Congress says this does not mean the government is going back on its word on Telangana.

The Congress said on Monday the Centre would initiate the process of creating a separate state of Telangana only after the Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed a resolution to this effect.

This statement brought solace to MPs from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions, though some still want the government to come out with a clear statement in this regard. It, however, sent Telangana leaders of the party - who had earlier in the day thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi for "positively responding to the long-felt aspirations of the people" of the region - into a huddle.

Articulating the party's position on the issue that has put the State on the boil, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said this did not mean the government was going back on its Wednesday night statement that the process for the formation of Telangana would be initiated.

Earlier in the day, Andhra and Rayalaseema MPs met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to apprise him of the developments in the State over the weekend. Pointing out that the Centre's announcement regarding initiation of the process for creation of Telangana had caused a lot of confusion, they urged the Minister to issue a statement that the appropriate resolution in the Assembly would not be possible since there was no consensus.

Mr. Mukherjee is understood to have told them that he would consult Ms. Gandhi and revert back to them later in the evening. Though he met some Andhra and Rayalaseema MPs in the evening, no such statement was forthcoming even as government sources maintained that such a move would be counter-productive as it could well lead to an adverse reaction from Telangana.

Meanwhile, responding to questions on the flurry of demands for smaller States, Mr. Ahmed insisted there was no comparison with Telangana, which was an old issue. Maintaining that the Congress was not against creation of smaller States, he said it should be done as per some criteria and not to satisfy the political aspirations of certain leaders.

In particular, he referred to the demand of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for trifurcation of the State. Over the past three days, she has written twice to the Prime Minister in this regard. As to whether the Congress supported setting up a second State Reorganisation Commission, he said the party was not opposed to it provided there was a consensus.