Disappointing the protagonists of Telangana, the Centre on Wednesday sought to buy more time to take a decision on the demand for a separate State.

Emerging from a meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi held here to discuss the issue, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also in charge of the party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, said: “We will try to resolve this very important issue as early as possible.” The party was making sincere efforts to resolve the vexed issue as early as possible. Once it was resolved, “We [the government/the party] cannot keep it [the decision] within the four walls.”

When it was pointed out that Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who said after an all-party meeting on December 28 last that the decision might out in one month, Mr. Azad said he did not think that one month meant exactly 30 days. It could be a few days more. “When one says tomorrow, it does not mean tomorrow morning. When one says one week, sometimes it is two weeks,” he said.

Besides Mr. Shinde and Mr. Azad, the meeting was attended by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, who is the additional in charge of the party affairs in the State.

Congress MPs from Telangana Ponnam Prabhakar and G. Vivekanand said the delay amounted to an injustice to the people of the region, who were eagerly expecting a decision before January 28, as promised by Mr. Shinde. They suspected that Seemandhra leaders were behind it.

Informed sources said there was another reason for deferring the decision as Andhra Pradesh was witnessing protests by Muslim groups against the arrest of the Owaisi brothers; Hyderabad witnessed a bandh a few days ago. In this surcharged atmosphere, any decision on Telangana would aggravate the law and order situation, they pointed out.