Opinion: Reorganization of districts: Right decision at a right time

The decision to bifurcate the districts in consonance with his electoral promise of having one district each for every Lok Sabha constituency in the State is indeed a right step in the right direction in more than one way.

By A Saye Sekhar  Published on  27 Jan 2022 3:44 AM GMT
Opinion: Reorganization of districts:  Right decision at a right time

Carving out13 new districts in Andhra Pradesh is the right decision taken by the YS Jaganmohan Reddy Government. In the implementation of his electoral promise now, Jagan seems to have cleverly timed it to showcase himself to be "politically correct."

Andhra Pradesh Cabinet after securing the views from Collectors of the existing districts by a return mail had electronically circulated a Cabinet note and took "online" approval from the ministers in the last 48 hours.

The decision to bifurcate the districts in consonance with his electoral promise of having one district each for every Lok Sabha constituency in the State is indeed a right step in the right direction in more than one way.

Governance to people's doorstep

Smaller districts would genuinely take the administration to the doorstep of the common man. New districts were created by many States in the last few years. Telangana which had 10 districts was bifurcated into 33, in all. Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh too bifurcated the districts on the basis of the boundaries of Lok Sabha constituencies.

"The government, in the interest of better administration and development of the areas concerned, proposes to form a new district under Section 3 (5) of the AP Districts (Formation) Act, 1974," a notification issued by Chief Secretary Dr. Sameer Sharma had said.

30 days time to express views

Andhra Pradesh government has given 30 days of time for the public, people's organizations, and different stakeholders to participate and submit their objections and appeals. The State Government, with a view to ensuring inclusive governance, has notified calling for the public opinion listing out the proposed geographical distribution of Mandals.

The government, which launched the exercise on the reorganization of districts in August 2020, had to put the exercise on the backburner owing to the impending Census of 2021 and the ban on redrawing the geographical boundaries. However, the Census could not be commenced owing to the prevailing pandemic caused by Coronavirus.

With the Centre relaxing the ban till July, the State wants to complete the process much before and commence the administration by April 2, 2022.

Thorny issues to address

Winning 22 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats has naturally come in handy for the YSR Congress Government. However, the proximity of certain Mandals to the existing/proposed district headquarters towns in almost all Lok

Sabha constituencies are surely going to be querulous. The Government will have to handle the thorny issues by restructuring the contours of the proposed districts. Will this defeat the purpose of making every Lok Sabha constituency into one district each has yet to be seen?

However, the government seems to be rooting its intent to ensure that the popular desire prevails, while largely conforming to the boundaries of the Lok Sabha constituencies.

The bifurcation will surely give brownie points to the Jagan Government politically. Because the YSRC can flaunt the new districts as a realization of yet another poll promise.

New political jobs to get created

Besides, a lot of political positions get created within the government, administration, and also in party organization. New district means new Zilla Parishad which would give 13 more elected representatives of the local bodies a chance to become chairpersons.

Considering the area encompassed by Araku Lok Sabha constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribes, the State Government mooted the idea of having two revenue districts covering the area — Manyam district and Alluri Sitarama Raju district (christened after the chivalrous revolutionary freedom fighter). The creation of two tribal districts at one shot will surely put Jagan in pole position vis-a-vis the downtrodden sections of society.

NTR district to embarrass TDP

Moving to create the NTR district with Vijayawada as its headquarters is surely a political masterstroke that puts the Telugu Desam Party that claims to have inherited the legendary NTR's legacy.

Konaseema district with Amalapuram as its headquarters, Palnadu district with Narasaraopet as the seat of power, Balaji district with Tirupati as the place of administration, Annamayya district with Rayachoti as headquarters satisfies the aspirations of people of the respective areas.

Invoking the local pride will subtly, yet surely, touch a sentimental chord with people. This soars to the stock of the Jaganmohan Reddy Government.

Any thought of opposing or causing a hurdle in the process of creating new districts will be politically detrimental to the opposition parties. The BJP had to, albeit 'unofficially', endorse the move.

Govt employees in a fix

The timing is right because the government is grappling with employees contemplating taking to a warpath, enraged over the new pay revision orders.

The government to a large extent successfully created an opinion among people that the demand of the government staff is nothing but greedy and they are asking for the moon.

Aside from this, the government also is painting the agitation by its staffers as a TDP-sponsored movement. The political managers of the YSR Congress Government and some bureaucrats are working overtime to drive a wedge within the employees' unions.

With the State setting the ball rolling for the process of carving new districts involving all stakeholders, and the government employees will have a greater role to play, any step by the latter to thwart the process would antagonize them to the people.

Also, the employees would be more worried about identifying positions for themselves in their respective native districts rather than toeing the line of the helmsmen of their unions.

Changed priorities

Though AP Revenue Services Association president Bopparaju Venkateswarlu indicated that the State should not mount pressure on the staff for creating the new districts in which their role would be crucial, the employees would be queering the pitch for themselves if they impede the process at a time when the "people's aspirations are bearing fruit."

The move to reorganize the districts will engage the people in the activity for a long time to come and divert their attention from everything else, giving the State Government a breathing space to address the contentious issues and problems plaguing the State.

Thus the decision is more of administrative chivalry, rather than political chicanery.

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