Setting at rest speculation about a rethink on the formation of Telangana, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday told Rajya Sabha that “the government will take on board all views, including concerns on status of Hyderabad, before taking a decision on how to take forward the process.” He, however, declined to give a timeline saying the process will be taken forward in accordance with the Constitution and past practices.
The Minister, standing in for an indisposed Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, was responding to clarifications sought by members on a statement made by him on the subject earlier
He repeated the statement when Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said he was as confused at the end of the discussion as he was in the beginning as to whether there was going to be Telangana State or not. The House was divided on the issue with parties such as the BJP, CPI, BSP, JD (U) supporting the formation of Telangana and the SP, CPI-M, AIADMK and some others opposing it.
Rejecting the opposition allegation that the decision was taken in haste and the government was playing a “dangerous game”, Mr. Chidambaram said, “Every political party's view will be kept in mind before the government takes a decision on how to take forward the process of the formation of the State of Telangana formation.”
He highlighted that the process of formation of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand during the NDA rule had taken about two years. He also pointed out that the BJP had changed its mind on Telangana, after opposing it initially.
Brushing aside criticism, Chidambaram said, “The more you accuse the Congress party, the more you abuse the Congress party, the Congress party will become stronger and stronger.”
Asserting that a full-fledged debate — which the clarifications turned out to be — at this stage was pre-mature, the Minister said once the Cabinet takes a decision a structured debate could be held. He noted that but for BJP member Venkiah Naidu and CPI member D. Raja, there were no suggestions on what matters the government should consider.
Replying to criticism on the Congress rushing through the decision without any “homework” for “political expediency”, Mr. Chidambaram said the homework was done by Srikrishna Commission that went into the different aspects on formations of new states and difficulties in new states.
Targetting the TDP, he said if the party takes a decision it is “democratic” but if the Congress takes a decision it is termed “autocratic”. “These are matters in which politics overtakes reason. You are damned if you do, you are damned if you don’t.”
On the charge that not enough consultations have been held on the formation of Telangana, he said most extensive discussions have taken place on the issue within the Congress and outside.
Earlier, Mr. Naidu (BJP) said the decision cannot be treated as an internal matter of the Congress. He raised questions about the safety and security of people, the status of Hyderabad, development of ports, airports, universities, medical institutions, mechanism for sharing river waters, power, revenue etc.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, while opposing Telangana, advised the government not to play with the sentiments of the people.