Blaming the Congress of failing to handle the Telangana issue effectively, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav on Monday said instead of holding an all-party meeting on Tuesday, the Government should call the National Integration Council for a discussion on the matter.

“The situation in Andhra Pradesh is causing concern due to its wide reaching ramifications in the country. Congress has failed to handle the sensitive issue of Telangana and committed a series of blunders,” Mr. Yadav told reporters here.

He said the issue has been “spoilt” by the Congress and the party has “put the cart before the bullock“.

“The all-party meeting called by Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday on the issue will not be beneficial. Instead a meeting of the National Integration Council should be called to discuss the issue,” the JD(U) chief said.

Mr. Yadav urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take the initiative in this direction, keeping the national interest in mind.

He said in its anxiety to gain political mileage, the government made a statement on December 9, 2009, announcing initiation of process for Telangana’s formation.

“This led to unprecedented upsurge among the people of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalseema. Again on December 23, the government made another statement assuring that due to division of opinion within political parties, wide ranging talks will be held on the matter. This led to agitations in Telangana and now as a sequel, the government has called this all-party meeting,” Mr. Yadav said.

This “callous” handling of the issue has now given rise to more than a dozen demands for separate states, Mr. Yadav said, adding that “political opportunism of the UPA against the wishes of its own partners will have far reaching consequences on national politics in the long run.

Calling for a comprehensive policy on creation of new states involving all parties, Mr. Yadav said, “adhocism and political expediency in this regard will adversely affect the nation’s integrity. The National Integration Council should be given the task of evolving a comprehensive policy and guidelines to deal with the demands for separate states".

When asked for his views on the matter, Mr. Yadav said smaller states should only be created when peace prevails in the concerned region.

“Creation of a state should not lead to discord, there should be discussions,” he said.

Mr. Yadav added that he had not discussed the Telangana issue with its NDA ally BJP.

On whether there were discussions within the NDA over coalition’s chairmanship, Mr. Yadav, who is its convenor, said he had no information on the matter.

Regarding Gujarat government having made voting in local body elections compulsory, Mr. Yadav said he did not favour the decision as it would affect daily wagers.

“Daily wagers who work in interiors, will have to travel all the way to polling booths to vote, which would incur a lot of money. Rather, the moneyed class which seldom votes, should be made to vote compulsorily,” he said.