While people are waiting with bated breath and parties are keeping their fingers crossed, Centre is revealing very little on the contents of the draft Bill

Almost all political leaders from the State who visited Delhi are struck by awe and surprise over the breakneck buzz relating to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh at North Block, the seat of the Union Home Ministry.

They are not only taken aback by the speed with which key reports are being prepared, but also by the depth into which some of them have gone into. In terms of speed, the Task Force headed by former IPS officer Vijay Kumar submitted its report, almost in a jiffy, after its interactions with top cops in Hyderabad.

The Antony Committee has also prepared a four-page report on concerns of Seemandhra and purportedly handed it over to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Also, irrigation officials submitted detailed recommendations to the Group of Ministers (GoM) on how to tackle the thorny issues – sharing of river water resources between Telangana and Seemandhra.

It was only on November 11 that senior officials of the Water Resources Ministry met the GoM along with those of Power, Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Health and Education, these departments handling issues of concern to both the regions. More departments will get into the act on Thursday when officials of Railways, Finance, Law and Finance have been called over to the North Block.

Apparently, the Centre is anxious to complete its homework and meet deadlines for finalising the draft Bill and forwarding it to the President. Also, it has to get the paper work behind it. Bigger challenges lie ahead of the Congress and the government as it has to tackle Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s rebellion and ensure passage of the Telangana Bill.

What stands out in this race against time is the GoM’s reluctance to share any data with representatives of seven parties with whom it interacted. The panel served only as a sounding board for parties whose stand on Telangana is well-documented.

BJP and CPI leaders bitterly complained to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde about this shortcoming in the GoM’s functioning. “How do we express our views without the Centre coming out with its own report on the issue” (beyond what has been stated in the Terms of Reference), BJP president G. Kishan Reddy said after his meeting with Mr. Shinde.

Information is being doled out in bits and pieces with no official backing, leading to confusion in contentious issues like the status of Hyderabad. Parties and people will learn what the Centre has up its sleeve only when the contents of the draft Bill are revealed. Until then, they will have to sit with fingers crossed.