Amidst continuing turmoil in the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan arrived here on Tuesday evening for consultations with members of the Group of Ministers on Telangana headed by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. He will meet most of the members separately.
The Governor is also scheduled to call on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, probably on Thursday, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday after he returns from his trip abroad. There is a likelihood of Mr. Narasimhan meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too, party sources added.
The Governor’s visit comes against the backdrop of reports that Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy — who has been accused by his own party colleagues of fuelling the continuing agitation against the division of Andhra Pradesh — plans to float his own party.
However, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh dismissed the speculation. “I assure you that the Chief Minister is a loyal Congressman,” Mr Singh said on Tuesday, adding, “He will not leave the party.”
Mr. Singh made an appeal to Congress MPs to “look at the reality” and stand by the commitment that they have made to respect the high command’s decision.
Four Congress MPs from Andhra and Rayalaseema submitted their resignations, in protest against the division of State, for the second time on Monday, after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar rejected them on Friday. Congress sources said there had been some discussion at the level of leadership on whether Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy should be replaced, with Telangana supporters making that demand repeatedly.
However, the sources added, the leadership decided against making such a change — at least, for the moment — for a variety of reasons.
A senior functionary told The Hindu that it was too close to the general election as well as to the Assembly polls; besides, it would make it very difficult for all other Congress leaders from Andhra and Rayalaseema — especially those who are in the Union Council of Ministers. The last occasion Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy was here — on September 23 to attend the National Integration Council meeting — he was unable to meet Ms. Gandhi even though he had sought time with her.
The Congress leadership’s attempt is now to fast-forward Telangana creation, while continuing to appeal to all party leaders from Andhra and Rayalaseema to remain “loyal soldiers” of the party.
Indeed, after the first meeting of the GoM on Telangana, an assurance was given that the concerns of Andhra Pradesh would be addressed with “fairness and objectivity.” At its second meeting last Saturday, the terms of reference for division were discussed and Secretaries of the departments concerned asked to coordinate with State government officials to prepare a detailed report on the issue.
It was also decided that more time — till November 5 — be given to political parties, public representatives and individuals to send their suggestions pertaining to the specific terms of reference of the GoM.
The GoM will next meet on November 7.