer the “sunrise state” on the path to glory.
The elections also sealed the fate of young leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, whose aimed to become chief minister of the state.
After hyped-up successes in a few by-elections, Jagan’s YSR Congress fell by the wayside in the race to the assembly, but managed to emerge as the main Opposition party in the absence of the Congress.
The “show-stealer” in this year’s elections in Andhra Pradesh was filmstar Pawan Kalyan, who despite floating his own party Jana Sena, eventually threw his lot behind the TDP that had already forged an alliance with the BJP.
In a way, Kalyan turned the tide completely in favour of
the TDP-BJP combine through his fiery attack on Jagan as, at one point, the latter was seemingly cruising as a front-runner for power.
Interestingly, the “Modi wave” that swept many parts of the country in the general elections, did not actually have any impact as such in Andhra Pradesh as the voters’ mandate was for Chandrababu.
Given his past record as a “development man”, Chandrababu was the apparent choice to script the new Andhra Pradesh’s growth story.
The new political alignment helped BJP regain some lost round in the state after a decade as it won seats in Lok Sabha (2) as well as Assembly (4).
In a reciprocal arrangement, BJP became part of the Chandrababu government while the TDP joined the Modi Cabinet at the Centre.
Elections-2014 ultimately left only three political survivors – TDP, BJP and YSRC – in AP as all other outfits sank without a trace.
Even Kiran Kumar Reddy, who vehemently tried to stall the bifurcation by rebelling against the Congress, ended up as a loser in the polls as his Jai Samaikyaandhra party was rejected outright by the voters.
The bigwigs of Andhra Pradesh politics like M M Pallam Raju, N Raghuveera Reddy, Botsa Satyanarayana, V Kishore Chandra Deo and many others, who enjoyed power for a decade in Congress, lost their moorings as a fallout of the bifurcation.
The bifurcation, however, caused a need for not only re-building Andhra Pradesh but also re-inventing it.
Beginning with the state capital, practically every facility needs to be built in the state as what all “development” that happened in the last five decades had to be parted with to the new-born state.
The devastating cyclone Hudhud that hit the Bay of Bengal coast in mid-October added to the state’s woes by leaving the north coastal districts fully battered and the largest city Visakhapatnam in shambles.
The state government, however, is ready with massive plans to first build the capital city and simultaneously create other infrastructure in different districts to fuel the growth engine. Year 2015 will set these things on course.