The Centre on Wednesday night announced that the process of forming the State of Telangana would be initiated and an appropriate resolution moved in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who announced this after a day of hectic parleys, was, however, non-committal on when the resolution would be moved.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Congress blinked after a series of meetings in the face of escalating violence in Andhra Pradesh and several appeals to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao to call off his 11-day fast. He has since called off his fast.

Further, according to the Minister, the Centre has requested the Chief Minister to withdraw all cases filed on or after November 29, 2009, against all leaders, students and others associated with the agitation. "The Chief Minister has informed us that he will take necessary steps in this regard," Mr. Chidambaram added.

Stating that the government was very concerned about the health of Mr. Rao, the Minister requested him to withdraw his fast immediately. He also appealed to all sections, specifically students, to withdraw the agitation and help restore normality.

Earlier during the day, Congress leaders were said to have contacted the TRS leadership with the offer of Assembly resolution, even as some of them met MPs from Rayalseema and coastal Andhra in an effort to bring them round.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, who reached the capital in the afternoon, was also called in for discussions by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, while pro and anti-Telangana MPs of the party approached the leadership with their petitions.

As the agitation was spearheaded by students and their leadership was still emerging, the government found itself hemmed in because there was no clear point person to whom its emissaries could speak to defuse the situation.

Political vacuum

For the Congress, the resurgence of the movement for Telangana is a stark reminder of the political vacuum created in the State by the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. This sudden spurt is being attributed to efforts by the TRS and other forces sidelined in the YSR era to stage a comeback, after the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections signalled the thumbs-down for the movement.

The election results were cited time and again by the Congress as a testimony to the fact that statehood for Telangana did not have the kind of support it once had. At the same time, the Congress conceded the differences within the State unit on the issue.