Decision on Telangana soon? Crucial meet in Delhi today

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New Delhi: Anyone who matters in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet seems headed for Delhi, where the ruling Congress’ top leaders will meet on Friday to decide on whether the state should remain united or a separate Telangana state should be carved out of it.

They anticipate a decision, especially after the Congress general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh indicated earlier this week that there can be no more delay, though Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhury said yesterday, “A decision will be taken only after discussions with everybody.”

As Digvijaya Singh put it, there are two options: bifurcate Andhra Pradesh to carve out a Telangana state or stay united.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and other Congress leaders have held marathon consultations with leaders from both sides of the argument and are carrying to Delhi roadmaps on both options as sought by Mr Singh when he visited Hyderabad earlier this month.

Leaders from all parties in Telangana have rejected the stay-united option. They want only statehood now, not financial packages and other sops, they say.

Even Congress leaders from Telangana are seen as supporting and taking a lead in a recent new pitch for statehood. That is because if Telangana is granted statehood, they would not want the TRS to get all the credit.

Congress leaders like D Srinivas have been urging the TRS to merge with the Congress, though the party’s leader KT Rama Rao says the Congress has not approached them yet. He also says there is no reason to believe that the Congress will go ahead with bifurcation, going by past record.

The Congress indeed cannot ignore protests from the coastal and Rayalaseema regions. Leaders from coastal Andhra are meeting in Delhi and the United Andhra Joint Action Committee has held protest rallies in which ministers like Ganta Srinivas have participated. They have called for a bandh tomorrow.

The timing of today’s Congress Core Group meeting has led to speculation on whether general elections will be called early.

Elections are due only in May next year, but if they are advanced, a decision on Telangana will have to be taken and announced now so that a Bill can be tabled in Parliament in the monsoon session. If elections are held on schedule, the Congress will also have the winter session to do this.

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