They are ready to have Hyderabad as common capital and share river waters

Under pressure from the Congress central leadership, Telangana MPs, while not retreating on their demand for a separate State, are now willing to accept Hyderabad as a common capital for the two regions and share river waters. This is a significant shift, as for the representatives of the non-Telangana region, the fate of Hyderabad and the arrangement on river waters have always been more important than a divided Andhra Pradesh.

“We are Congress loyalists and we don't want to make things difficult for our leadership,” Telangana MP Madhu Goud Yaski, one of the nine MPs who have resigned, told The Hindu. “We will not accept a regional council on the lines of the one in Gorkhaland. We want a separate State, but we are willing to have Hyderabad as a common capital and share the river waters.”

Mr. Yaski added, “We appreciate the fact that the government is talking to both sides. We have to talk to those from the non-Telangana region. Every war must end in talks.”

This softening of stand comes at a time when the Congress' central leadership has realised that it can no longer put off a decision on the imbroglio.

Close to eight months after the Srikrishna Committee gave its recommendations on the Telangana issue, there is finally a sense of urgency: so even as the central leaders engage the stakeholders in the party from the southern State — Telangana, Rayalseema and Andhra — a serious attempt to veer the discussions towards a solution, which will include either the creation of a separate State or something short of it, is being worked on. If there is pressure from the central leaders on the Telangana representatives, they, in turn, have realised that they too will have to concede something to break the deadlock.

The Congress leadership's strategy, therefore, appears to be two-fold: one to persuade the Telangana MPs, who have quit, to withdraw — or at least not press — their resignations to facilitate the ongoing talks among the various regions; and two, to appeal to the party's representatives from Rayalseema and Andhra to accept the fact that something has to be given to Telangana, in the larger interest of the Congress' future across the various regions. Congress sources say the Rayalseema and Andhra representatives are coming round to accepting that the division of the State is inevitable.

“The government will have to create either Telangana or something short of it,” a senior Congress functionary told The Hindu. “Having promised Telangana officially at the end of 2009, the government has to give something.”

Authoritative sources in the government echoed this sentiment.

For the Centre, looking for a solution has acquired urgency, with nine of the 12 Congress MPs from Telangana having sent their resignation letters to the Lok Sabha Speaker — and the monsoon session of Parliament scheduled to commence in 10 days. To add to the Congress' woes, government servants across Telangana have announced that they will go on strike from August 1, even as a majority of the party's MLAs from the region have also resigned.

A senior Telangana leader said there were three key issues that were coming in the way of a solution — the fate of the capital, Hyderabad, located in the heart of the Telangana region but claimed by both sides, the question of sharing river waters, and whether — in the event of the creation of Telangana — the rest of the State can remain united. The third issue, clearly, is also something the government will have to factor in as it works towards a solution.

From the Congress' point of view, party sources say, the worst option would be to carry on with the status quo: for, this would end in the party not only losing Telangana, where it won 12 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 general elections but also not making any gain in the rest of the State, where it has to deal with not just the Telugu Desam Party but also the Jagan camp. A division of the State, the sources say, would ensure total control over Telangana. As for the rest of the State, with or without a division, it will have to contend with both the TDP and Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.