At the end of a day of frenetic consultations, presentations and meetings here, the Congress Core Group on Friday once again deferred a decision on Telangana. Senior sources said “there will be two or three more meetings” before the matter was endorsed one way or the other by the Congress Working Committee.”
Emerging from the meeting, general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijay Singh told journalists waiting in pouring rain outside 7, Race Course Road that the Telangana issue would finally be decided by the CWC, which would meet soon.
Interestingly, party sources said, while no decision was taken, the mood was in favour of a separate State. “Today, Telangana had the upper hand,” the sources said, however, cautioning, “but in politics, you never know…, ” indicating the strong pressure from the integrationists who are for a unified Andhra Pradesh.
In any case, if a decision was indeed taken in favour of Telangana, there would also be a meeting of UPA allies, even if that was a formality, followed by Cabinet endorsement before the issue was taken up in Parliament, party sources said. .
Of course, the focus of Friday’s meeting was on listening to differing views: the meeting commenced with three half-hour presentations by Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, PCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana and Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, in that order. While Mr. Rajanarasimha spoke in favour of a separate Telangana, Mr. Satyanarayana and Mr. Reddy made a plea for continuation of a united Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, the three presentations were made separately.
Party sources said Mr. Reddy gave a “historical perspective” of Telangana and stressed that Indira Gandhi had not conceded the demand for dividing the State. He also brought up the problem of water sharing between the two regions, Telangana and Seemandra.
The Core Group discussed the matter after the three Andhra Pradesh leaders had left. Those present were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, party vice- president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Digvijay Singh and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, a key Core Group member, is abroad.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister met Ms. Gandhi for 10 minutes to put across his views and brief her on the political situation in the State, while a pro-Telangana delegation called on Mr. Shinde. Later Telangana Political Joint Action Committee member B. Vinod Kumar claimed that Mr. Shinde assured the team that “100 per cent you are going to listen to good news.” The pro-Telangana lobby is interpreting this as a sign that a new State will be created.
Mr. Vinod Kumar, leader of the regional Telangana Rashtra Samithi that spearheads the movement for a separate State, has promised to support the Congress in next year’s elections if Telangana is created, with Hyderabad as its capital.
Through the day, the two rival groups met separately in the national capital, hoping to create pressure on the Congress leadership. If Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s suite at Andhra Bhawan here saw a gathering of those who want the status quo to continue, more than half a dozen Lok Sabha MPs from the Telangana region met at the residence of party MP Ponnam Prabhakar. Some A.P. Ministers from Telangana were also present.
Later, Mr. Prabhakar, Madhu Yaski Goud, Sukhender Reddy, S. Rajaiah, Suresh Kumar Shetkar and others met later at the residence of AICC secretary and senior leader from the region V. Hanumantha Rao.