Congress does tightrope walk at Telangana meeting

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NEW DELHI - With its leaders from Andhra Pradesh divided along regional lines on the demand for a separate state of Telangana, the Congress had a varying response at a meeting on the Srikrishna panel report convened by Home Minister P. Chidambaram here Thursday.

While party legislator from Telangana region Uttam Kumar Reddy favoured option five in the summary of the report which talks of carving out a separate state of Telangana with its capital as Hyderabad, the other party representative, MP K.S. Rao said the panel had gone into a number of issues including river sharing, education and development and all parties should consider the report before giving their opinion.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy did not speak during the meeting.

Uttam Reddy said he told the meeting that the second last option given in the summary was the best.

“In my preliminary remarks after seeing the summary, I said that option five is the best option,” Reddy told IANS.

He said that there were divisions not only among political parties on regional lines in Andhra Pradesh but even among other sections including lawyers.

The fifth option in the report is to bifurcate the state into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of the former and the latter to have a new capital.

This option, the committee feels, has to be given consideration. It says the demand for a separate Telangana is “not entirely unjustified”. However, the panel said that after taking into account all the pros and cons, the fifth option was “the second best option”.

Rao said after the meeting that the 461-page report has made a lot of suggestions on river sharing systems, education and development. He said the members did not prepare the report sitting in Delhi but talked to a wide section of people.

The Congress MP said that the parties attending the meeting said they would consider the report before giving their opinion.

He said the meeting appealed to people of Andhra Pradesh to maintain peace and law and order and added that political parties agreed to the the suggestion of home minister that they may meet again later this month.

Among the eight political parties invited, only five — the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, the Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) — attended Thursday’s meeting.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Telugu Desam Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) boycotted the meeting.

PRP leader C. Ramachandraiah said after the meeting that his party has always maintained that keeping the state united was the best option. He said keeping the state united will lead to faster development.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary in Andhra Pradesh B.V. Raghavulu said the party was in favour of maintaining status quo.

He said that the government should come out with a solution in the next meeting.

The five-member panel submitted its report Dec 30 to the home minister. It has given six options in the report and has said that keeping the state united by simultaneously providing definite constitutional measures for socio-economic development of Telangana region including creation of a regional council was the most workable option.

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