90-minute meeting also unable to decide on partial revocation of AFSPA

A week before Parliament convenes for the winter session, the Congress Core Group met here on Monday to discuss the issue of Telangana and debate revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

But the top leaders who met at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence here for 90 minutes were unable to come to any conclusion on both, party sources said.

With Dr. Singh, who returned from the SAARC summit in Male on Saturday, flying out again on Thursday to Bali for the ASEAN summit, from where he will be back on November 20, the sources said, it looked as both issues may take a while longer to be resolved.

Apart from the Prime Minister, the Core Group includes Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony and P. Chidambaram, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is the Congress general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, also participated.

Monday's meeting comes against the backdrop of statements made by the Prime Minister on both Telangana and the AFSPA. If his remarks on the first indicated that the government was in no hurry to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, he sounded neutral on the AFSPA, over which the Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry have differences. The Home Ministry is more in sync with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who has been pressing for the revocation of the Act from parts of the State.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister, in response to a question from journalists while returning from Male, said: “Telangana is a complicated matter and we are trying to evolve a consensus where all shades of public opinion would agree that what is being done is in the interests of each and everyone. We cannot solve the problem by agreeing to Telangana while there is disquiet and unrest in other regions of Andhra Pradesh...”

The Core Group meeting was also held in the wake of Mr. Abdullah's meeting Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram on Monday to press his case. Mr. Abdullah met Mr. Antony on Sunday.

On Saturday, asked for his views on the demand for lifting the AFSPA from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Singh said: “I think this is very much a function of the security situation. Therefore, all those who are in charge of security, and those who are dealing with the political processes, they have to sit back and objectively review the situation. I do not think that the process has been completed.”


Omar places AFSPA before Delhi DurbarNovember 14, 2011