Senior Congress leaders from A.P. warn high command of problems that will follow division

Taking a step forward on Telangana, the UPA government has called a meeting of its Coordination Committee for July 31 — the day panchayat polls end in Andhra Pradesh — to take a view on the division of the southern State.

The outcome of the meeting will determine the date of the Congress Working Committee meeting.

The announcement on the timing of the meeting of UPA allies came even as BJP president Rajnath Singh reiterated his party’s support for the creation of Telangana. “We support Telangana cause. The BJP is committed to forming the State,” Mr. Singh told journalists here on Sunday, stressing, “the government should grant it immediately.” Telangana will become a reality if the BJP comes to power at the Centre after the general elections.

Indeed, the BJP’s unswerving support for Telangana has been a major push factor for the Congress, helping it to take the final step towards dividing Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, even as senior Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh have gradually begun to accept that the Centre is heading towards dividing the State, many of them have warned the party’s central leadership of the many problems that could follow it.

Six anti-Telangana MPs, including Union Ministers M.M. Pallam Raju, K.S. Rao, Chiranjeevi and D. Purandeswari (all hailing from coastal Andhra) and K. Bapiraju and Anantarami Reddy met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday to make yet another attempt to keep Andhra Pradesh united. The MPs told the Prime Minister that there would be repercussions not only in the State but also for the entire country if the State was divided.

This meeting came in the wake of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy having told the party’s brass that if the government takes the plunge on the creation of Telangana, he will make it clear that he is not party to the decision. If the State is divided, Mr. Reddy, party sources added, has told central leaders that he will not be able to guarantee a fair number of seats for the Congress. If Mr. Reddy had asked the Congress leadership not to do anything till July 31 when the panchayat polls end, now sources close to him are saying that a decision should wait till the zilla parishad and municipal polls are completed in September.

The Chief Minister, Congress sources said, could not at all afford to be seen as quietly accepting the high command’s diktat on Telangana, if he hoped to have any political future at all in the Andhra-Rayalaseema region.

The other political protagonists in the region have also been vocal. MIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asadudin Owaisi, speaking to The Hindu on the phone, reiterated his party’s firm opposition to the creation of Telangana. Asked whether the MIM would be in favour of including the districts of Kurnool and Anantapur from Rayalaseema in the proposed Telangana State, he said, “When we are opposing Telangana, where is the question of our wanting two districts to be added to it or not.”

Minority presence

The rationale for the proposal to add the two Rayalaseema districts, Congress sources said, was that it would create two States with 21 Lok Sabha seats each; besides, since these two districts — that would bring in four Parliament seats — have substantial Muslim populations, a Telangana that included them would ensure that the new State had a larger minority population, the proponents of the proposal feel.

On the other hand, the carving up of Rayalaseema would affect both Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy, both of whom belong to this region.