Lakshmi Narayana is the front-runner for PCC chief, say sources

Congress president Sonia Gandhi met two leaders from Andhra Pradesh – State Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshmi Narayana and Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Ali Khan – separately on Monday as part of the party leadership’s ongoing consultations related to the creation of Telangana.

Ms. Gandhi’s meeting with Mr Lakshmi Narayana, the MLA from Guntur West, assumed significance against the backdrop of the party leadership mulling the possibility of changing not just its Chief Minister, but also State chief, party sources said, if meetings with representatives of state parties scheduled to be held here on Tuesday and Wednesday proceed satisfactorily. Mr Lakshmi Narayana is, party sources said, one of the probables for the post of PCC chief.

Meanwhile, the Union Government is in overdrive on completing the formalities on Telangana: on Monday, the GoM’s meetings carried on for a record seven hours, with Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde meeting the Secretaries of the Union ministries of water resources, power, finance, rural development and human resource development to thrash out issues related to the division of assets between the proposed Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh.

The GoM’s next meeting will be on November 14. Indeed, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, though non-committal on whether a Bill for the creation of a separate Telangana would be tabled in the coming winter session of Parliament, stressed the process will be completed within the current tenure of the UPA government.

This is in keeping with the directive that Ms Gandhi, party sources said, has given that Telangana deadline must be kept.

The GoM is also scheduled to meet Union Ministers from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema on November 18 for a last round, by which time the GoM hopes to have made a fair amount of progress.

If the accent is currently on persuading leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema to accept the CWC resolution on the creation of Telangana, the Congress MPs from the Telangana region, too, are active in ensuring that their interests are protected.

They will be meeting members of the GoM here on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss their future course of action on the Telangana issue.

“We reiterate our stand,” Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar told The Hindu, “as per the resolutions made by the CEC, the UPA government and the Union Cabinet, Telangana State must be formed with 10 districts, 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 assembly segments, and all powers like law and order and revenue vested with Telangana only without any terms and conditions… We have full confidence in Sonia Gandhi.”