Consultations to continue on Telangana issue

Scotching speculation, the Centre clarified on Saturday that President's rule would not be imposed in the State even as it grappled with the Telangana statehood issue.Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad — who is also the Congress general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh — and Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy ruled out such an eventuality. “This is a process of wider consultations, and consultations will continue. Where does the question of President's rule arise,” Mr. Azad asked.

The Chief Minister, on his part, even put a positive spin on his discussions: the Centre would “soon” resolve the Telangana issue “amicably” and “satisfy the aspirations of the people” of Andhra Pradesh, he said, shortly after he met the high-power core group dealing with the problem.

Mr. Reddy's assurance, however, reflected the government's resolve rather than any breakthrough. The Central leaders had given him advice on how to tackle law and order in Telangana, where a strike is in its fourth week. Asked whether the Centre planned to appeal to the Joint Action Committee to call off the strike or call its members for consultations, Mr. Azad said the Chief Minister must take decisions in this regard: the strike had been discussed with the Chief Minister, he said, and suggestions made. However, Mr. Azad qualified his statement that he could not give a time frame for resolving the issue by stressing that the Centre would not take much time.

At the end of a day of hectic consultations between the core group, headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and nine Andhra Pradesh leaders, only one point emerged: the Centre would continue with the consultations. If Saturday was spent on the first round of intra-party consultations, on Monday, the exercise will continue with leaders on both sides of the Telangana divide, including the recent entrant Chiranjeevi, to evolve a “common Congress line.” Talks with other political parties can begin only after that.

After presenting his report on the law and order situation and its political implications to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan had a very long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.